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L.A. Beat

Galt Museum exhibit tells colonial school survivors’ stories in their own words

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The National Day of Truth and Reconciliation Day was on Saturday, but that doesn’t mean you should only think about  the effects of colonial school systems on First Nations for just the one day a year.

Tyler Stewart shows the Kainai Children: Stories of Survival exhibit at the Galt Museum. Photo by Richard Amery

 Two new exhibits at the Galt Museum share the stories and experiences of  residential school survivors. The traveling exhibit “Escaping Residential Schools: Running for their Lives” is a national touring exhibition developed by Ontario organization the Legacy of Hope Foundation  over the past 20 years. It uses interactive audio and informational panels to tell the stories of seven  residential school survivors’ experience to deliver more national  perspective.


They tell the stories of their experiences  in their own words and as well as the experiences of several children who ran away from the schools, some of who perished and some of the politicians responsible for the schools.


  The local exhibit, Stolen Kainai Children: Stories of Survival, developed by University of Lethbridge sociology professor  Apooyak’ii/Dr. Tiffany Hind Bull-Prete brings the issue h right home to Southern Alberta,  breaking down the  six different types of colonial schools designed to   assimilate native children into the white world, of which residential schools were just one, and telling the stories of Southern Alberta survivors  who  went to different schools everywhere from Standoff to Calgary.

“ Her exhibit is more focussed on what happened to the Blood Tribe,” said curator Tyler Stewart, noting the last residential schools closed in the 1980s so the effects of them is still an important issue today.


“Dr. Hind Bull-Prete spent quite a few years working on this exhibit,” Stewart said, emphasizing  the exhibit shows there were more than just residential schools  in involved in the colonial school system each with their own way  ways of operating and each with their unique  effects, though residential schools get most of the attention.


“ The Blackfoot took back their education from the federal government  in the 1980s and formed their own school boards so they could teach  traditional  Blackfoot culture, history and language,” he said encouraging everybody with even a cursory interest in Southern Alberta  history needs to check out the exhibits, which run until March 3, 2024.


“ Truth and reconciliation needs to take place more than one day a year,” Stewart said.


“Museums have been institutions that participated in the processes of colonization,” Stewart explained in a press release.


“It’s important that we now take actions towards reconciliation by educating and raising awareness of the darker sides of Canadian history,” he said in a press release.


“ I hope people will take away the different voices of the colonial schools. The most important part of the exhibition is that the stories  are in the survivors’ own  words,” Stewart said.

— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

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