“How I Survived”: An Exhibit on Recreation at Northern Residential Schools, Hostels, and Indian Day Schools

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Gwich'in Settlement Area, Sahtu Settlement Area, Dehcho Region, North Slave Region, South Slave Region, Qikiqtaaluk Region

Tags: social sciences, recreation, residential schools, public exhibit

Principal Investigator: Dunkin, Jessica (2)
Licence Number: 16927
Organization: NWT Recreation and Parks Association
Licensed Year(s): 2022 2021
Issued: Jan 11, 2022
Project Team: Crystal Fraser, Paul Andrew, Sharon Firth, Lorna Storr, Rae Braden, Sheena Tremblay

Objective(s): To create a travelling public exhibit, related website and resources, and academic publications on the entwined histories of recreation and residential schooling in the North.

Project Description: This licence has been issued for the scientific research application No.5116.

The research team will create a travelling public exhibit, related website and resources, and academic publications on the entwined histories of recreation and residential schooling in the North. The hope is that this project will encourage further public dialogue around residential schools in the North, using the lens of recreation. The team understand recreation to include a diverse range of social, physical, intellectual, and creative pursuits including, but not limited to music, the arts, sports, games, crafts, and Boy Scouts and Girl Guides. The objectives are: to share the stories of residential school survivors; to provide context for their experiences through related archival research; and to develop materials and resources that reflect and respect their diverse experiences of recreation while at residential school, hostels, and federal Indian day schools.

The content for the exhibit and the website, as well as for the related resources and academic publications, will primarily come from the interviews with residential school survivors. The research team will also be reviewing historical documents including photographs, reports, and yearbooks from residential schools, hostels, and Indian day schools across the territory. Together, the interviews and historical research will help the team to understand how recreation was a part of the residential school, hostel, and day school experience, and also the significance of recreation for residential school, hostel, and day school students.

If a survivor decides to participate in the project, an interviewer and a videographer will travel to their community to interview them. The interview will be approximately one hour long. The survivor will be provided with a list of possible interview questions ahead of time. The interviews will be recorded using a video camera and an audio recorder. The team will make a transcript of each interview. The interviewee will have an opportunity to edit the transcript of their interview. They will be given copies of the video and the final transcript to keep.

If the team decided to use quotations or clips from an interview in the exhibit, on the website, or in other project materials, the team will contact the interviewee first and make sure they are okay with the quotations/clips and how they will be used. If an interviewee allows the team to use a quotation/clip from their interview, but decides later they don’t want it to be used, the team will remove it from the exhibit materials and the website. The research team are aware and will communicate with the interviewees the limits of this provision, namely that once some of the materials are generated or printed, the team will not be able to completely eliminate their contributions from the public sphere.

As part of this project, the research team will be creating a travelling public exhibit. The team recognize that as they work with the advisory committee and the interviewees, the vision for what the exhibit looks like may change. However, at this time, the team anticipate that it will include panels and an interactive story box similar to those produced for the travelling version of the Special Constables exhibit, “We Took Care of Them.” When the exhibit is complete, members of the research team will travel to communities who are interested to share the exhibit with them.

The research team will also be creating a website that includes more information about what was learned during the interviews and historical research, and educational resources for teachers and parents who want to share the project with children and young people.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from January 7, 2021 to December 31, 2022.