A permanent exhibition project I have been working on since 2012 is finally coming into fruition. The first part of the Reclaiming Shingwauk Hall exhibition will open on August 3, 2018 and is dedicated to the generations of Survivors who attended Indian Residential Schools across the country.
Reclaiming Shingwauk Hall was developed and led by the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre. It has been a Survivor-driven reclamation of the former Shingwauk Indian Residential School and is a Healing and Reconciliation through Education initiative. It will be housed on the third floor of Shingwauk Hall, a former residential school building that is now houses Algoma University.
This opening of August 3rd will include three distinct gallery spaces:
We are all Children of Shingwauk Gallery: This space witnesses the comings and goings of hundreds of Indigenous children from communities near and far. It features photos and stories of some of the earliest students of the Shingwauk school in its industrial phases, contemporary portraits and testimonies of Survivors, and ‘selfies’ of current Algoma and Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig students. Here, visitors will see how entire families were connected to the Shingwauk site and learn about the remarkable ongoing healing work that has taken place.
Life at the Shingwauk Home: an Indian Residential School Gallery: This gallery illustrates how a scattering of modest buildings on 90.5 acres of land acquired in 1874 for ‘Indian Education’ became an ever-expanding industrial school complex and home to hundreds of Indigenous children. It charts the Shingwauk and Wawanosh Schools’ transition from industrial to residential school through photographs, offering a glimpse of the day-to-day existence of children over the years of the schools’ operation.
From Teaching Wigwam to Residential School Gallery: This final gallery recounts the story of Chief Shingwauk and his vision to create ‘Teaching Wigwams’ as a means of sustaining Anishinaabe self-determination. This historical gallery, which begins in the late 1700s, traces the history of the first iterations of the teaching wigwam through the absorption of the Shingwauk Home into the Canada-wide Indian Residential School System.
I am tremendously happy to see this project come together and humbled to be a part of such inspiring and important work.