on the day I learned I was not aboriginal

Hello by tosya on etsy

Hello by tosya on etsy

It was my first day of grade three. We had moved in the summer, from in town to five miles out of town, just down the road from the reserve. I was a kid. Everything was new. I didn't have buddies on the block anymore: my nearest friend was a mile-and-a-half bike ride away. I couldn't walk to school anymore: I shared a seat on the bus. I wouldn't be coming home for lunch anymore: instead, I carried my cherry red Mickey Mouse lunchbox. 

So, when I found my way to the right classroom, and sat in my assigned chair, you can bet that I was up for anything good. 

New teacher: she was old. National anthem: we sang it. But no Lord's Prayer after, like before. That's okay. Roll call: "Lori-Ann." Well, that's my name, but. . . not what everybody called me. Some kids were asked for the band number. I felt left out. But too shy to ask for that special question.

I came home that night, exhausted, trying to remember the names of the girls who I would sit with for the next six years on the bus, but excited, too. A new school! New friends! And I asked my mom, "What's my band number?"

She smiled. And told me that I didn't have one. That was only for kids from the reservation. And I'm not one of them.