Slideshow Test

UPDATE # I ON 17 JUNE 2021: I unreservedly apologise for a using a hurtful comparative term in my original post title here because I failed to consider the victims of that term as a result of the many lives devastated by it in the past.  I have edited this post due to a communication received: 

“Paul, I would very much prefer  “. . . . .” for example. I think addressing this terrible wrong by applying vocabulary from another wrong suggests a blindness to victims who have been slaughtered by ‘. . . . .’  in the not so distant past, and arguably as we speak, in my opinion Caroline”

UPDATE # II ON 17 JUNE 2021: Another incoming comment is as follows with my responses [in line]:

Residential school exhibits have the potential to trigger and cause additional ongoing trauma and harm to Indigenous audiences who may visit museums. [I acknowledge this in the following with reference in my “CAUTION: TRC on its Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line (1-866-925-4419) that is available 24 hours a day . . . “]

Any exhibits like this need to be developed thoughtfully and respectfully and involve survivor groups. [I acknowledge this up front in my recommendations by emphasising Indigenous leadership in such exhibit projects.]
Making museum exhibitions may not be the priority of Indigenous Nations or survivor groups. [I have heard at least one survivor comment that the very tough process of giving survivors’ testimony before the TRC was undertaken so that succeeding generations of Indigenous & other children would not have to go through the same traumas. Otherwise, another survivor has identified the need for “. . . a reminder that this should never happen again to people, regardless of their race” (Kidd 2020)].

There are many other ways for this information to be shared and many existing resources out there. [In my view, museums need to operate with a focus on their ‘core business’ of interpreting heritage through the medium of exhibitions.]
I am not saying settlers like myself should ignore this history and the implications carried into the present.

There are plenty of revisions of text/interpretation that can be done in every exhibit that can speak truth about stolen land and genocidal attempts, part of which includes residential schools. In this day and age all museum texts and content should be reviewed by many eyes, including your museum’s Indigenous Advisory Committee. [I completely agree. However, simply fixing existing label copy will not replace the need for museum practitioners to provide the expertise to survivors to create exhibits on IRS as was carried out with the Kwantlen First Nation at the Langley Centennial Museum & National Exhibition Centre case outlined below.]

With best wishes, Laura

For the record your blogger, Paul C. Thistle, is a descendant of white settlers in southwestern Ontario, Canada that is located in the traditional territory of ‎the Attiwonderonk (Neutral), Anishinabewaki ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯᐗᑭ, and Haudenosaunee peoples (www.native-land.ca/ ).

I am tremendously blessed to have been raised and retired here due to the generosity of Indigenous peoples who share their homelands with me. I believe that a reconcili-ACTION response from white settlers in Canada remains pathetically long overdue.

QUESTION: Does any museum have the St. Anne’s Residential School electric chair(s)? See below.

Introduction:

First of all, kudos to Laura Peers & the Ontario Museum Association (OMA) listserv who brought to our attention the British Columbia Museum Association’s (2021) response to the unrecorded graves of 215 children recently discovered at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, Canada. The OMA followed up the next day with addition crucial background materials (Ontario Museum Association 2021).

Of course, It must be noted here that this story is nothing new to Indigenous peoples. It should not be ‘news’ to Canadians in June 2021 either. Indigenous residential school survivor’s testimonies, cries of anguish, & proofs provided in all too many studies have typically been ignored. Ever since i) 1999, one of the 100 most important Canadian books ever written” (according to the editors of Canada’s preeminent review of books, The Literary Review of Canada) A National Crime by John S. Milloy (2017 original 1999), ii) the widely circulated Truth & Reconciliation Commission’s (2012) Calls to Action in which the term “residential school” occurs 48 times among its 94 Calls, & iii) especially the TRC’s 2015 publication of the report Canada’s Residential Schools: Missing Children and Unmarked Burials have been ‘in the public domain.’ All the attention to the evils of Indigenous residential schools in early June 2021 is welcome but, colonially, characteristically rather belated in Canada.

[UPDATE # III ON 5 JULY 2015] It happens that other important publications detailing the conditions in & outcomes from residential schools for Indigenous children have been available for at least 158 years as outlined in the following:

In 1863, Florence Nightingale – best known as the founder of modern nursing – published a statistical report [titled Sanitary Statistics] on the health of Indigenous students in day and boarding schools across the British Empire. . . [Nightingale wrote,]

The Indian schools in Canada afford a total annual death rate of 12 ½ per 1,000 for both sexes; but the mortality of girls is nearly double that of boys. . . the mortality of native children at school as double that of English children of the same ages (Pearce 2020).

Subsequently, James Cullingham (2021) in “Now ain’t the time for your tears” identifies other widely published reports on residential schools not mentioned above, including:

In 1996 The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples led by co-chairs Georges Erasmus, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations and Justice René Dussault tabled a comprehensive investigation on many issues including the history, impact and legacy of residential schools. [Cullingham concludes,]

It is disingenuous at best for any reasonably educated Canadian to excuse her or his self with the ‘I didn’t know’ refrain in regards to residential schools. Like the architects of Canadian “Indian” policy from the late 19th and early 20th centuries too many of us were prepared to see Indigenous people as marginal and their negative experiences as regrettable, but inevitable collateral damage on the path to Canadian civilization, economic development and expansion (Cullingham 2021).

Of course, Canada’s news feeds change rapidly & 6 days after the discovery of 215 unknown & unmarked children’s graves at the Kamloops Residential School broke, a murderous racist attack on a Muslim family in London, ON now has replaced the rapt attention on residential schools. It is obvious to this observer that no one in Canada can claim we are not a demonstrably racist society or that there is ‘no systemic racism’ here in the past & up until today. Witness the residential school system & the live-streamed racist treatment of Atikamekw woman Joyce Echaquan in a Quebec hospital.

What I believe necessary in Canada is some ‘directed culture change’ (an anthropological term meaning the use of power by one group to dominate another through interference with traditional cultures & forcefully modifying cultural characteristics (e.g. beating children to stop them using their traditional languages in residential schools) that will have to be different from the government & church version of it. Could Canadian schools, universities, & museums deliberately teach change in the culture of racism? We really have no other choice but to engage.

In the first week of June 2021, quite apparently we need to work rather hard—as hard as residential schools did to destroy Indigenous languages for example—at changing the culture of hate that has been & is is still being directed toward difference in this county.

In fact, if Canada is to solve its racism problem, we must become a deliberately “anti-racist” society following the approach of American University professor Ibram X. Kendi (2019). He describes how anti-racist individual actions and systemic (i.e. policy) changes can be made. Also see your blogger’s related post “Can Museums Do More than ‘Deplore’ Police Knees on Black Necks?” (Thistle 2020a) linked below in the References Cited.

Longer ago, when your blogger was teaching high school Native Studies in The Pas, MB 1975-1978, I was using Ian Adams’ 1967 article “The Lonely Death of Charlie Wenjack” that had occurred as a result of his attempted winter escape from a Kenora, ON residential school. I had found it in the widely read Maclean’s magazine—at its peak with 2.3 million Canadian readers weekly—as well as mixed descent Mi’kmaq singer-songwriter Willie Dunn’s (1972) “Charlie Wenjack” song found below during classes dealing with residential schools. Thus, public information on the truth about residential schools has been ‘out there’ in Canada for a minimum of 44 years now. Additional clear information on the terrible damage being done to Indigenous residential school students has been publicly available for at least 114 years now as explained below.

BCMASteps Museums and Museum Professionals Can Take”:

The above named BCMA (2021) communication puts forward many recommendations on how museums can take effective actions to address the widespread concerns raised in recent extensive media accounts of grief & outrage upon the detection of 215 child unrecorded & unmarked graves at the Kamloops Residential School. Murray Sinclair, Commissioner of the TRC, that had requested—but was denied—additional federal funding to carry out further investigation beyond TRC’s best ‘guestimate’ made at the time of 3,200 Indigenous child deaths at residential schools, states that there are likely to be many, many more such execrable examples on other school grounds yet to be discovered (Toronto Star staff 2021). With the limited resources available to it, the TRC did produce a study anyway from the evidence available (Truth & Reconciliation Commission 2015).

graph showing Indigenous students death rates
TRC Illustrations Volume Figure 2 at https://nctr.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/AAAA-Hamilton-Report-Illustrations-final.pdf . Remember; the records are seriously incomplete.

From BCMA’s introduction that justly & properly identifies the need for action by museums that has to sprout from ‘sympathies’:

This tragic news is an undeniable reminder of the violent genocide of Indigenous peoples and cultures upon which the nation known as Canada was founded. On a human level, it is difficult to comprehend the loss and suffering experienced by the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation and to the many Nations whose children were also stolen and sent to Kamloops Indian Residential School, or, to quote the words of a survivor, “the evil place.” We extend our sympathies to all Indigenous peoples for whom this news brings up deeply traumatic memories. For settlers, confronting our colonial legacy and making meaningful steps towards truth and reconciliation can feel like an impossible task compared to the enormity of pain we have caused.

. . . time for [ . . . action]. . . There are tangible, concrete steps that museums and museum professionals can take today that can make a difference.

If you are offended, saddened, or enraged by Thursday’s [1 June 2021] news and want to do your part, here are things you can do to take action. . . (BCMA 2021) [emphasis added].

Very significantly, this expression of sympathy for & solidarity with survivors of residential school also contains a listing of 3 practical categories of resources under ACTIONS FOR INDIVIDUALS including read the TRC http://www.trc.ca/  [perhaps starting with the 94 Calls to Action (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada 2012)] & 4 categories of resources under ACTIONS FOR INSTITUTIONS (British Columbia Museums Association 2021).

What—if anything—Might be Added Here?

May I suggest that, more than ‘reading TRC reports’, reconcili-ACTION by museums be carried out in conjunction with the BCMA’s recommended “Incorporate Reconciliation into Your Organizational Practices” [to which I would add the term Policies] is now an inescapable requirement. “Museums and museum professionals have the responsibility of helping to shape how Canadians view our shared histories. We cannot avoid discussing difficult topics” (British Columbia Museums Association 2021) [emphasis added].

Canadian Museums Association (CMA) Executive Director, Vanda Vitali (2021), agrees:

Through their lives, their suffering and in their death, these children leave a legacy that must never be forgotten. . .

As a community committed to preserving and interpreting the past so that present and future generations may learn from it, the museums community has a special role and responsibility to preserving and telling the story of these children and their communities. . .

Together, we hope to make museums safe spaces where all can come to learn, to share, to grieve and to support one another as we learn and acknowledge our painful past, our imperfect present and work toward Reconciliation and a better future for all”[emphasis added].

Due to my own early personal & later academic interest in Indigenous histories & cultures, I have attended to the first news of the unrecorded & unmarked child grave discoveries at the Kamloops Residential School. In years past & especially in the past week, I now have accumulated 76 bookmarks on the topic. In the course of my research, I was touched—& rather surprised—to note the Canadian public’s responses to leave memorials composed of children’s shoes on the steps of the responsible denominations’ churches (Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, United . . .) & at least some instances of such commemorations left on art gallery steps (Jarvis 2021; Casimir 2021).

Personal Aside:

These memorials reminded me of one residential school site I had visited in 1983 upon my return to The Pas, MB to take charge of the Sam Waller Little Northern Museum. Having taught high school Native Studies in The Pas from 1975 to 1978, I was aware of the local residential school, Guy Indian School (a.k.a. Guy Hill) [formerly at Sturgeon Landing, SK] that, while I taught in The Pas, was still being operated by the federal Department of Indian Affairs using staff associated with the Roman Catholic Church (National Centre for Truth & Reconciliation [2021]).

In October 1983, after the school had been closed in 1979, I went to the Guy Hill School site at Clearwater Lake, located 40 km northeast of The Pas, & photographed the site. Among the artifacts I saw on the School grounds were an abandoned child’s shoe & a tricycle. Unless otherwise indicated, all photographs in this post were taken by the author.

abandoned trycycle in long grass
Tricycle at the Guy Hill Indian School, October 1983. Sadly, the author seems to have mislaid my 35 mm colour slide of the single forlorn shoe I also found in the grass. See other views of this site in the first slide shown at the end of this blog under References Cited list.

 I have no information that any unrecorded burials of students are present at the Guy Indian School (Clearwater). However, the National Centre for Truth & Reconciliation ([2021]) names 3 students under the Guy Hill School’s web page section “Remembering the Following Students.”

I am informed only about one of them, Helen Betty Osborne, who, intending to go into a teaching career, had left Guy Hill to attend high school in The Pas. As now should be known as an all too common occurrence after the publication of The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (Audette, et al. 2019), 18-year-old Helen Betty Osborne was abducted from a street in The Pas by non-Indigenous men, sexually assaulted, beaten, & murdered at Clearwater Lake, MB on 13 November 1971.

This (at one time unsolved) case was one of 2 infamous murders of Indigenous people that, in 1988, gave rise to the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry of Manitoba (AJI) led by the later TRC Commissioner Chief Judge Murray Sinclair. The AJI’s Volume II: The Death of Helen Betty Osborne investigated her murder in depth, inter alia identifying “. . . racism, neglect and indifference, on the part of the citizens of the town, the police and of the Attorney General’s department” (Hamilton & Sinclair 1999: “Introduction” section). Also see the memorial to Helen Betty Osborne at the now empty Guy Hill Residential School site (Manitoba Historical Society 2020).

memorial to Helen Betty Osborne at the Guy Hill Indian Residential School historic site
Manitoba Historical Society photo of memorial to Helen Betty Osborne at the now empty Guy Hill Indian Residential School historic site. See author’s photos of the Guy Hill School site as it appeared in 1983 at the very bottom of this post under the References Cited list.

This brings me to what I very strongly believe should also be added to the BCMA recommendations. Since museums are in the business of “serving society,” when the residential school matters ‘iron’ is now so very ‘hot’ in Canada, museum practitioners need to ‘blacksmith’ these circumstances by striking many firm blows to put ‘reconciliation’ with residential school multi-generational survivors into ACTION.

Under the direction of survivors willing to participate, Museum collections need to be mobilised to create exhibits revealing residential schools history. In addition, museums—many of which possess archival collections too—have ethical obligations to make their collections of records accessible to the citizen victims of residential school abuse that may be evidenced in museum artifacts and/or associated data (Wells 2021).

In my personal work experience, many small museums operate as archives & possess important holdings of archival materials as well as artifacts. For example, the Sam Waller Little Northern Museum (now The Sam Waller Museum in The Pas) holds the diaries of its founder Sam Waller written while he was teaching at the Anglican St. Thomas Mission’s residential & day schools between 1923 & 1930 in Moose Factory, James Bay, ON (see Thistle 2020b; Thistle 1981).

One of Sam Waller’s diaries written at the Anglican St. Thomas Mission, 1923-1930. See other images of this mission taken by Mr. Waller in a slide show at the very end of this post under the References Cited. The TRC Illustrations Volume shows others under a different name.

These institutions and their staff members often also belong to professional archival organisations. May I recommend that we take the purpose of archives to preserve & make accessible records of enduring value to use our memberships in these organisations and their statements of ethics to lobby for free & open access. In some cases, we will need to pass resolutions at archival professional organisation AGMs to censure professional archives organisations’ religious order member institutions that hold records on residential schools, but deny access to these crucial records for residential school survivors and/or researchers (Johnson 2020; Platt 2021; Wells 2021). Isn’t providing access to our institutions’ holdings a crucial characteristic for a proper professionally & ethically run archive? In short, custodial institutions have ethical obligations to make their collections accessible to the citizen victims of abuse that may be evidenced in artifacts such as ‘electric chairs’ and/or associated records.

While on this subject, I ask readers to consider the Woodland Cultural Center’s “Save the Evidence Campaign.” This $23.5 million project in the adaptive-reuse of a former residential school heritage building in Brantford, ON intends to:

. . . raise awareness and support for the restoration of the former Mohawk Institute Residential School [1828-1970], and to develop the building into an Interpreted Historic Site and Educational Resource. As a site of conscience, the final goal is to create a fully-realized Interpretive Centre that will be the definitive destination for information about the history of Residential Schools in Canada, the experiences of Survivors of the schools, and the impact that the Residential School system has had on our communities. (Woodland Cultural Centre 2021) [emphasis added].

[As an aside here, see a detailed outline of the successful adaptive re-use of a heritage building for museum purposes in Thistle (2017) & Thistle (2021).]

We know that museums do hold & exhibit troubling artifacts on Indigenous history like the ‘rope that hanged Riel’ as well as his handcuffs, his moccasin & tuque worn by Metis leader Louis Riel to be ‘hung by the neck until dead’ in November 1885  (Thistle 1984: 368).

exhibit of a fragment of the 'rope that hanged Riel'
Leading vitrine in the Glenbow-Alberta Institute Museum’s Metis exhibition during its 1985 commemoration of the 1885 Metis Resistance. Stay tuned for many more illustrations of this exhibition to accompany the author’s review (Thistle 1984) in an upcoming post here. The other Riel artifacts named above appear in a slide show at the very end of this post.

This was the outcome of Canada’s racist colonial project to override Metis rights as British citizens in Manitoba & 18 years later as Canadian citizens in Saskatchewan. From the fact of Riel’s rope display, I jump immediately to a question: Does any museum hold the electric chair(s) used on Indigenous students at the St. Anne’s Residential School (Barrera 2018) or any other instruments of torture from these schools?

CAUTION HERE: The descriptions beyond the electric chair reports in Barrera’s extensive article based on Ontario Provincial Police case files are even more disturbing. These atrocious facts may cause unwanted distress among readers. In this light, resources to help residential school survivors have been made accessible by TRC on its Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line (1-866-925-4419) that is available 24 hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of his or her residential school experience. Other similar resources are linked in the BCMA (2021) “Steps Museums and Museum Professionals Can Take” web page & in Vitali (2021).

CBC reporter Jorge Barrera’s 2018 extremely disquieting investigative piece “The horrors of St. Anne’s” residential school (located in Fort Albany, ON near James Bay) states:

. . . former students of St. Anne’s describe experiencing physical, psychological and sexual abuse while at the school. . . . [&] claimed the school used an electric chair “for punishment and sport” in the book Up Ghost River. The electric chair was claimed to have been used between the mid-1950s and mid-1960s according to police testimony.[6] [emphasis added)]

Do such artifacts exist in museum collections & need to be on public display in order to provide some “remedial education” for white settlers in Canada (Godlewska et al. 2017) on Indigenous residential school history to Canadians? How might museums use such artifacts and others in their collections that relate to residential schools? If not in our museum institutions’ primary means of communication to the public—exhibitions—how else?

Need for Exhibits on Residential Schools:

The British Columbia Museums Association (2021) resource web page mentions museum collections only in 2 contexts: i) human remains [although not using that term] & ii) local governments “that house Indigenous ancestors or cultural property.” Exhibitions are mentioned only once in a rather critical sense: “Exhibits, programs, and information that overlook colonial violence or try to “tell both sides” of residential school experiences only perpetuate this violence and bring us further from truth and further from reconciliation.”

In this observer’s view however, much sooner than later, museum practitioners need to engage Indigenous people & let them take the lead in helping museum practitioners to participate in reconcili-ACTION by covering Canada with exhibits that interpret the true history & ongoing negative inter-generational outcomes of Canada’s colonialist-purposed residential schools.

Museums now have the “responsibility” “to honestly and openly confront our nation’s violent colonial legacy” (British Columbia Museums Association 2021; cf. Vitali 2021). I maintain this enjoinder imposes the need for museums & museum practitioners to cooperate with interested Indigenous partners to mine museum & other collections for residential school artifacts and/or to undertake deliberate collecting on this subject. See Olwen Purdue’s (2018) “Controversial Public History” for a clear justification for tackling controversial subjects such as residential schools & the existence of their electric chairs. Gonzales (2019) book Exhibitions for Social Justice gives advice on ‘how to.’

Why don’t museums that hold relevant artifacts & related records not create travelling exhibitions on residential schools that would be appropriately sized to fit into the temporary exhibit spaces available in ‘small’ museums across this country? In the United States, ‘small museum’ figures given by American Alliance of Museums show a surprising “59 percent of our member museums have zero to three full-time staff . . .” (Lott 2019: 5). In Canada, the proportion of small museums is likely the same given that the CMA has targetted “small organizations” in its current Strategic plan (Canadian Museums Association 2020: 2, 3, 5).

For the proper scale of such exhibits for small museums, 2 of my former small institutions that had temporary exhibit spaces, The Sam Waller Museum in The Pas, MB & the Langley Centennial Museum & National Exhibition Centre (LCM) in Fort Langley, BC have from 680 to ≅ 900 square feet available for the purpose. At the latter museum we used the space to partner closely with the Kwantlen First Nation to host an exhibit outlining local Indigenous traditional life, their colonial history including accounts from Kwantlen residential school survivors, & modern revitalisation. This exhibition was then requested for display at the nearby Fort Langley National Historic Site during the British Columbia sequicentennial celebrations  in 2018 to be its second venue.

testimonies of Kwantlen First Nation residential school survivors
Testimonies of Kwantlen First Nation residential school survivors in its exhibit “The River is Us” at LCM. Related images are show at the end of this post under References Cited. section

From my own experience seeking temporary exhibits for these relatively small spaces, I know that, much too often, desirable travelling exhibits on offer were too large or heavy (thus requiring loading docks not existing on-site) that made those small museums ineligible to host them. Please develop residential school exhibits to be placed in as many small museums as possible so we can cover the country with them! Those institutions without such on-site galleries might be able to find appropriate donated spaces for this and/or even smaller spaces. In the late 1950s & 1960s, The Sam Waller Museum’s founder regularly set up his collections at yearly festival venues, other events, & even made use of store windows in The Pas for such displays. After his death, this practice was continued, although not for such a serious purpose as Indian residential school legacies.

Ready-made art installations such as “The Witness Blanket” (2019; cf. Pacheo 2021) are an excellent start. The ‘blanket’ mullti-media work of art includes artifacts collected from residential schools including children’s shoes & it has appeared at smaller museums (Michelin 2019). Wouldn’t an exhibit with some more residential school children’s shoes paralleling the exhibits of both young & adult shoes at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial & Museum http://auschwitz.org/en/gallery/exhibits/evidence-of-crimes,1.html [search for the term “shoes” on that page accessed 4 June 2021] be impactful on the subject of residential schools for our visitors?

Could Canadian museums not stimulate a like ‘gut response’ to a residential school shoe exhibit even with fewer footwear artifacts? I firmly believe that museum collection objects have more of an emotional impact on visitors than an intellectual one. “The Witness Blanket” artist mixed descent Kwakwak’awakw Carey Newman (Ha-yalth-kingeme) has spoken about an Indigenous perspective on exhibits in an interesting CBC Radio One programme, “In Defence of Stuff” (Pacheo 2021; also see Witness Blanket 2021).

Non-Indigenous Canadians need museum resources to support their ‘remedial education’ about Indigenous history! See Godlewska et al. (2017). Because one of the first actions of the current Ontario government when it took office was to cancel the working group that had been engaged for some time in the creation of new Indigenous curricula for schools, in Ontario & elsewhere, schools now will desperately need resources to teach young Canadians more about residential schools. Two hundred and fifteen (215) Indigenous children have left us a “legacy” & Canada also has a “violent colonial legacy”—both of which museums MUST preserve & interpret in the service of society (cf. Vitali 2021; British Columbia Museums Association 2021).

Beyond this, I personally have felt ‘gut punched’  by the Canadian federal government’s egregiously shameful & unjustifiable ongoing court actions—spending $2.3 million tax payers’ dollars (Johnson 2020)—against survivors of the St. Anne’s Residential School attempts to gain access to the school records necessary to properly present their cases (Reynolds 2021; Stefanovich 2020; Angus 2020).

Note that in recent days a unanimous—but only due to the shameful abstentions of all Liberal Trudeau government cabinet members—a non-binding resolution to drop the Canadian government’s court case opposing St. Anne’s Residential School survivors’ access the records was passed in Parliament (Platt 2021). Museums & their human—& ‘humane’—resources have important public education roles in circumstances such as the discovery of 215 unrecorded & unmarked graves of Indigenous residential school students that, according to Hon. Murray Sinclair, very likely will be only the “tip of the iceberg” (CBC Radio 2021).

Here again, I want to stress that attention to residential school colonialism in Canada had been raised to a high level in 2015 with the publication of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, but progress on the TRC’s 94 Calls to Action has stalled & attention to these matters now has faded away since Truth & Reconciliation Commission report received significant media attention 6 years ago (Jewel & Mosby 2020). The Yellowhead Institute’s  “SPECIAL REPORT: Calls to Action Accountability: A 2020 Status Update on Reconciliation” concludes:

Ultimately, we find that Canada is failing residential school Survivors and their families. . . [Among 4 other main causes, this is due to] . . . Deep rooted paternalistic attitudes of politicians, bureaucrats, and other policy makers (Jewel & Mosby 2020).

Indigenous voices on the negative outcomes caused by residential schools all too often have been intentionally disregarded by Canadians & their governments for over 150 years now. This intentional discounting of Indigenous truths is the first of the reasons for Canada’s failures identified in Jewel & Mosby (2020) . . . if not racism—the ideation & the resulting systemic structure in Canada. We often have to ‘read it and weep’ about Indigenous history in Canada, the Americas & around the world.

Here, I challenge readers to ‘listen & weep’ about the deliberate Canadian government & church discounting of a doctor’s 1907 damning report on the very damaging impacts of residential schools on the health of their Indigenous students & the complete failure of the religious groups operating & Canada’s government funding of the schools to carry out their fiduciary responsibilities for their charges who were often forcibly removed from their families & communities (CBC Radio One Unreserved 2020).

Detail of Kent Monkman's painting "The Scream"
Detail of mixed descent Cree artist Kent Monkman’s 2017 painting “The Scream.”  See analysis from McGill University at https://www.mcgill.ca/dise/research/facultyresearchprojects/zhigwe-monkman-scream (accessed 11 June 2021).

In an interview on CBC Radio One’s Unreserved programme segment “Pushed out and silenced: How one doctor was punished for speaking out about residential schools.” Cindy Blackstock, OC FRSC, a Canadian-born Gitxsan activist for child welfare, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, & also a professor for the School of Social Work at McGill University has brought this to light again after it was first known from Milloy (2017 original 1999) reiterates:

While reading A National Crime by historian John Milloy, Blackstock came across the work of Dr. Peter Henderson Bryce. That’s when she thought to herself, “That’s the example. There’s the person who was of that time [1907], who knew better, who stood up for these kids and did everything in his power to make sure that they wouldn’t die” (CBC Radio One Unreserved 2021).

From his Dictionary of Canadian Biography entry (Lux 2018), Dr. Bryce was commissioned to visit 35 industrial and residential schools on the prairies to report on health conditions. The damning 1907 Bryce report described terrible living conditions for the students. He cited poor sanitation and ventilation in the schools and infections including significant levels of TB among the undernourished children. He reported, “We have created a situation so dangerous to health . . .” & Bryce wrote further, “Of the 1,537 students with records, nearly 25 per cent were dead” (Bryce 1907). “In the Report’s recommendations, which were never made public, Bryce directly blamed the government for the appalling conditions. . .[&] especially criticized its inadequate per-capita funding, which forced the churches to enrol more students and feed them less (Lux 2018).

This report was never acted upon by the Canadian Government. It was characterised by a residential school cleric principal as “new fangled” and declared that he [Bryce] “shouldn’t expect palaces for children.” A like government official’s response said the report was “scientific … [but] quite inapplicable to the system under which these schools are conducted” (Lux 2018). The report was shelved & Dr. Bryce was drummed out of the civil service. He then continued to publicly advocate to improve student health in residential schools, so at least some Canadians would have read about residential school conditions in newspaper articles of the day (CBC Radio One Unreserved 2021; Lux 2018).  

Another example of how Indigenous voices on residential schools have been overlooked in Canada up to the present day relates to Gord Downie’s (2016) Secret Path, a multimedia project (album, graphic novel, and animated film [as well as a charitable foundation]) on Chanie [formerly known as Charlie] Wenjack’s death by freezing after running away from a residential school in Kenora, ON. When Downie’s commendable effort is mentioned, I always strive to let people know that Gord Downie was not the first musician to present the terrible story of  Chanie Wenjack. Forty-four years before Secret Path was released, the ballad “Charlie Wenjack) by Willie Dunn (1972) was released.

I was reading Akwesasne Notes in the early 1970s & had purchased Willie Dunn’s album advertised in this hard-hitting Indigenous newspaper. Dunn’s self-titled LP put out by White Roots of Peace, Mohawk Nation, & published by Akwesasne Notes remains one of my most prized treasures. Many of his songs like “I Pity the Country” still can bring me tears. The Dunn estate now has put this & Mr. Dunn’s other music out again. In my view, this will be a strong support to “reconcile-ACTION!” (Dunn 2021).

When the Downie project was ‘all the rage’ in 2016 & the song & topic were on heavy rotation, I had e-mailed CBC Radio One to remind them about Willie Dunn’s song “Charlie Wenjack” but I never heard any plays of Mr. Dunn’s original song at that time. See my comment on the important Active History blog post “Chanie Wenjack and the Histories of Residential Schooling We Remember” by Sean Carleton (2018). I firmly recommend that readers here listen to Willie Dunn’s “Charlie Wenjack”at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogDB10Ox2Ro (accessed 4 June 2016). The ads can be skipped after the first one. The entire song apparently is not found on-line, so the following lyrics to follow have been completed from the LP cover:

Chorus: Walk on, little Charlie / Walk on through the snow

Moving down the railway line / Trying to make it home

And he’s made it forty miles / Six hundred left to go

It’s a long old lonesome journey / Shuffling through the snow

Lonely as a single star in the skies above

His father in a mining camp, his mother in the ground

And he’s looking for his dad / And he’s looking up for love

Just a lost little boy by the railroad track / Moving homeward bound

He’s a-gettin’ mighty hungry / It’s been a time since last he’s ate

And as the night grows colder / He wonders of his fate

For his legs are wracked with pain / As he staggers through the night

As he sees through his troubled eyes / His hands are turning white

Is that the great Wendigo / come to look upon my face

And are the stars exploding / down the misty aisles of space

Who’s that coming down the track / walking up to me

With her arms outstretched and waiting / waiting just for me.

 

As I have attempted to outline above, Willie Dunn’s music remains relevant to this minute & going forward.

Conclusion:

I ask again, is there some museum out there that has the St. Anne’s Residential School electric chair(s) in its storage vault—or knows where it might be located?

If so, it needs to be on public display somewhere in Canada in the service of Canadian white settler society self-awareness as well as to expose Canada’s colonial inter-generational impact on our Indigenous brothers & sisters citizens.

In the current circumstances where the Indian residential school issue iron is so hot, I firmly believe that museums must now attempt to strike many blows with exhibits to blacksmith true reconcili-ACTION for the Indigenous inter-generational survivors. Let’s see how well heritage preservation & interpretation institutions can carpet the entire country with small travelling exhibits with HUGE potential for emotional & intellectual impact on all Canadians.

A recent survey indicates that we have work to do with the Canadian public (Sandri 2021).

I reiterate: Museums now have the “responsibility” “to honestly and openly confront our nation’s violent colonial legacy” (British Columbia Museums Association 2021; cf. Vitali 2021).

Thanks for reading this far & thinking about this.

References Cited: [Update :  Apologies for not originally saving my links below to open in a new window as they do now, 13 June 2021.]

Adams, Ian. 1967. “The Lonely Death of Charlie Wenjack” Maclean’s, 80 (February 1967), 30-32, 43-44.

Angus, Charlie. 2020. [Hansard] “Charlie Angus on Criminal Code In the House of Commons on December 9th, 2020. openparliament.ca at https://openparliament.ca/debates/2020/12/9/charlie-angus-3/only/ (accessed 10 June 2021).

Audette, Michèle et al. 2019. Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. [Ottawa? Place of publication not provided in PDF or elsewhere. Is Canadian government denying ownership?]: National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls at https://www.mmiwg-ffada.ca/final-report/ (accessed 8 June 2021).

Barrera, Jorge. 2018. “The horrors of St. Anne’s.” CBC News posted March 29, 2018 at https://newsinteractives.cbc.ca/longform/st-anne-residential-school-opp-documents (accessed 2 June 2021).

British Columbia Museums Association. 2021. Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Justice    Indigenous Culture & HeritageSteps Museums and Museum Professionals Can Take to Make a Difference.” Latter resource at https://museum.bc.ca/steps-museums-and-museum-professionals-can-take-to-make-a-difference/ (accessed 2 June 2021).

Bryce, Peter Henderson. 1907. Report on the Indian schools of Manitoba and the North-West Territories (Ottawa, 1907; a copy with background material is available at LAC, RG 10, vol.4037, file 317021) at https://openhistoryseminar.com/canadianhistory/chapter/document-1-bryce-1907/ [other related reports in response also are available].

Canadian Museums Association. 2020. Strategic Plan. Ottawa: Canadian Museums Association at https://museums.ca/uploaded/web/New_Website_docs/2020_CMA_Strategic_Plan.pdf (accessed 8 June 2021).

CBC Radio. 2021. “The Current for June 2, 2021” [interviews by Matt Galloway with Murray Sinclair & Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond on TRC & Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre] at https://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-june-2-2021-1.6049839 (accessed 6 June 2021).

CBC Radio One Unreserved. 2020. “Pushed out and silenced: How one doctor was punished for speaking out about residential schools” 13:29 min. Last Updated: April 17, 2020 at https://www.cbc.ca/radio/unreserved/exploring-the-past-finding-connections-in-little-known-indigenous-history-1.5531914/pushed-out-and-silenced-how-one-doctor-was-punished-for-speaking-out-about-residential-schools-1.5534953 (accessed 8 June 2021).

Carleton, Sean. 2018. “Chanie Wenjack and the Histories of Residential Schooling We Remember.” Active History: History Matters blog posted October 23, 2018 2 Comments http://activehistory.ca/2018/10/chanie-wenjack-and-the-histories-of-residential-schooling-we-remember/ (accessed 2 June 2021).

Casimir, Rosanne. 2021. “Vancouver memorial growing to honour 215 children buried at residential school site.” Victoria News, The Canadian Press, posted May 29, 2021 8:41 a.m. at https://www.vicnews.com/news/it-was-devastating-chief-recalls-after-remains-of-215-children-found-in-b-c/ (accessed 3 June 2021).

[UPDATE 5 JULY 2021] Cullingham, James. 2021. “Now ain’t the time for your tears.” Active History posted June 28, 2021 at http://activehistory.ca/2021/06/now-aint-the-time-for-your-tears/ (accessed 3 July 2021).

Downie, Gord. 2016 “Secret Path” https://secretpath.ca/ (accessed 8 June 2021). The Secret Path tells the true story of Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year-old boy who died while trying to escape from a residential school and travel back home to his family over 400 miles away. Watch the animated film, a series of shorts on the subject, and the memorable live concert from 2016, right here. https://gem.cbc.ca/category/the-secret-path/featured-all/9b3ea985-cccf-45a8-9c87-8745cbcba48f (accessed 7 June 2021.).

Dunn, Willie. 2021. “Creation Never Sleeps, Creation Never Dies: The Willie Dunn Anthology.” Light In The Attic LITA 164 https://lightintheattic.net/releases/7411-creation-never-sleeps-creation-never-dies-the-willie-dunn-anthology (accessed 8 June 2021).

Dunn, Willie. 1972. “Charlie Wenjack” 3:04 min. Original song & lyrics on Willie Dunn LP by Kot’Ai Records produced by Akwesasne Notes White Roots of Peace, Mohawk Nation, via Rooseveltown, NY, USA at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogDB10Ox2Ro (accessed 8 June 2021).

Godlewska, Anne, Moore, Jackie, & Bednasek, C. Drew. 2017. “Cultivating ignorance of Aboriginal realities.” Canadian Geographer / Le Géographe canadien 54(4):417 – 440 First published: 15 May 2017 at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/229866253_Cultivating_ignorance_of_Aboriginal_realities (accessed 8 June 2021).

Gonzales, Elena. 2019. Exhibitions for Social Justice. London & New York: Routledge https://www.routledge.com/Exhibitions-for-Social-Justice/Gonzales/p/book/9781138292598 (accessed 6 June 2021).

Hamilton, Alvin C. & Sinclair, C. Murray. 1999. Report of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry of Manitoba Aboriginal Justice Implementation Commission, November 1999 Volume II: The Death of Helen Betty Osborne. Winnipeg: Aboriginal Justice Inquiry of Manitoba at http://www.ajic.mb.ca/volumell/toc.html (accessed 6 June 2021).

Jarvis, Anne. 2021. “Rows of children’s shoes make up moving memorial.” Windsor Star published May 31, 2021 https://windsorstar.com/news/local-news/rows-of-childrens-shoes-make-up-moving-memorial (accessed 3 June 2021).

Jewell, Eva & Mosby, Ian. 2020. “SPECIAL REPORT: Calls to Action Accountability: A 2020 Status Update on Reconciliation.” Yellowhead Institute, Ryerson University, Toronto at https://yellowheadinstitute.org/trc/?mc_cid=b22392890d&mc_eid=6e9d5c1350 (accessed 4 June 2021).

Johnson, Rhiannon. 2020. “Ottawa has spent $3.2M fighting St. Anne’s residential school survivors in court since 2013.” CBC News Last Updated: November 20, 2020 at https://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/ottawa-st-anne-residential-school-court-costs-1.5809846 (accessed 2 June 2021).

Kidd, Joelle. 2020. “‘So that nothing like this ever happens again’: Residential schools, system declared historic.” Anglican Journal posted September 10, 2020 at https://www.anglicanjournal.com/so-that-nothing-like-this-ever-happens-again-residential-schools-system-declared-historic/ (accessed 5 July 2021).

Kendi, Ibram X. 2019. How to Be an Antiracist. Random House Publishing Group [time-limited free audio book at https://www.audible.ca/pd/How-to-Be-an-Antiracist-Audiobook/1984832212?source_code=GDGGB127072020003F&ipRedirectOverride=true&gclsrc=aw.ds&&gclid=32d06c17927c1e4e92880cd74818cb64&gclsrc=3p.ds&msclkid=32d06c17927c1e4e92880cd74818cb64&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Bing_Audible_Search_Book%20Titles%20-%20Top%2050_Generic_NA_EN_All&utm_term=How%20to%20Be%20an%20Antiracist%20book&utm_content=How%20to%20Be%20an%20Antiracist%20(Unabridged)%20-%20Exact (accessed 9 June 2021).

Lott, Laura. 2019. “From the President and CEO: Less is More.” Museum (American Alliance of Museums) Vol. 94 (6): 5.

Lux, Maureen K. 2018. “BRYCE, PETER HENDERSON.” Dictionary of Canadian Biography. http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/bryce_peter_henderson_16E.html (accessed 8 June 2021).

Manitoba Historical Society. 2020. “Memorable Manitobans: Helen Betty Osborne (1952-1971) Murder victim.” Page revised: 7 February 2020 at http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/people/osborne_hb.shtml & also see Helen Betty’s memorial at the Guy Hill Residential School historic site at http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/sites/helenbettyosborne.shtml   (accessed 6 June 2021).

Milloy, John S. 2017 [original 1999]. A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System, 1879 to 1986. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press.

Ontario Museum Association. 2021. “ONmuseum Your Source for Ontario Museum News & Updates” at https://mailchi.mp/museumsontario/onmuseums-listen-learn-act?e=cd09375e50 & also see “Indigenous Culture & Reconciliation” page at https://members.museumsontario.ca/resources/tools-for-museum-practice/indigenous  (accessed 4 June 2021).

Pacheco, Debbie. 2021. “In Defence of Stuff.” CBC Radio One broadcast 15 February 2021 located at https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-in_defence_of_stuff-in-defence-of-stuff  (accessed 15 February 2020).

[UPDATE 5 JULY 2021] Pearce, Thomas. “If we had only known… whistle blowers, Florence Nightingale, and residential schools.” Active History posted February 10, 2020 at https://activehistory.ca/2020/02/if-only-we-had-only-known-whistle-blowers-florence-nightingale-and-residential-schools/ (accessed 3 July 2021).

Platt, Brian. 2021. “Trudeau cabinet abstains from vote on NDP motion to drop ‘hypocritical’ court fights against Indigenous people.” National Post posted 8 August 2021 at https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/canada/trudeau-cabinet-abstains-from-vote-on-ndp-motion-to-drop-hypocritical-court-fights-against-indigenous-people/ar-AAKNCMn?ocid=mailsignout&li=AAggNb9 (accessed 10 June 2021).

Purdue, Olwen. 2018. “Controversial Public History.” Royal Historical Society Blog posted Jan 9, 2018 at https://blog.royalhistsoc.org/2018/01/09/controversial-public-history/ (accessed 7 June 2021).

Renyolds, Christopher. 2021. “Singh demands Trudeau drop legal battle against First Nations children, survivors.” The Canadian Press updated 6 June 2021 at https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/canada/singh-demands-trudeau-drop-legal-battle-against-first-nations-children-survivors/ar-AAKFx3o?ocid=mailsignout&li=AAggNb9 (accessed 6 June 2021).

Stefanovich, Olivia. 2020. “NDP MP calls on Lametti to preserve St. Anne’s residential school abuse documents.” · CBC News Last Updated: December 14, 2020 at https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/st-anne-documents-angus-lametti-letter-1.5839805 (accessed 10 June 2021).

Sandri, Emma. 2021. “Discovery of 215 Indigenous graves had ‘profound emotional impact’ on Canadians, survey finds.” National Post posted 10 June 2021 10:50 p.m. at https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/canada/discovery-of-215-indigenous-graves-had-profound-emotional-impact-on-canadians-survey-finds/ar-AAKTRXN?ocid=mailsignout&li=AAggNb9 (accessed 10 June 2021).

Thistle, Paul C. 2021. “Adaptive Re-Use of a Heritage Building for Museum Purposes.” Critical Museology Miscellanea posted 10 May 2021 that introduces the Thistle (2017) resource below https://miscellaneousmuseology.wordpress.com/2021/05/10/adaptive-re-use-of-a-heritage-building-for-museum-purposes/ (accessed 10 June 2021).

Thistle, Paul C. 2020a. “Can Museums Do More than ‘Deplore’ Police Knees on Black Necks?Critical Museology Miscellanea blog posted on 16 June 2020 at https://miscellaneousmuseology.wordpress.com/2020/06/16/can-museums-do-more-than-deplore-police-knees-on-black-necks/ (accessed 8 June 2021). [This post analyses the role of Canadian museum’s in addressing racism in our communities & outlines a critique of systemic racist practices in Canadian museums. Also, included are resource sections: Rules for Museum Racism Remediation, Examples of Best Practices, Hopeful Future Projection, & References Cited.]

Thistle, Paul C. 2020b. “Insight on a Mid-20th Century Indian Residential & Day School Teacher’s Career.” Saskatchewan River Region Indian-European Trade Relations blog posted June 24, 2020 at https://indianeuropeantraderelations.wordpress.com/2020/06/24/insight-on-a-mid-20th-century-indian-residential-day-school-teachers-career/ (accessed 10 June 2021).

Thistle, Paul C. 2017. “Adaptive Re-Use Project to House The Sam Waller Museum, 1984 – 1991.” [Narrated PowerPoint presentation offered in absentia at The Sam Waller Museum, The Pas, MB, 1 July. It provides significant details on a very complex $1.7 million capital project to move the Museum into a Manitoba provincially designated historic site that was acknowledged as ‘one of the best’ such heritage site developments by conservation professionals. I successfully renovated the structure into a professional museum standard facility. View this hour-long narrated PowerPoint presentation by clicking on Slide Show / From Beginning tabs at 2017 at https://miscellaneousmuseology.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/adaptive-re-use-project-for-the-sam-waller-museum-narration-2.pptx (accessed 25 May 2021).

Thistle, Paul C. 1984. “Exhibit Review: Metis, Glenbow Museum.” The Canadian Journal of Native Studies 4(2):367-72 http://iportal.usask.ca/action.php?sid=481810237&url=http://www3.brandonu.ca/cjns/4.2/Exhibition_rev.pdf&action=go&id=352 (accessed 2 June 2021).

Thistle, Paul C. 1981. “Sam Waller: Teacher & Lay Missionary Among the Cree & Ojibwa of Northern Ontario & Manitoba, 1923-1958.” Unpublished research paper based on the Sam Waller fonds archival materials in the collection of The Sam Waller Museum prepared for Professor D. Bruce Sealey in a University of Manitoba Cross-Cultural Education B.Ed. programme course  at https://indianeuropeantraderelations.files.wordpress.com/2020/06/sam-waller-teacher-lay-missionary-1923-1958-by-thistle-1981.pdf .

Toronto Star staff. 2021. “Murray Sinclair’s statement on the remains of children found in Kamloops.” Toronto Star Tue., June 1, 2021 at https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2021/06/01/murray-sinclairs-statement-on-the-remains-of-children-found-in-kamloops.html (accessed 6 June 2021).

Truth & Reconciliation Commission. 2015. Canada’s Residential Schools: Missing Children and Unmarked Burials: Th­e Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Volume 4. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press at https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwj54oO2lYbxAhXqYt8KHXpSAs4QFjALegQIExAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.trc.ca%2Fassets%2Fpdf%2FVolume_4_Missing_Children_English_Web.pdf&usg=AOvVaw0_Q4M7TpsJv_PemcPlKiEI (accessed 7 June 2021).

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. 2012. Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action. Winnipeg: TRC https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwiJ__fL1vbtAhVsElkFHacPDVoQFjAMegQICBAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Ftrc.ca%2Fassets%2Fpdf%2FCalls_to_Action_English2.pdf&usg=AOvVaw2_EJMGS7jahubdjsDfqMUl (accessed 30 December 2020).

Vitali, Vanda. 2021. “Statement from the Canadian Museums Association Following the Discovery of the Remains of 215 Indigenous Children at Site of BC Residential School” Ottawa Canadian Museums Association, May 31, 2021 at https://museums.ca/site/aboutthecma/newsandannouncements/may312021?language=en_CA& (accessed 6 June 2021).

Wells, Nick. 2021. “Identifying children’s remains at B.C. residential school stalled by lack of records.” Cp24.com The Canadian Press published Thursday, June 3, 2021 5:50 AM EDT at https://www.cp24.com/news/identifying-children-s-remains-at-b-c-residential-school-stalled-by-lack-of-records-1.5454305 (accessed 12 June 2021).  

Witness Blanket. 2019. “Witness Blanket: A National Monument to recognize the atrocities of Indian Residential Schools.” Victoria, BC at  http://witnessblanket.ca/#!/project/ (accessed 15 February 2021).

Woodland Cultural Centre. 2021. “Save the Evidence.” Brantford, ON: Woodland Cultural Centre at https://woodlandculturalcentre.ca/the-campaign/  accessed 15 June. 2021).

Slide Shows:

Guy Hill Indian Residential School, 1983:

  • interor view of a room in the residential school
  • tricycle in long grass
  • abandoned hockey rink
  • Clearwater Lake from Guy Hill
  • Clearwater Lake beach at Guy Hill

Sam Waller’s Photos Taken at St. Thomas Mission, Moose Factory, 1923-1930

  • St. Thomas mission building
  • Moose Factory taken from the roof of the church
  • spring breakup at Moose Factory
  • Anglican church at Moose Factory
  • students at St. Thomas Mission Residential School
  • students
  • Students at play
  • boys at play
  • parental visits to the school
  • first nations women
  • women with cradleboard & young children
  • chapel in St. Thomas Mission
  • classroom
  • portrait of Sam Waller
  • Some of Sam Waller's souvenirs from Moose Factory.

Metis Leader Louis Riel’s Artifacts Related to His Hanging, 1885

  • Louis Riel's handcuffs
  • Louis Riel's handcuffs
  • Louis Riel's moccasin and tuque worn at his hanging
  • exhibit of a fragment of the 'rope that hanged Riel'

Kwantlen First Nation Exhibit at LCM

UPDATE # I ON 17 JUNE 2021: I unreservedly apologise for a using a hurtful comparative term in my original post title here because I failed to consider the victims of that term as a result of the many lives devastated by it in the past.  I have edited this post due to a communication received: 

“Paul, I would very much prefer  “. . . . .” for example. I think addressing this terrible wrong by applying vocabulary from another wrong suggests a blindness to victims who have been slaughtered by ‘. . . . .’  in the not so distant past, and arguably as we speak, in my opinion Caroline”

UPDATE # II ON 17 JUNE 2021: Another incoming comment is as follows with my responses [in line]:

Residential school exhibits have the potential to trigger and cause additional ongoing trauma and harm to Indigenous audiences who may visit museums. [I acknowledge this in the following with reference in my “CAUTION: TRC on its Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line (1-866-925-4419) that is available 24 hours a day . . . “]

Any exhibits like this need to be developed thoughtfully and respectfully and involve survivor groups. [I acknowledge this up front in my recommendations by emphasising Indigenous leadership in such exhibit projects.]
Making museum exhibitions may not be the priority of Indigenous Nations or survivor groups. [I have heard at least one survivor comment that the very tough process of giving survivors’ testimony before the TRC was undertaken so that succeeding generations of Indigenous & other children would not have to go through the same traumas. Otherwise, another survivor has identified the need for “. . . a reminder that this should never happen again to people, regardless of their race” (Kidd 2020)].

There are many other ways for this information to be shared and many existing resources out there. [In my view, museums need to operate with a focus on their ‘core business’ of interpreting heritage through the medium of exhibitions.]
I am not saying settlers like myself should ignore this history and the implications carried into the present.

There are plenty of revisions of text/interpretation that can be done in every exhibit that can speak truth about stolen land and genocidal attempts, part of which includes residential schools. In this day and age all museum texts and content should be reviewed by many eyes, including your museum’s Indigenous Advisory Committee. [I completely agree. However, simply fixing existing label copy will not replace the need for museum practitioners to provide the expertise to survivors to create exhibits on IRS as was carried out with the Kwantlen First Nation at the Langley Centennial Museum & National Exhibition Centre case outlined below.]

With best wishes, Laura

For the record your blogger, Paul C. Thistle, is a descendant of white settlers in southwestern Ontario, Canada that is located in the traditional territory of ‎the Attiwonderonk (Neutral), Anishinabewaki ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯᐗᑭ, and Haudenosaunee peoples (www.native-land.ca/ ).

I am tremendously blessed to have been raised and retired here due to the generosity of Indigenous peoples who share their homelands with me. I believe that a reconcili-ACTION response from white settlers in Canada remains pathetically long overdue.

QUESTION: Does any museum have the St. Anne’s Residential School electric chair(s)? See below.

Introduction:

First of all, kudos to Laura Peers & the Ontario Museum Association (OMA) listserv who brought to our attention the British Columbia Museum Association’s (2021) response to the unrecorded graves of 215 children recently discovered at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, Canada. The OMA followed up the next day with addition crucial background materials (Ontario Museum Association 2021).

Of course, It must be noted here that this story is nothing new to Indigenous peoples. It should not be ‘news’ to Canadians in June 2021 either. Indigenous residential school survivor’s testimonies, cries of anguish, & proofs provided in all too many studies have typically been ignored. Ever since i) 1999, one of the 100 most important Canadian books ever written” (according to the editors of Canada’s preeminent review of books, The Literary Review of Canada) A National Crime by John S. Milloy (2017 original 1999), ii) the widely circulated Truth & Reconciliation Commission’s (2012) Calls to Action in which the term “residential school” occurs 48 times among its 94 Calls, & iii) especially the TRC’s 2015 publication of the report Canada’s Residential Schools: Missing Children and Unmarked Burials have been ‘in the public domain.’ All the attention to the evils of Indigenous residential schools in early June 2021 is welcome but, colonially, characteristically rather belated in Canada.

[UPDATE # III ON 5 JULY 2015] It happens that other important publications detailing the conditions in & outcomes from residential schools for Indigenous children have been available for at least 158 years as outlined in the following:

In 1863, Florence Nightingale – best known as the founder of modern nursing – published a statistical report [titled Sanitary Statistics] on the health of Indigenous students in day and boarding schools across the British Empire. . . [Nightingale wrote,]

The Indian schools in Canada afford a total annual death rate of 12 ½ per 1,000 for both sexes; but the mortality of girls is nearly double that of boys. . . the mortality of native children at school as double that of English children of the same ages (Pearce 2020).

Subsequently, James Cullingham (2021) in “Now ain’t the time for your tears” identifies other widely published reports on residential schools not mentioned above, including:

In 1996 The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples led by co-chairs Georges Erasmus, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations and Justice René Dussault tabled a comprehensive investigation on many issues including the history, impact and legacy of residential schools. [Cullingham concludes,]

It is disingenuous at best for any reasonably educated Canadian to excuse her or his self with the ‘I didn’t know’ refrain in regards to residential schools. Like the architects of Canadian “Indian” policy from the late 19th and early 20th centuries too many of us were prepared to see Indigenous people as marginal and their negative experiences as regrettable, but inevitable collateral damage on the path to Canadian civilization, economic development and expansion (Cullingham 2021).

Of course, Canada’s news feeds change rapidly & 6 days after the discovery of 215 unknown & unmarked children’s graves at the Kamloops Residential School broke, a murderous racist attack on a Muslim family in London, ON now has replaced the rapt attention on residential schools. It is obvious to this observer that no one in Canada can claim we are not a demonstrably racist society or that there is ‘no systemic racism’ here in the past & up until today. Witness the residential school system & the live-streamed racist treatment of Atikamekw woman Joyce Echaquan in a Quebec hospital.

What I believe necessary in Canada is some ‘directed culture change’ (an anthropological term meaning the use of power by one group to dominate another through interference with traditional cultures & forcefully modifying cultural characteristics (e.g. beating children to stop them using their traditional languages in residential schools) that will have to be different from the government & church version of it. Could Canadian schools, universities, & museums deliberately teach change in the culture of racism? We really have no other choice but to engage.

In the first week of June 2021, quite apparently we need to work rather hard—as hard as residential schools did to destroy Indigenous languages for example—at changing the culture of hate that has been & is is still being directed toward difference in this county.

In fact, if Canada is to solve its racism problem, we must become a deliberately “anti-racist” society following the approach of American University professor Ibram X. Kendi (2019). He describes how anti-racist individual actions and systemic (i.e. policy) changes can be made. Also see your blogger’s related post “Can Museums Do More than ‘Deplore’ Police Knees on Black Necks?” (Thistle 2020a) linked below in the References Cited.

Longer ago, when your blogger was teaching high school Native Studies in The Pas, MB 1975-1978, I was using Ian Adams’ 1967 article “The Lonely Death of Charlie Wenjack” that had occurred as a result of his attempted winter escape from a Kenora, ON residential school. I had found it in the widely read Maclean’s magazine—at its peak with 2.3 million Canadian readers weekly—as well as mixed descent Mi’kmaq singer-songwriter Willie Dunn’s (1972) “Charlie Wenjack” song found below during classes dealing with residential schools. Thus, public information on the truth about residential schools has been ‘out there’ in Canada for a minimum of 44 years now. Additional clear information on the terrible damage being done to Indigenous residential school students has been publicly available for at least 114 years now as explained below.

BCMASteps Museums and Museum Professionals Can Take”:

The above named BCMA (2021) communication puts forward many recommendations on how museums can take effective actions to address the widespread concerns raised in recent extensive media accounts of grief & outrage upon the detection of 215 child unrecorded & unmarked graves at the Kamloops Residential School. Murray Sinclair, Commissioner of the TRC, that had requested—but was denied—additional federal funding to carry out further investigation beyond TRC’s best ‘guestimate’ made at the time of 3,200 Indigenous child deaths at residential schools, states that there are likely to be many, many more such execrable examples on other school grounds yet to be discovered (Toronto Star staff 2021). With the limited resources available to it, the TRC did produce a study anyway from the evidence available (Truth & Reconciliation Commission 2015).

graph showing Indigenous students death rates
TRC Illustrations Volume Figure 2 at https://nctr.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/AAAA-Hamilton-Report-Illustrations-final.pdf . Remember; the records are seriously incomplete.

From BCMA’s introduction that justly & properly identifies the need for action by museums that has to sprout from ‘sympathies’:

This tragic news is an undeniable reminder of the violent genocide of Indigenous peoples and cultures upon which the nation known as Canada was founded. On a human level, it is difficult to comprehend the loss and suffering experienced by the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation and to the many Nations whose children were also stolen and sent to Kamloops Indian Residential School, or, to quote the words of a survivor, “the evil place.” We extend our sympathies to all Indigenous peoples for whom this news brings up deeply traumatic memories. For settlers, confronting our colonial legacy and making meaningful steps towards truth and reconciliation can feel like an impossible task compared to the enormity of pain we have caused.

. . . time for [ . . . action]. . . There are tangible, concrete steps that museums and museum professionals can take today that can make a difference.

If you are offended, saddened, or enraged by Thursday’s [1 June 2021] news and want to do your part, here are things you can do to take action. . . (BCMA 2021) [emphasis added].

Very significantly, this expression of sympathy for & solidarity with survivors of residential school also contains a listing of 3 practical categories of resources under ACTIONS FOR INDIVIDUALS including read the TRC http://www.trc.ca/  [perhaps starting with the 94 Calls to Action (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada 2012)] & 4 categories of resources under ACTIONS FOR INSTITUTIONS (British Columbia Museums Association 2021).

What—if anything—Might be Added Here?

May I suggest that, more than ‘reading TRC reports’, reconcili-ACTION by museums be carried out in conjunction with the BCMA’s recommended “Incorporate Reconciliation into Your Organizational Practices” [to which I would add the term Policies] is now an inescapable requirement. “Museums and museum professionals have the responsibility of helping to shape how Canadians view our shared histories. We cannot avoid discussing difficult topics” (British Columbia Museums Association 2021) [emphasis added].

Canadian Museums Association (CMA) Executive Director, Vanda Vitali (2021), agrees:

Through their lives, their suffering and in their death, these children leave a legacy that must never be forgotten. . .

As a community committed to preserving and interpreting the past so that present and future generations may learn from it, the museums community has a special role and responsibility to preserving and telling the story of these children and their communities. . .

Together, we hope to make museums safe spaces where all can come to learn, to share, to grieve and to support one another as we learn and acknowledge our painful past, our imperfect present and work toward Reconciliation and a better future for all”[emphasis added].

Due to my own early personal & later academic interest in Indigenous histories & cultures, I have attended to the first news of the unrecorded & unmarked child grave discoveries at the Kamloops Residential School. In years past & especially in the past week, I now have accumulated 76 bookmarks on the topic. In the course of my research, I was touched—& rather surprised—to note the Canadian public’s responses to leave memorials composed of children’s shoes on the steps of the responsible denominations’ churches (Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, United . . .) & at least some instances of such commemorations left on art gallery steps (Jarvis 2021; Casimir 2021).

Personal Aside:

These memorials reminded me of one residential school site I had visited in 1983 upon my return to The Pas, MB to take charge of the Sam Waller Little Northern Museum. Having taught high school Native Studies in The Pas from 1975 to 1978, I was aware of the local residential school, Guy Indian School (a.k.a. Guy Hill) [formerly at Sturgeon Landing, SK] that, while I taught in The Pas, was still being operated by the federal Department of Indian Affairs using staff associated with the Roman Catholic Church (National Centre for Truth & Reconciliation [2021]).

In October 1983, after the school had been closed in 1979, I went to the Guy Hill School site at Clearwater Lake, located 40 km northeast of The Pas, & photographed the site. Among the artifacts I saw on the School grounds were an abandoned child’s shoe & a tricycle. Unless otherwise indicated, all photographs in this post were taken by the author.

abandoned trycycle in long grass
Tricycle at the Guy Hill Indian School, October 1983. Sadly, the author seems to have mislaid my 35 mm colour slide of the single forlorn shoe I also found in the grass. See other views of this site in the first slide shown at the end of this blog under References Cited list.

 I have no information that any unrecorded burials of students are present at the Guy Indian School (Clearwater). However, the National Centre for Truth & Reconciliation ([2021]) names 3 students under the Guy Hill School’s web page section “Remembering the Following Students.”

I am informed only about one of them, Helen Betty Osborne, who, intending to go into a teaching career, had left Guy Hill to attend high school in The Pas. As now should be known as an all too common occurrence after the publication of The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (Audette, et al. 2019), 18-year-old Helen Betty Osborne was abducted from a street in The Pas by non-Indigenous men, sexually assaulted, beaten, & murdered at Clearwater Lake, MB on 13 November 1971.

This (at one time unsolved) case was one of 2 infamous murders of Indigenous people that, in 1988, gave rise to the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry of Manitoba (AJI) led by the later TRC Commissioner Chief Judge Murray Sinclair. The AJI’s Volume II: The Death of Helen Betty Osborne investigated her murder in depth, inter alia identifying “. . . racism, neglect and indifference, on the part of the citizens of the town, the police and of the Attorney General’s department” (Hamilton & Sinclair 1999: “Introduction” section). Also see the memorial to Helen Betty Osborne at the now empty Guy Hill Residential School site (Manitoba Historical Society 2020).

memorial to Helen Betty Osborne at the Guy Hill Indian Residential School historic site
Manitoba Historical Society photo of memorial to Helen Betty Osborne at the now empty Guy Hill Indian Residential School historic site. See author’s photos of the Guy Hill School site as it appeared in 1983 at the very bottom of this post under the References Cited list.

This brings me to what I very strongly believe should also be added to the BCMA recommendations. Since museums are in the business of “serving society,” when the residential school matters ‘iron’ is now so very ‘hot’ in Canada, museum practitioners need to ‘blacksmith’ these circumstances by striking many firm blows to put ‘reconciliation’ with residential school multi-generational survivors into ACTION.

Under the direction of survivors willing to participate, Museum collections need to be mobilised to create exhibits revealing residential schools history. In addition, museums—many of which possess archival collections too—have ethical obligations to make their collections of records accessible to the citizen victims of residential school abuse that may be evidenced in museum artifacts and/or associated data (Wells 2021).

In my personal work experience, many small museums operate as archives & possess important holdings of archival materials as well as artifacts. For example, the Sam Waller Little Northern Museum (now The Sam Waller Museum in The Pas) holds the diaries of its founder Sam Waller written while he was teaching at the Anglican St. Thomas Mission’s residential & day schools between 1923 & 1930 in Moose Factory, James Bay, ON (see Thistle 2020b; Thistle 1981).

One of Sam Waller’s diaries written at the Anglican St. Thomas Mission, 1923-1930. See other images of this mission taken by Mr. Waller in a slide show at the very end of this post under the References Cited. The TRC Illustrations Volume shows others under a different name.

These institutions and their staff members often also belong to professional archival organisations. May I recommend that we take the purpose of archives to preserve & make accessible records of enduring value to use our memberships in these organisations and their statements of ethics to lobby for free & open access. In some cases, we will need to pass resolutions at archival professional organisation AGMs to censure professional archives organisations’ religious order member institutions that hold records on residential schools, but deny access to these crucial records for residential school survivors and/or researchers (Johnson 2020; Platt 2021; Wells 2021). Isn’t providing access to our institutions’ holdings a crucial characteristic for a proper professionally & ethically run archive? In short, custodial institutions have ethical obligations to make their collections accessible to the citizen victims of abuse that may be evidenced in artifacts such as ‘electric chairs’ and/or associated records.

While on this subject, I ask readers to consider the Woodland Cultural Center’s “Save the Evidence Campaign.” This $23.5 million project in the adaptive-reuse of a former residential school heritage building in Brantford, ON intends to:

. . . raise awareness and support for the restoration of the former Mohawk Institute Residential School [1828-1970], and to develop the building into an Interpreted Historic Site and Educational Resource. As a site of conscience, the final goal is to create a fully-realized Interpretive Centre that will be the definitive destination for information about the history of Residential Schools in Canada, the experiences of Survivors of the schools, and the impact that the Residential School system has had on our communities. (Woodland Cultural Centre 2021) [emphasis added].

[As an aside here, see a detailed outline of the successful adaptive re-use of a heritage building for museum purposes in Thistle (2017) & Thistle (2021).]

We know that museums do hold & exhibit troubling artifacts on Indigenous history like the ‘rope that hanged Riel’ as well as his handcuffs, his moccasin & tuque worn by Metis leader Louis Riel to be ‘hung by the neck until dead’ in November 1885  (Thistle 1984: 368).

exhibit of a fragment of the 'rope that hanged Riel'
Leading vitrine in the Glenbow-Alberta Institute Museum’s Metis exhibition during its 1985 commemoration of the 1885 Metis Resistance. Stay tuned for many more illustrations of this exhibition to accompany the author’s review (Thistle 1984) in an upcoming post here. The other Riel artifacts named above appear in a slide show at the very end of this post.

This was the outcome of Canada’s racist colonial project to override Metis rights as British citizens in Manitoba & 18 years later as Canadian citizens in Saskatchewan. From the fact of Riel’s rope display, I jump immediately to a question: Does any museum hold the electric chair(s) used on Indigenous students at the St. Anne’s Residential School (Barrera 2018) or any other instruments of torture from these schools?

CAUTION HERE: The descriptions beyond the electric chair reports in Barrera’s extensive article based on Ontario Provincial Police case files are even more disturbing. These atrocious facts may cause unwanted distress among readers. In this light, resources to help residential school survivors have been made accessible by TRC on its Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line (1-866-925-4419) that is available 24 hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of his or her residential school experience. Other similar resources are linked in the BCMA (2021) “Steps Museums and Museum Professionals Can Take” web page & in Vitali (2021).

CBC reporter Jorge Barrera’s 2018 extremely disquieting investigative piece “The horrors of St. Anne’s” residential school (located in Fort Albany, ON near James Bay) states:

. . . former students of St. Anne’s describe experiencing physical, psychological and sexual abuse while at the school. . . . [&] claimed the school used an electric chair “for punishment and sport” in the book Up Ghost River. The electric chair was claimed to have been used between the mid-1950s and mid-1960s according to police testimony.[6] [emphasis added)]

Do such artifacts exist in museum collections & need to be on public display in order to provide some “remedial education” for white settlers in Canada (Godlewska et al. 2017) on Indigenous residential school history to Canadians? How might museums use such artifacts and others in their collections that relate to residential schools? If not in our museum institutions’ primary means of communication to the public—exhibitions—how else?

Need for Exhibits on Residential Schools:

The British Columbia Museums Association (2021) resource web page mentions museum collections only in 2 contexts: i) human remains [although not using that term] & ii) local governments “that house Indigenous ancestors or cultural property.” Exhibitions are mentioned only once in a rather critical sense: “Exhibits, programs, and information that overlook colonial violence or try to “tell both sides” of residential school experiences only perpetuate this violence and bring us further from truth and further from reconciliation.”

In this observer’s view however, much sooner than later, museum practitioners need to engage Indigenous people & let them take the lead in helping museum practitioners to participate in reconcili-ACTION by covering Canada with exhibits that interpret the true history & ongoing negative inter-generational outcomes of Canada’s colonialist-purposed residential schools.

Museums now have the “responsibility” “to honestly and openly confront our nation’s violent colonial legacy” (British Columbia Museums Association 2021; cf. Vitali 2021). I maintain this enjoinder imposes the need for museums & museum practitioners to cooperate with interested Indigenous partners to mine museum & other collections for residential school artifacts and/or to undertake deliberate collecting on this subject. See Olwen Purdue’s (2018) “Controversial Public History” for a clear justification for tackling controversial subjects such as residential schools & the existence of their electric chairs. Gonzales (2019) book Exhibitions for Social Justice gives advice on ‘how to.’

Why don’t museums that hold relevant artifacts & related records not create travelling exhibitions on residential schools that would be appropriately sized to fit into the temporary exhibit spaces available in ‘small’ museums across this country? In the United States, ‘small museum’ figures given by American Alliance of Museums show a surprising “59 percent of our member museums have zero to three full-time staff . . .” (Lott 2019: 5). In Canada, the proportion of small museums is likely the same given that the CMA has targetted “small organizations” in its current Strategic plan (Canadian Museums Association 2020: 2, 3, 5).

For the proper scale of such exhibits for small museums, 2 of my former small institutions that had temporary exhibit spaces, The Sam Waller Museum in The Pas, MB & the Langley Centennial Museum & National Exhibition Centre (LCM) in Fort Langley, BC have from 680 to ≅ 900 square feet available for the purpose. At the latter museum we used the space to partner closely with the Kwantlen First Nation to host an exhibit outlining local Indigenous traditional life, their colonial history including accounts from Kwantlen residential school survivors, & modern revitalisation. This exhibition was then requested for display at the nearby Fort Langley National Historic Site during the British Columbia sequicentennial celebrations  in 2018 to be its second venue.

testimonies of Kwantlen First Nation residential school survivors
Testimonies of Kwantlen First Nation residential school survivors in its exhibit “The River is Us” at LCM. Related images are show at the end of this post under References Cited. section

From my own experience seeking temporary exhibits for these relatively small spaces, I know that, much too often, desirable travelling exhibits on offer were too large or heavy (thus requiring loading docks not existing on-site) that made those small museums ineligible to host them. Please develop residential school exhibits to be placed in as many small museums as possible so we can cover the country with them! Those institutions without such on-site galleries might be able to find appropriate donated spaces for this and/or even smaller spaces. In the late 1950s & 1960s, The Sam Waller Museum’s founder regularly set up his collections at yearly festival venues, other events, & even made use of store windows in The Pas for such displays. After his death, this practice was continued, although not for such a serious purpose as Indian residential school legacies.

Ready-made art installations such as “The Witness Blanket” (2019; cf. Pacheo 2021) are an excellent start. The ‘blanket’ mullti-media work of art includes artifacts collected from residential schools including children’s shoes & it has appeared at smaller museums (Michelin 2019). Wouldn’t an exhibit with some more residential school children’s shoes paralleling the exhibits of both young & adult shoes at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial & Museum http://auschwitz.org/en/gallery/exhibits/evidence-of-crimes,1.html [search for the term “shoes” on that page accessed 4 June 2021] be impactful on the subject of residential schools for our visitors?

Could Canadian museums not stimulate a like ‘gut response’ to a residential school shoe exhibit even with fewer footwear artifacts? I firmly believe that museum collection objects have more of an emotional impact on visitors than an intellectual one. “The Witness Blanket” artist mixed descent Kwakwak’awakw Carey Newman (Ha-yalth-kingeme) has spoken about an Indigenous perspective on exhibits in an interesting CBC Radio One programme, “In Defence of Stuff” (Pacheo 2021; also see Witness Blanket 2021).

Non-Indigenous Canadians need museum resources to support their ‘remedial education’ about Indigenous history! See Godlewska et al. (2017). Because one of the first actions of the current Ontario government when it took office was to cancel the working group that had been engaged for some time in the creation of new Indigenous curricula for schools, in Ontario & elsewhere, schools now will desperately need resources to teach young Canadians more about residential schools. Two hundred and fifteen (215) Indigenous children have left us a “legacy” & Canada also has a “violent colonial legacy”—both of which museums MUST preserve & interpret in the service of society (cf. Vitali 2021; British Columbia Museums Association 2021).

Beyond this, I personally have felt ‘gut punched’  by the Canadian federal government’s egregiously shameful & unjustifiable ongoing court actions—spending $2.3 million tax payers’ dollars (Johnson 2020)—against survivors of the St. Anne’s Residential School attempts to gain access to the school records necessary to properly present their cases (Reynolds 2021; Stefanovich 2020; Angus 2020).

Note that in recent days a unanimous—but only due to the shameful abstentions of all Liberal Trudeau government cabinet members—a non-binding resolution to drop the Canadian government’s court case opposing St. Anne’s Residential School survivors’ access the records was passed in Parliament (Platt 2021). Museums & their human—& ‘humane’—resources have important public education roles in circumstances such as the discovery of 215 unrecorded & unmarked graves of Indigenous residential school students that, according to Hon. Murray Sinclair, very likely will be only the “tip of the iceberg” (CBC Radio 2021).

Here again, I want to stress that attention to residential school colonialism in Canada had been raised to a high level in 2015 with the publication of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, but progress on the TRC’s 94 Calls to Action has stalled & attention to these matters now has faded away since Truth & Reconciliation Commission report received significant media attention 6 years ago (Jewel & Mosby 2020). The Yellowhead Institute’s  “SPECIAL REPORT: Calls to Action Accountability: A 2020 Status Update on Reconciliation” concludes:

Ultimately, we find that Canada is failing residential school Survivors and their families. . . [Among 4 other main causes, this is due to] . . . Deep rooted paternalistic attitudes of politicians, bureaucrats, and other policy makers (Jewel & Mosby 2020).

Indigenous voices on the negative outcomes caused by residential schools all too often have been intentionally disregarded by Canadians & their governments for over 150 years now. This intentional discounting of Indigenous truths is the first of the reasons for Canada’s failures identified in Jewel & Mosby (2020) . . . if not racism—the ideation & the resulting systemic structure in Canada. We often have to ‘read it and weep’ about Indigenous history in Canada, the Americas & around the world.

Here, I challenge readers to ‘listen & weep’ about the deliberate Canadian government & church discounting of a doctor’s 1907 damning report on the very damaging impacts of residential schools on the health of their Indigenous students & the complete failure of the religious groups operating & Canada’s government funding of the schools to carry out their fiduciary responsibilities for their charges who were often forcibly removed from their families & communities (CBC Radio One Unreserved 2020).

Detail of Kent Monkman's painting "The Scream"
Detail of mixed descent Cree artist Kent Monkman’s 2017 painting “The Scream.”  See analysis from McGill University at https://www.mcgill.ca/dise/research/facultyresearchprojects/zhigwe-monkman-scream (accessed 11 June 2021).

In an interview on CBC Radio One’s Unreserved programme segment “Pushed out and silenced: How one doctor was punished for speaking out about residential schools.” Cindy Blackstock, OC FRSC, a Canadian-born Gitxsan activist for child welfare, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, & also a professor for the School of Social Work at McGill University has brought this to light again after it was first known from Milloy (2017 original 1999) reiterates:

While reading A National Crime by historian John Milloy, Blackstock came across the work of Dr. Peter Henderson Bryce. That’s when she thought to herself, “That’s the example. There’s the person who was of that time [1907], who knew better, who stood up for these kids and did everything in his power to make sure that they wouldn’t die” (CBC Radio One Unreserved 2021).

From his Dictionary of Canadian Biography entry (Lux 2018), Dr. Bryce was commissioned to visit 35 industrial and residential schools on the prairies to report on health conditions. The damning 1907 Bryce report described terrible living conditions for the students. He cited poor sanitation and ventilation in the schools and infections including significant levels of TB among the undernourished children. He reported, “We have created a situation so dangerous to health . . .” & Bryce wrote further, “Of the 1,537 students with records, nearly 25 per cent were dead” (Bryce 1907). “In the Report’s recommendations, which were never made public, Bryce directly blamed the government for the appalling conditions. . .[&] especially criticized its inadequate per-capita funding, which forced the churches to enrol more students and feed them less (Lux 2018).

This report was never acted upon by the Canadian Government. It was characterised by a residential school cleric principal as “new fangled” and declared that he [Bryce] “shouldn’t expect palaces for children.” A like government official’s response said the report was “scientific … [but] quite inapplicable to the system under which these schools are conducted” (Lux 2018). The report was shelved & Dr. Bryce was drummed out of the civil service. He then continued to publicly advocate to improve student health in residential schools, so at least some Canadians would have read about residential school conditions in newspaper articles of the day (CBC Radio One Unreserved 2021; Lux 2018).  

Another example of how Indigenous voices on residential schools have been overlooked in Canada up to the present day relates to Gord Downie’s (2016) Secret Path, a multimedia project (album, graphic novel, and animated film [as well as a charitable foundation]) on Chanie [formerly known as Charlie] Wenjack’s death by freezing after running away from a residential school in Kenora, ON. When Downie’s commendable effort is mentioned, I always strive to let people know that Gord Downie was not the first musician to present the terrible story of  Chanie Wenjack. Forty-four years before Secret Path was released, the ballad “Charlie Wenjack) by Willie Dunn (1972) was released.

I was reading Akwesasne Notes in the early 1970s & had purchased Willie Dunn’s album advertised in this hard-hitting Indigenous newspaper. Dunn’s self-titled LP put out by White Roots of Peace, Mohawk Nation, & published by Akwesasne Notes remains one of my most prized treasures. Many of his songs like “I Pity the Country” still can bring me tears. The Dunn estate now has put this & Mr. Dunn’s other music out again. In my view, this will be a strong support to “reconcile-ACTION!” (Dunn 2021).

When the Downie project was ‘all the rage’ in 2016 & the song & topic were on heavy rotation, I had e-mailed CBC Radio One to remind them about Willie Dunn’s song “Charlie Wenjack” but I never heard any plays of Mr. Dunn’s original song at that time. See my comment on the important Active History blog post “Chanie Wenjack and the Histories of Residential Schooling We Remember” by Sean Carleton (2018). I firmly recommend that readers here listen to Willie Dunn’s “Charlie Wenjack”at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogDB10Ox2Ro (accessed 4 June 2016). The ads can be skipped after the first one. The entire song apparently is not found on-line, so the following lyrics to follow have been completed from the LP cover:

Chorus: Walk on, little Charlie / Walk on through the snow

Moving down the railway line / Trying to make it home

And he’s made it forty miles / Six hundred left to go

It’s a long old lonesome journey / Shuffling through the snow

Lonely as a single star in the skies above

His father in a mining camp, his mother in the ground

And he’s looking for his dad / And he’s looking up for love

Just a lost little boy by the railroad track / Moving homeward bound

He’s a-gettin’ mighty hungry / It’s been a time since last he’s ate

And as the night grows colder / He wonders of his fate

For his legs are wracked with pain / As he staggers through the night

As he sees through his troubled eyes / His hands are turning white

Is that the great Wendigo / come to look upon my face

And are the stars exploding / down the misty aisles of space

Who’s that coming down the track / walking up to me

With her arms outstretched and waiting / waiting just for me.

 

As I have attempted to outline above, Willie Dunn’s music remains relevant to this minute & going forward.

Conclusion:

I ask again, is there some museum out there that has the St. Anne’s Residential School electric chair(s) in its storage vault—or knows where it might be located?

If so, it needs to be on public display somewhere in Canada in the service of Canadian white settler society self-awareness as well as to expose Canada’s colonial inter-generational impact on our Indigenous brothers & sisters citizens.

In the current circumstances where the Indian residential school issue iron is so hot, I firmly believe that museums must now attempt to strike many blows with exhibits to blacksmith true reconcili-ACTION for the Indigenous inter-generational survivors. Let’s see how well heritage preservation & interpretation institutions can carpet the entire country with small travelling exhibits with HUGE potential for emotional & intellectual impact on all Canadians.

A recent survey indicates that we have work to do with the Canadian public (Sandri 2021).

I reiterate: Museums now have the “responsibility” “to honestly and openly confront our nation’s violent colonial legacy” (British Columbia Museums Association 2021; cf. Vitali 2021).

Thanks for reading this far & thinking about this.

References Cited: [Update :  Apologies for not originally saving my links below to open in a new window as they do now, 13 June 2021.]

Adams, Ian. 1967. “The Lonely Death of Charlie Wenjack” Maclean’s, 80 (February 1967), 30-32, 43-44.

Angus, Charlie. 2020. [Hansard] “Charlie Angus on Criminal Code In the House of Commons on December 9th, 2020. openparliament.ca at https://openparliament.ca/debates/2020/12/9/charlie-angus-3/only/ (accessed 10 June 2021).

Audette, Michèle et al. 2019. Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. [Ottawa? Place of publication not provided in PDF or elsewhere. Is Canadian government denying ownership?]: National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls at https://www.mmiwg-ffada.ca/final-report/ (accessed 8 June 2021).

Barrera, Jorge. 2018. “The horrors of St. Anne’s.” CBC News posted March 29, 2018 at https://newsinteractives.cbc.ca/longform/st-anne-residential-school-opp-documents (accessed 2 June 2021).

British Columbia Museums Association. 2021. Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Justice    Indigenous Culture & HeritageSteps Museums and Museum Professionals Can Take to Make a Difference.” Latter resource at https://museum.bc.ca/steps-museums-and-museum-professionals-can-take-to-make-a-difference/ (accessed 2 June 2021).

Bryce, Peter Henderson. 1907. Report on the Indian schools of Manitoba and the North-West Territories (Ottawa, 1907; a copy with background material is available at LAC, RG 10, vol.4037, file 317021) at https://openhistoryseminar.com/canadianhistory/chapter/document-1-bryce-1907/ [other related reports in response also are available].

Canadian Museums Association. 2020. Strategic Plan. Ottawa: Canadian Museums Association at https://museums.ca/uploaded/web/New_Website_docs/2020_CMA_Strategic_Plan.pdf (accessed 8 June 2021).

CBC Radio. 2021. “The Current for June 2, 2021” [interviews by Matt Galloway with Murray Sinclair & Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond on TRC & Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre] at https://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-june-2-2021-1.6049839 (accessed 6 June 2021).

CBC Radio One Unreserved. 2020. “Pushed out and silenced: How one doctor was punished for speaking out about residential schools” 13:29 min. Last Updated: April 17, 2020 at https://www.cbc.ca/radio/unreserved/exploring-the-past-finding-connections-in-little-known-indigenous-history-1.5531914/pushed-out-and-silenced-how-one-doctor-was-punished-for-speaking-out-about-residential-schools-1.5534953 (accessed 8 June 2021).

Carleton, Sean. 2018. “Chanie Wenjack and the Histories of Residential Schooling We Remember.” Active History: History Matters blog posted October 23, 2018 2 Comments http://activehistory.ca/2018/10/chanie-wenjack-and-the-histories-of-residential-schooling-we-remember/ (accessed 2 June 2021).

Casimir, Rosanne. 2021. “Vancouver memorial growing to honour 215 children buried at residential school site.” Victoria News, The Canadian Press, posted May 29, 2021 8:41 a.m. at https://www.vicnews.com/news/it-was-devastating-chief-recalls-after-remains-of-215-children-found-in-b-c/ (accessed 3 June 2021).

[UPDATE 5 JULY 2021] Cullingham, James. 2021. “Now ain’t the time for your tears.” Active History posted June 28, 2021 at http://activehistory.ca/2021/06/now-aint-the-time-for-your-tears/ (accessed 3 July 2021).

Downie, Gord. 2016 “Secret Path” https://secretpath.ca/ (accessed 8 June 2021). The Secret Path tells the true story of Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year-old boy who died while trying to escape from a residential school and travel back home to his family over 400 miles away. Watch the animated film, a series of shorts on the subject, and the memorable live concert from 2016, right here. https://gem.cbc.ca/category/the-secret-path/featured-all/9b3ea985-cccf-45a8-9c87-8745cbcba48f (accessed 7 June 2021.).

Dunn, Willie. 2021. “Creation Never Sleeps, Creation Never Dies: The Willie Dunn Anthology.” Light In The Attic LITA 164 https://lightintheattic.net/releases/7411-creation-never-sleeps-creation-never-dies-the-willie-dunn-anthology (accessed 8 June 2021).

Dunn, Willie. 1972. “Charlie Wenjack” 3:04 min. Original song & lyrics on Willie Dunn LP by Kot’Ai Records produced by Akwesasne Notes White Roots of Peace, Mohawk Nation, via Rooseveltown, NY, USA at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogDB10Ox2Ro (accessed 8 June 2021).

Godlewska, Anne, Moore, Jackie, & Bednasek, C. Drew. 2017. “Cultivating ignorance of Aboriginal realities.” Canadian Geographer / Le Géographe canadien 54(4):417 – 440 First published: 15 May 2017 at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/229866253_Cultivating_ignorance_of_Aboriginal_realities (accessed 8 June 2021).

Gonzales, Elena. 2019. Exhibitions for Social Justice. London & New York: Routledge https://www.routledge.com/Exhibitions-for-Social-Justice/Gonzales/p/book/9781138292598 (accessed 6 June 2021).

Hamilton, Alvin C. & Sinclair, C. Murray. 1999. Report of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry of Manitoba Aboriginal Justice Implementation Commission, November 1999 Volume II: The Death of Helen Betty Osborne. Winnipeg: Aboriginal Justice Inquiry of Manitoba at http://www.ajic.mb.ca/volumell/toc.html (accessed 6 June 2021).

Jarvis, Anne. 2021. “Rows of children’s shoes make up moving memorial.” Windsor Star published May 31, 2021 https://windsorstar.com/news/local-news/rows-of-childrens-shoes-make-up-moving-memorial (accessed 3 June 2021).

Jewell, Eva & Mosby, Ian. 2020. “SPECIAL REPORT: Calls to Action Accountability: A 2020 Status Update on Reconciliation.” Yellowhead Institute, Ryerson University, Toronto at https://yellowheadinstitute.org/trc/?mc_cid=b22392890d&mc_eid=6e9d5c1350 (accessed 4 June 2021).

Johnson, Rhiannon. 2020. “Ottawa has spent $3.2M fighting St. Anne’s residential school survivors in court since 2013.” CBC News Last Updated: November 20, 2020 at https://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/ottawa-st-anne-residential-school-court-costs-1.5809846 (accessed 2 June 2021).

Kidd, Joelle. 2020. “‘So that nothing like this ever happens again’: Residential schools, system declared historic.” Anglican Journal posted September 10, 2020 at https://www.anglicanjournal.com/so-that-nothing-like-this-ever-happens-again-residential-schools-system-declared-historic/ (accessed 5 July 2021).

Kendi, Ibram X. 2019. How to Be an Antiracist. Random House Publishing Group [time-limited free audio book at https://www.audible.ca/pd/How-to-Be-an-Antiracist-Audiobook/1984832212?source_code=GDGGB127072020003F&ipRedirectOverride=true&gclsrc=aw.ds&&gclid=32d06c17927c1e4e92880cd74818cb64&gclsrc=3p.ds&msclkid=32d06c17927c1e4e92880cd74818cb64&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Bing_Audible_Search_Book%20Titles%20-%20Top%2050_Generic_NA_EN_All&utm_term=How%20to%20Be%20an%20Antiracist%20book&utm_content=How%20to%20Be%20an%20Antiracist%20(Unabridged)%20-%20Exact (accessed 9 June 2021).

Lott, Laura. 2019. “From the President and CEO: Less is More.” Museum (American Alliance of Museums) Vol. 94 (6): 5.

Lux, Maureen K. 2018. “BRYCE, PETER HENDERSON.” Dictionary of Canadian Biography. http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/bryce_peter_henderson_16E.html (accessed 8 June 2021).

Manitoba Historical Society. 2020. “Memorable Manitobans: Helen Betty Osborne (1952-1971) Murder victim.” Page revised: 7 February 2020 at http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/people/osborne_hb.shtml & also see Helen Betty’s memorial at the Guy Hill Residential School historic site at http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/sites/helenbettyosborne.shtml   (accessed 6 June 2021).

Milloy, John S. 2017 [original 1999]. A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System, 1879 to 1986. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press.

Ontario Museum Association. 2021. “ONmuseum Your Source for Ontario Museum News & Updates” at https://mailchi.mp/museumsontario/onmuseums-listen-learn-act?e=cd09375e50 & also see “Indigenous Culture & Reconciliation” page at https://members.museumsontario.ca/resources/tools-for-museum-practice/indigenous  (accessed 4 June 2021).

Pacheco, Debbie. 2021. “In Defence of Stuff.” CBC Radio One broadcast 15 February 2021 located at https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-in_defence_of_stuff-in-defence-of-stuff  (accessed 15 February 2020).

[UPDATE 5 JULY 2021] Pearce, Thomas. “If we had only known… whistle blowers, Florence Nightingale, and residential schools.” Active History posted February 10, 2020 at https://activehistory.ca/2020/02/if-only-we-had-only-known-whistle-blowers-florence-nightingale-and-residential-schools/ (accessed 3 July 2021).

Platt, Brian. 2021. “Trudeau cabinet abstains from vote on NDP motion to drop ‘hypocritical’ court fights against Indigenous people.” National Post posted 8 August 2021 at https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/canada/trudeau-cabinet-abstains-from-vote-on-ndp-motion-to-drop-hypocritical-court-fights-against-indigenous-people/ar-AAKNCMn?ocid=mailsignout&li=AAggNb9 (accessed 10 June 2021).

Purdue, Olwen. 2018. “Controversial Public History.” Royal Historical Society Blog posted Jan 9, 2018 at https://blog.royalhistsoc.org/2018/01/09/controversial-public-history/ (accessed 7 June 2021).

Renyolds, Christopher. 2021. “Singh demands Trudeau drop legal battle against First Nations children, survivors.” The Canadian Press updated 6 June 2021 at https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/canada/singh-demands-trudeau-drop-legal-battle-against-first-nations-children-survivors/ar-AAKFx3o?ocid=mailsignout&li=AAggNb9 (accessed 6 June 2021).

Stefanovich, Olivia. 2020. “NDP MP calls on Lametti to preserve St. Anne’s residential school abuse documents.” · CBC News Last Updated: December 14, 2020 at https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/st-anne-documents-angus-lametti-letter-1.5839805 (accessed 10 June 2021).

Sandri, Emma. 2021. “Discovery of 215 Indigenous graves had ‘profound emotional impact’ on Canadians, survey finds.” National Post posted 10 June 2021 10:50 p.m. at https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/canada/discovery-of-215-indigenous-graves-had-profound-emotional-impact-on-canadians-survey-finds/ar-AAKTRXN?ocid=mailsignout&li=AAggNb9 (accessed 10 June 2021).

Thistle, Paul C. 2021. “Adaptive Re-Use of a Heritage Building for Museum Purposes.” Critical Museology Miscellanea posted 10 May 2021 that introduces the Thistle (2017) resource below https://miscellaneousmuseology.wordpress.com/2021/05/10/adaptive-re-use-of-a-heritage-building-for-museum-purposes/ (accessed 10 June 2021).

Thistle, Paul C. 2020a. “Can Museums Do More than ‘Deplore’ Police Knees on Black Necks?Critical Museology Miscellanea blog posted on 16 June 2020 at https://miscellaneousmuseology.wordpress.com/2020/06/16/can-museums-do-more-than-deplore-police-knees-on-black-necks/ (accessed 8 June 2021). [This post analyses the role of Canadian museum’s in addressing racism in our communities & outlines a critique of systemic racist practices in Canadian museums. Also, included are resource sections: Rules for Museum Racism Remediation, Examples of Best Practices, Hopeful Future Projection, & References Cited.]

Thistle, Paul C. 2020b. “Insight on a Mid-20th Century Indian Residential & Day School Teacher’s Career.” Saskatchewan River Region Indian-European Trade Relations blog posted June 24, 2020 at https://indianeuropeantraderelations.wordpress.com/2020/06/24/insight-on-a-mid-20th-century-indian-residential-day-school-teachers-career/ (accessed 10 June 2021).

Thistle, Paul C. 2017. “Adaptive Re-Use Project to House The Sam Waller Museum, 1984 – 1991.” [Narrated PowerPoint presentation offered in absentia at The Sam Waller Museum, The Pas, MB, 1 July. It provides significant details on a very complex $1.7 million capital project to move the Museum into a Manitoba provincially designated historic site that was acknowledged as ‘one of the best’ such heritage site developments by conservation professionals. I successfully renovated the structure into a professional museum standard facility. View this hour-long narrated PowerPoint presentation by clicking on Slide Show / From Beginning tabs at 2017 at https://miscellaneousmuseology.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/adaptive-re-use-project-for-the-sam-waller-museum-narration-2.pptx (accessed 25 May 2021).

Thistle, Paul C. 1984. “Exhibit Review: Metis, Glenbow Museum.” The Canadian Journal of Native Studies 4(2):367-72 http://iportal.usask.ca/action.php?sid=481810237&url=http://www3.brandonu.ca/cjns/4.2/Exhibition_rev.pdf&action=go&id=352 (accessed 2 June 2021).

Thistle, Paul C. 1981. “Sam Waller: Teacher & Lay Missionary Among the Cree & Ojibwa of Northern Ontario & Manitoba, 1923-1958.” Unpublished research paper based on the Sam Waller fonds archival materials in the collection of The Sam Waller Museum prepared for Professor D. Bruce Sealey in a University of Manitoba Cross-Cultural Education B.Ed. programme course  at https://indianeuropeantraderelations.files.wordpress.com/2020/06/sam-waller-teacher-lay-missionary-1923-1958-by-thistle-1981.pdf .

Toronto Star staff. 2021. “Murray Sinclair’s statement on the remains of children found in Kamloops.” Toronto Star Tue., June 1, 2021 at https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2021/06/01/murray-sinclairs-statement-on-the-remains-of-children-found-in-kamloops.html (accessed 6 June 2021).

Truth & Reconciliation Commission. 2015. Canada’s Residential Schools: Missing Children and Unmarked Burials: Th­e Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Volume 4. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press at https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwj54oO2lYbxAhXqYt8KHXpSAs4QFjALegQIExAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.trc.ca%2Fassets%2Fpdf%2FVolume_4_Missing_Children_English_Web.pdf&usg=AOvVaw0_Q4M7TpsJv_PemcPlKiEI (accessed 7 June 2021).

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. 2012. Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action. Winnipeg: TRC https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwiJ__fL1vbtAhVsElkFHacPDVoQFjAMegQICBAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Ftrc.ca%2Fassets%2Fpdf%2FCalls_to_Action_English2.pdf&usg=AOvVaw2_EJMGS7jahubdjsDfqMUl (accessed 30 December 2020).

Vitali, Vanda. 2021. “Statement from the Canadian Museums Association Following the Discovery of the Remains of 215 Indigenous Children at Site of BC Residential School” Ottawa Canadian Museums Association, May 31, 2021 at https://museums.ca/site/aboutthecma/newsandannouncements/may312021?language=en_CA& (accessed 6 June 2021).

Wells, Nick. 2021. “Identifying children’s remains at B.C. residential school stalled by lack of records.” Cp24.com The Canadian Press published Thursday, June 3, 2021 5:50 AM EDT at https://www.cp24.com/news/identifying-children-s-remains-at-b-c-residential-school-stalled-by-lack-of-records-1.5454305 (accessed 12 June 2021).  

Witness Blanket. 2019. “Witness Blanket: A National Monument to recognize the atrocities of Indian Residential Schools.” Victoria, BC at  http://witnessblanket.ca/#!/project/ (accessed 15 February 2021).

Woodland Cultural Centre. 2021. “Save the Evidence.” Brantford, ON: Woodland Cultural Centre at https://woodlandculturalcentre.ca/the-campaign/  accessed 15 June. 2021).

Slide Shows:

Guy Hill Indian Residential School, 1983:

  • interor view of a room in the residential school
  • tricycle in long grass
  • abandoned hockey rink
  • Clearwater Lake from Guy Hill
  • Clearwater Lake beach at Guy Hill

Sam Waller’s Photos Taken at St. Thomas Mission, Moose Factory, 1923-1930

  • St. Thomas mission building
  • Moose Factory taken from the roof of the church
  • spring breakup at Moose Factory
  • Anglican church at Moose Factory
  • students at St. Thomas Mission Residential School
  • students
  • Students at play
  • boys at play
  • parental visits to the school
  • first nations women
  • women with cradleboard & young children
  • chapel in St. Thomas Mission
  • classroom
  • portrait of Sam Waller
  • Some of Sam Waller's souvenirs from Moose Factory.

Metis Leader Louis Riel’s Artifacts Related to His Hanging, 1885

  • Louis Riel's handcuffs
  • Louis Riel's handcuffs
  • Louis Riel's moccasin and tuque worn at his hanging
  • exhibit of a fragment of the 'rope that hanged Riel'

Kwantlen First Nation Exhibit at LCM

  • entrance to the Kwantlen exhibit
  • young Kwantlen members carrying cedar boughs to purify the spaceleading attendees in
  • Young Kwantlen children leading attendees out
  • Kwantlen First Nation traditional cedar root coiled baskets
  • Kwantlen traditional medicine plants
  • Kwantlen people sustained life by fishing
  • entrance to colonial history section
  • wall to create a narrow passage in the exhibit
  • testimonies of Kwantlen First Nation residential school survivors
  • photos from St. Mary's Residential School
  • Kwantlen carved ,masks