And the damage simply spread after that.
Two other family children taken on by Chris and Agnes Beach in Winnipeg learned last year that their mother, who had become an alcoholic and a prostitute, was now also a murder victim.
And Adam Beach himself was sexually abused--even though he never so much as set foot in one of the church-run institutions, the last of which closed down in 1996.
"I was saved," Adam Beach believes, "when my parents died and my uncle took me away to the city."
Adam Beach is an adherent to the theory that many natives today are suffering from a sort of post-traumatic stress disorder that has been passed down from generation to generation by those who suffered abominable abuses in the residential school system.
It is an idea that was explored in a native-made film by Georgina Lightning, Older Than America, starring, among others, Adam Beach.
"My family never taught me my language because they were taught their language was bad and only English was good," he says. "My parents and other parents didn't want my generation to get their face slapped for speaking our own language."
This was but one of many things he believes was learned at residential school: Have contempt for your own culture, your language, yourself.
For more on the subject, see Why Americans Commit Suicide.