Stopping the Ripple: First Nations man ends vicious cycle of residential schools

Inter-generational trauma moved through Randy Kakegamick’s family like a ripple across a pond.

Randy Kekegamick with his son. Kenneth Jackson/Nation to Nation.

There’s a story Randy Kakegamick tells about the neglect he faced as a child.

It was late one night and his mom was out so he took off wandering the streets of Ottawa.

A drunk man chased him into an alley and attacked him thinking his bag of white cookies was cocaine.

He was eight-years-old.

“It’s forever instilled in my head being attacked by a grown man; being a little boy. I woke up in a pool of blood and I ran,” said Kakegamick, 42, showing the scar over his left eye.

The Ojibway-Cree man never stopped running until about three years ago.

He was in jail, a familiar place for most of his adult life.

When he got bail he went into the LifeHouse program at the Ottawa Mission that helps adult men get sober.

It wasn’t easy.

He had been drinking for years.

“I went for a cigarette there’s somebody drunk right there,” he said.

He didn’t break.

“I just had to look toward where I was,” he said.

And where he didn’t want be.

From there he set out on a journey to stay sober and has been ever since.

He soon realized some of the demons chasing him weren’t by his doing.

He explained this last winter to a class of students in a social working program at the University of Ottawa where he was brought in as a guest speaker and invited Nation to Nation, which has been following his journey over the last year.

“All of the it dawned on me not ‘till I’d say two-and-a-half years ago.

I didn’t know about all this until I tried to thoroughly think about the impact residential schools had,” he explained to the students.

Staying sober means ignoring that dark passenger.

“It’s always patiently waiting,” said Kakegamick.

It’s up to him to ignore it, just like it was to stop drinking in the first place.

No one can do it for him.

Investigative Reporter

Kenneth Jackson is an investigative reporter in Ottawa, Ont. with more than two decades in the business. He got his start in community newspapers before joining the Ottawa Sun in 2007 where he worked the police beat. In 2011, Jackson joined APTN to break the Bruce Carson scandal. The former senior aide to Prime Minister Stephen Harper tried using his contacts in the federal government to sign water deals with First Nations. The RCMP would charge Carson with influence peddling based on APTN’s reporting. The case would make it all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, which upheld his conviction in 2018. In recent years, Jackson has focused, almost exclusively, on the child welfare system in Ontario. The work has earned multiple awards, including the 2020 Michener Award.

Executive Producer / Ottawa

Todd Lamirande is Red River Metis. Todd first joined APTN in 2000 as a writer - researcher. He went on to be a videojournalist based in Vancouver. Todd has hosted three programs for APTN News and Current Affairs: the national news, Investigates and Nation to Nation.

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