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Kamloops father working to break cycle of abuse from residential schools

Brandon Daniels and his wife Delyla's daughters are pictured in this submitted photo.The girls are dancers and students at Skelep School of Excellence.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Brandon Daniels/Remington John Photography
June 14, 2021 - 7:00 PM

A Kamloops father says he goes above and beyond for his little girls to 'break the cycle' of abusive parenting that resulted from Canada's residential schools.

Brandon Daniels lives with his family in Kamloops. His wife Delyla is a member of the Kamloops Indian Band. His given name is Tatanga Ska, which translates into White Buffalo. He is a Stoney Nakoda Sioux from the Bearspaw band located west of Calgary.

Daniels said he was raised by a father who grew up in a residential school. 

“When I made my girls cry for the first time I knew right then and there that I had to break the cycle,” he said. “How my dad was treated in residential school was the only way he knew how to raise and discipline his children. When I became a parent I automatically went into that state of mind where I thought I had to teach my children by spanking them. Using fear and instilling it to control our people came from the schools.  That was what was done to my generation and we need to realize that the cycle can be broken."

Growing up deep in his culture, Daniels says he knew from a young age that something wasn’t right with society and the government. The physical, emotional and mental abuse his parents had suffered was delivered onto their children and mostly kept quiet.

“My parents never really talked about what happened behind those doors,” Daniels said. “Once my mom said the sisters put soap in her mouth because she said ‘hi’ to her brother. I thank the Creator my father didn’t suffer sexual abuse.

"The recent tragic news defines why I was raised and disciplined the way I was by my dad and why my late mom never defended me. I have forgiven them.”

Brandon met his wife, Delyla at the annual Kamloopa Powwow in 1999. Prior to coming to Kamloops, he travelled extensively to powwows all over Turtle Island (North America). Daniels works as a cultural mentor for Indigenous trades students. The couple has twin daughters they are very proud of.

Brandon Daniels met his wife Delyla at the annual Kamloopa Powoww in 1999.
Brandon Daniels met his wife Delyla at the annual Kamloopa Powoww in 1999.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Brandon Daniels

“Ever since my girls learned how to walk they have been dancing in the powwows,” Daniels said. “Ella is a jingle dress dancer and Alexa is a traditional dancer. I taught my girls about their cultural heritage from my side of the family. I do my best to teach them the Nakoda language and the cultural ways of my tribe as well as my wife's tribe, which is the Secwepemc.

"The school my girls attend is the Skelep School of Excellence. There, they learn about the Secwepemc culture and language. I have nothing against the English language and culture but as First Nations, it is my responsibility to teach my children about our ways so they can continue to teach their children, grandchildren and so on.

"I always tell my girls to adapt to what is around them and use it in a positive way. Racism will always be around, the solution lies in how we deal with it. And we all need encouragement, no matter who we are or what we are doing.  Tiny shifts in attitude can make a big difference.”

Daniels himself experienced racism growing up while playing hockey, and to this day, regrets his decision to cut off his hair to stay in the league.

“Cutting my hair off was the worst thing I have done,” Daniels said. “As a result, I almost lost my identity and my true self. Now that I have children of my own, I do my best to explain the negative effects of racism and what it has done to our people because I do not want them to go through what I've been through.”

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