A Tribute to Albert Etzerza – Father, Husband, Best-Selling Author, Residential School Survivor
Thanks to his family, Albert Etzerza’s new book became a three-time Amazon Best Seller, bringing more awareness for the trauma created by the Canadian Residential School system
Trigger warning: this post mentions sexual assault on a minor.
At Tellwell, we have the privilege of working with authors from all over the world, each one with their own unique story, giving us the chance to see so many different facets of life. Recently, we had the pleasure of working with the family of Albert Etzerza, who realized Albert’s dream of becoming an author.
At the end of 2020, Albert’s wife, Rose and her five sons published Albert’s book, The Good, The Bad and The Innocent: The Tragic Reality Behind Residential Schools, an Albert Etzerza Story. It was one of Albert’s dreams to have his story published, and they helped him accomplish it after he passed away. Since publishing, they’ve gone on to host book giveaways, run social media campaigns, and gain mentions in local media across British Columbia. As a team, Rose and her sons helped Albert’s book hit the Amazon Best Seller list in three different categories: History of First Nations in Canada, Canadian Biographies, and First Nations in Canada.
Their teamwork, creativity, and drive are just a few of the reasons why we are featuring Albert as Tellwell’s author of the month!
We love celebrating our authors’ success, but it is the content of Albert’s book, and the fact that he bravely shared his story, that inspires us most of all.
Albert Etzerza is a survivor of the Lower Post Indian Residential School. He was only six-years old when he began attending Lower Post, which was part of Canada’s Indian Residential School system, a system rooted in colonization and the oppression and killing of Indigenous people. In 1991, Albert spoke out about the abuse he endured throughout his years spent at Lower Post, including the fact that he was repeatedly molested by a school supervisor. Albert eventually took the Canadian government to court for the abuse he was subjected to and the trauma he was left to deal with. He then went on to write The Good, The Bad, and The Innocent to share his story and offer people a look at the tragic reality behind residential schools in Canada; and, to help other residential school survivors heal and find hope.
We were fortunate to speak with Rose, Albert’s wife, to learn more about Albert’s story and hear how the book is being received across Canada.
Don’t miss the chance to read an excerpt from The Good, The Bad, and The Innocent at the end of this post!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Rose, Tahltan/Tlingit First Nation, artist and a mother of five boys.
Albert worked on his book for six years. Can you tell us a bit about what the process of writing The Good, The Bad and The Innocent was like for him?
It took him a long time, as he mentioned when memories would come back it was like reliving it in his own way.
What would you like people to know about Albert and his story?
His story is coming from the inside out, and he lived to tell it. He overcame a lot in life but nothing was to bring him down. He also kept his faith. This man had courage, strength, forgiveness, so much love and a tender heart. For what he’s been through gives me strength in our journey.
You published this book as a family. What was that experience like?
I was happy his story was being told for other survivors to take it day by day, wishing this book will help others.
The Good, The Bad and The Innocent was recently listed as an Amazon Bestseller in three different categories! How does it feel to see the book listed as a bestseller in History of First Nations in Canada, Canadian Biographies, and First Nations in Canada?
I was overcome by excitement knowing we had completed the publishing of his book he so wanted when he was alive.
Can you share a favourite memory you have of Albert?
He was a gentle loving kind man. I never saw him get mad. He had so much love despite what he’s been through.
Do you have any advice for people who want to publish a book?
The best feeling is when it’s completed and seeing it in book stores. It’s overwhelming.
How have you been promoting the book?
On Facebook and with the help of family members; a slog of help with people you know as well.
Tell us about the success you’ve been having. Don’t be shy!
My success will always be moving forward as I, too, am a residential school survivor.
What’s next for you?
I’m a First Nation artist and will continue my art and to sell my art on clothing. Will have my page up here soon I hope.
We are honoured to share an excerpt from Albert Etzerza’s book, The Good, The Bad and The Innocent: The Tragic Reality Behind Residential Schools, an Albert Etzerza Story. Here is a tribute from Albert’s son, Evan.
Remembering Albert Etzerza
My father means a lot to me. I spent a lot of time with him in the end—hospital trips, doctor appointments— nonetheless, I was more than happy to be with my dad almost every step of his way to heaven. I was once asked the hardest question of my life, and that was from my father. He asked me if it was okay to give up. He said he’s tired and he misses his mom, and he knows that we’re all good. He got to witness a miracle in front of his own eyes. He got to witness all his children graduate—some struggles, but the confidence and willpower and determination gets you through anything.
My father has given us the best tool for life, and that’s to always work hard and provide for your family, no matter what. He was one legged and still carried us as babies somehow, cooked for us, and drove us to school and around Terrace to trick-or-treat. He couldn’t do much with us, but yet, he still did everything; couldn’t play sports with us, but he played games; couldn’t play outside with us but watched anything we wanted with us. He didn’t like wrestling at all (WWE) but still turned off NHL (his most favourite sport in the world) so we kids could watch our wrestling, even during playoff time. Now NHL is my go to!
I’m happy my father helped me graduate and taught me what he did, all the cooking skills and manners and how to love and care for a woman and treat her. Thank you, father, Albert, my dad. God bless you and RIP.-Evan, November 3, 2020
To learn more about The Good, The Bad and The Innocent: The Tragic Reality Behind Residential Schools, an Albert Etzerza Story , including where you can purchase a copy, please visit albertetzerza.com.