The Story of the Chelsea Family and a First Nation Community's Will to Heal

By Carolyn Parks Mintz

Categories: Biography, BIPOC
Imprint: Caitlin Press
Paperback : 9781987915884, 224 pages, May 2019

Resolve explores the harrowing, personal journey of the Chelseas—a simultaneous celebration of strength and a condemnation of systemic racism—that calls for a closer look at the status of Canada’s Reconciliation efforts.


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: The Story of the Chelsea Family and 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.


  • Commended, Lieutenant Governor’s Historical Writing Awards (BC Historical Federation) 2019


“Carolyn Parks Mintz’s understanding of and compassion for Indigenous history and culture are one and the same. She fully comprehends, from a journalistic point of view, that there is a story to be told, and in Resolve she has done that—recounting the life experiences of a remarkable couple, Andy and Phyllis Chelsea, and building around those, the history of Canada’s First Peoples and their hope for the future.”

—Frank Antoine, co-founder of Moccasin Trails Inc.

“Trauma and alcohol are a bad combination. But thanks to people like Andy Chelsea and what the band at Alkali Lake did, most of us are on our feet again. The Chelseas led us in the direction of good, down the pathway of a better life again.”

—Ronnie Jules, a friend of Andy Chelsea