Broken Circle

The Dark Legacy of Indian Residential Schools—Commemorative Edition

ISBN 9781772034158
Softcover | Publication Date: May 17, 2022
Book Dimensions: 5.5 in. x 8.5 in.
224 Pages
$24.95 CAD

About the Book

A new commemorative edition of Theodore Fontaine’s powerful, groundbreaking memoir of survival and healing after years of residential school abuse.

Originally published in 2010, Broken Circle: The Dark Legacy of Indian Residential Schools chronicles the impact of Theodore Fontaine’s harrowing experiences at Fort Alexander and Assiniboia Indian Residential Schools, including psychological, emotional, and sexual abuse; disconnection from his language and culture; and the loss of his family and community. Told as remembrances infused with insights gained through his long healing process, Fontaine goes beyond the details of the abuse that he suffered to relate a unique understanding of why most residential school survivors have post-traumatic stress disorders and why succeeding generations of Indigenous children suffer from this dark chapter in history. With a new foreword by Andrew Woolford, professor of sociology and criminology at the University of Manitoba, this commemorative edition will continue to serve as a powerful testament to survival, self-discovery, and healing.

About the Author(s)

Theodore Niizhotay Fontaine (1941–2021) was a member and former chief of the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba. He attended the Fort Alexander and Assiniboia Indian Residential Schools from 1948 to 1960. As a youth, he played senior hockey across Western Canada before moving north to direct a mineral exploration crew in the Northwest Territories, a formative experience that set him on a lifelong path toward self-discovery and healing. Theodore graduated in civil engineering from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in 1973 and went on to work extensively in the corporate, government and First Nations sectors, including eleven years with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs as an advisor and executive director. He served in leadership and voluntary roles with organizations such as the Banff Centre for Management, Peace Hills Trust, the Indigenous Leadership Development Institute, the Manitoba Museum, the Victorian Order of Nurses, and Palliative Care Manitoba. Theodore was a regular speaker and media commentator on residential schools and presented his bestselling memoir, Broken Circle: The Dark Legacy of Indian Residential Schools, to more than 1,500 audiences in Canada and the United States. He broke new ground by supporting other survivors and by seeking reconciliation directly with those who were perpetrators of his abuse.


“Theodore Niizhotay Fontaine’s clarity, candour, courage, and grace shine through Broken Circle, truly a memoir for our time. Here is the voice of a beloved Elder who takes his child-self by the hand and allows us all to witness firsthand the atrocities of Canada’s Indian Residential School system. You will be awed by his strength, moved by his insight, and forever changed by his generosity and spirit.”
—Charlene Diehl, Director, Winnipeg International Writers Festival
“First and foremost, Broken Circle is a reflection of Ted’s courage. It is also a hopeful, inspirational story that will give courage to other residential school survivors. It will show them that they’re not alone and that these unique stories are a part of Canadian history that should be told. Above all, Broken Circle is about healing and reconciliation. It makes its point, but there’s nothing vindictive about it. Lovely.”
—Phil Fontaine, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, owner/operator of Ishkonigan Consulting & Mediation
“A commendable and solemn depiction of First Nations life post-1940s and the consequences of residential schools. An important contribution to First Nations literature and history of Indian Residential Schools.”
—Shawn A-In-Chut Atleo, National Chief, Assembly of First Nations
“Theodore Fontaine has written a testimony that should be mandatory reading for everyone out there who has ever wondered, 'Why can’t Aboriginal people just get over Residential Schools?' Mr. Fontaine’s life story is filled with astonishing and brutal chapters, but, through it all, time, healing, crying, writing, friends and family, and love—sweet love—have all graced their way into the man, father, son, brother, husband, and child of wonder Theodore has always deserved to be. What a humbling work to read. I’m grateful he wrote it and had the courage to share it. Mahsi cho."
—Richard Van Camp
“Too many survivors of Canada’s Indian residential schools live to forget. Theodore Fontaine writes to remember. It’s taken a lifetime to make peace with the pain, shame and fear inflicted upon a little boy wrenched from his family when he was only seven. Ted hasn’t forgotten, but he has forgiven. This is what makes his voyage of self-discovery so compelling. This memoir is a life lesson about hope, healing and happiness.”
—Hana Gartner, CBC’s The Fifth Estate