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Resolve

Andy and Phyllis Chelsea and the Story of a First Nation Community’s Will to Heal

Carolyn Parks Mintz

Andy and Phyllis Chelsea met during their years spent at the St. Joseph’s Mission School in Williams Lake, BC. Like the thousands of others forced into the church-run residential school system, Andy and Phyllis are no strangers to the ongoing difficulties experienced by most Indigenous peoples in Canada. The couple married in 1964 but brought the trauma of their mission school years into their marriage. The Chelseas’ struggle with alcohol came to an abrupt halt in 1971 when their daughter, Ivy, then aged seven, stated that she and her brothers did not want to live with their parents because of the drinking, that they would stay with their Grandmother, their Kye7e. Andy and Phyllis chose sobriety to preserve their family. This decision sparked a lifetime of activism for the couple, which included overcoming the challenges caused by Canada’s disregard for their community. Throughout the twenty-seven years Andy was Chief of the Alkali Lake Esk’et First Nation, the Chelseas worked to eradicate alcoholism and took steps to overcome the rampant intergenerational trauma that existed for the people of Alkali Lake. Their efforts, their story and the perseverance of the members of their village have inspired Indigenous groups facing similar struggles throughout the world.

Resolve: Andy and Phyllis Chelsea and the Story of a First Nation Community’s Will to Heal explores the harrowing, personal journey of the Chelseas. By combining personal interviews and historical records, biographer Carolyn Parks Mintz shares the Chelseas’ transition from residential schools to state-sanctioned reservations to international recognition of their activism in the face of ongoing repression. A simultaneous celebration of strength and a condemnation of systemic racism, Resolve is a personal and deeply moving story that calls for a closer look at the status of Canada’s reconciliation efforts from the Chelseas’ perspective.