Remembering and waiting

Review of 'The Train' by Jodie Callaghan.

As young Ashley walks to school through the quiet countryside, a car speeds past her and drops off an elderly man by a dilapidated railroad track where the old train station used to stand. The First Nations girl recognizes her great-uncle and runs to him. When she asks Uncle why he has come to sit by the tracks, he tells her that he is waiting for the train. Ashley knows that trains no longer use the ruined tracks so she asks him to explain.

Uncle hesitates, then sadly relates the tragic story of how he and other children in his First Nations community were wrenched from their parents and traditions, put on a train at that station, and sent to a residential school. He shares that he was there for six years, unable to speak any English, lonely and afraid. With tears in his eyes, he says, “I was like a little mouse, hiding in my room. I tried to be invisible. But they found me.”

Ashley is confused and asks Uncle, “Why did they do that?” Uncle replies, “Because we were different.” He explains that he comes to the tracks to remember what happened, but also to wait “for what we lost that day to come back to us.”

In this poignant children’s picture book, author Jodie Callaghan, a Mi’gmaq woman from the Listuguj First Nation in Gespegewa’gi near Quebec, shares the difficult, painful reality of residential schools with young readers in an age-sensitive manner. The book would be best understood and appreciated when read with an adult who can answer questions that will most likely arise.


You just read something for free. How can a small Canadian publication offer quality, award-winning content online with no paywall?

Because of the generosity of readers like you.

Be our


Just think about Vincent van Gogh, who only sold one painting in his lifetime. How did he keep going? Because of the support of his brother, Theo. And now over 900 exceptional Vincent van Gogh paintings are famous worldwide.

You can be our Theo.

As you read this, we’re hard at work on new content. Like Vincent, we’re trying to create something unique. Hope-filled, independent journalism feels just as urgent and just as unlikely as van Gogh’s bold brushstrokes. We need readers like you who believe in this work, and who provide us with the resources to do it. Enable us to pursue stories of renewal:

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *