Back to the Red Road

A story of survival, redemption and love

Florence Kaefer

and Edward Gamblin

In 1954, when Florence Kaefer was just nineteen, she accepted a job as a teacher at Norway House Indian Residential School of Manitoba. Not fully aware of the difficult conditions the students were enduring, Florence and her fellow teachers nurtured a school full of lonely and homesick young children.

Edward was only five when he was brought to the school at Norway House and Florence remembered him as a shy and polite young boy. He left the school at sixteen and continued to face challenges in a world that was both hostile and unfamiliar to him. But Edward found success and solace in his career as a musician, writing songs about the many political issues facing Aboriginal people in Canada.

Many years later, Florence unexpectedly reconnected with him when she discovered his music. She was captivated by his voice, but shocked to hear him singing about the abuse he and the other children had been subjected to at Norway House. Motivated to apologize on behalf of the school and her colleagues, Florence contacted Edward. “Yes, I remember you and I accept your apology,” Edward told her. “Reconciliation will not be one grand, finite act. It will be a multitude of small acts and gestures played out between individuals.”

The story of their personal reconciliation is both heartfelt and heartbreaking as Edward begins to share his painful truths with his family, Florence and the media. After Edward’s death in 2010, Florence continued to advocate for truth and reconciliation. Back to the Red Road is more than their story: it is the story of our nation and how healing can begin, one friendship, one apology at a time.