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Residential schools were a hot commodity in Canada during the 1900’s. These schools were responsible for educating and caring for aboriginal people but were secretly the complete opposite. Aboriginal children from all over Canada were taken from their families and were forced to live in these church-run schools. Their main focus was to eliminate native culture but training adults was easier than teaching children so these schools only hunted for children. Indian Horse includes many unfortunate events that happened in residential schools. Saul’s only relief from the outcome of his life at St. Jeromes is hockey. Hockey is the best thing to happen to Saul because it gives him a sense of comfort and relieves him from his sorrows that are given to him at St. Jeromes.
To begin, when hockey was first introduced to Saul it was his escape from reality. When he scrapes the ice in the mornings it keeps himself busy and keep his mind from wandering. When Saul plays for the school team he enjoys it because this keeps him away from being in the school and all of the horrors inside it: “The secret morning practices that moved me closer to the game also moved me further away from the horror. I used the game to shelter me from seeing the truth, from having to face it every day. Later, after I was gone, the game kept me from remembering” (Wagamese Pg#). Hockey is another form of comfort for Saul. When he is playing hockey his mind is so focused on the move if the play, he has no time to think of being taken from the one person who really cared about him throughout his life. Later on in the book Saul uses his skill on the ice to escape the racism from his teammates and the spectators. Saul’s gift for hockey is so special that everyone looks past the colour of his skin to realize his full potential.
To continue, hockey gives Saul a purpose in life. Before he was introduced to hockey his life was very bad. He had nothing that gave him a fulfillment of happiness and he was living in a very dark place. Hockey made Saul prove to himself that he is more than just an average Indian child. Practicing stickhandling and skating at sunrise gave him a sense of a future, a future where he could be free. Hockey kept Saul going, once he made The Moose he was the happiest he had been in a very long time: “We were a league of nomads, mad for the game, mad for the road, mad for ice and snow, an Artic wind on our faces and a frozen puck on the blade of our sticks” (Wagamese Pg#). Virgil is a very strong positive influence on Saul. Virgil didn’t want Saul to waste his talent on the Moose and persuaded him to move onto bigger and better teams that need his special skill.
In addition, hockey made saul strive to become a better player. He wanted to fit in to the Moose but he wasn’t big enough for the players standards. Saul persevered and strived to become a better and more confident player. Once the players realized Saul was a positive attribute to their team, Saul finally was accepted into the Moose family: “No one said a word. They didn’t have to. I stripped off my jersey and sat there breathing in the atmosphere of that small wooden shack. I was a Moose” (Wagamese Pg#). Another reason why hockey made him strive to be better is he wants to prove to white people that Indians are no different than them. Saul become very violent after the crowd turned him into a goon. Once his real meaning of hockey was gone, he could not escape the horrors that he used hockey to hide from.
Furthermore, hockey is the best thing that happened to Saul because it lead him to escape the residential school. Saul escaping the residential school is the best thing that has ever happened to him. If he did not leave he would have been sexually assaulted even more than he was before and this could have leaded to suicide just like the other students in his school. Saul wanted to pursue his dreams as a hockey player, but he could not do this while living at St. Jeromes: “I looked around at all those adult faces, lingering on Father Leboutilier’s. I’d never been offered choice before. ‘Alright’ I said. ‘I’ll go'” (Wagamese 97). .Another reason why escaping the residential school was beneficial to him is because he met the Kellys. Once he met the Kellys, his life turned around in a positive manner, they gave him a loving and understanding family that let him pursue his dreams.
In conclusion, hockey is the best thing to happen to Saul because it was his escape from reality, it gave him a purpose in life, it made him strive to be better and it allowed him to escape the residential school system.

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