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Indian Teens Lonely

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      JANUARY 1971      v02 n01 p08  

Loneliness is, or can be, an Indian youngster strange to the big city.

This year, 450 Indian teenagers from remote northern reserves, from Bella Bella, Hazelton, the Skeena and Nass River valleys, have come south to attend high school in the British Columbia lower mainland.

It is to counteract the feeling of strangeness that the Indian affairs department places major emphasis on the work of its guidance counsellors, in co-operation with the families in whose homes the youngsters are placed.

The department quotes one of the counsellors:

"The kids sometimes worry about how they are getting along with their classmates. And often they're lonely. They wonder what's going on back home, what they're missing, how their family is.

"Sometimes they're unsure what's expected of them by their school and by their boarding-home parents, because the standards can be different from what they are used to back home.

"Often they are surprised if their boarding-home parents worry about them if they don't know where they are.... On the reserve their parents know they aren't far away and will be back soon.  "And yet this kind of thing can be a real worry for the boarding-home parent who is trying to fulfil his responsibility to the student in the only way he knows, which might be a way the student doesn't understand.

"The ideal is when the boarding home becomes a second home for the student, when there is an acceptance on both sides of each other's ways and routines."