Survivor-led repatriation project on display at UVic Libraries


In 2008, 59 paintings created by Cree, Dene, and Anishinaabe children who attended the MacKay Indian Residential School in Dauphin, Manitoba in 1960 were gifted to the University of Victoria’s Legacy Art Galleries. The paintings were part of a larger donation of children’s artwork by the family of artist Robert Aller on his passing. Aller volunteered as an art teacher for a short few years at the residential school in the early 1960s. These banners tell part of the story of a Survivor-led repatriation project that took place between 2019-2022 between Survivors who are part of the non-profit society, MacKay Residential Schools Group Inc. (MRSGI), with members of the University of Victoria’s Department of Anthropology and Legacy Art Galleries.

MRSGI Survivors worked with UVIC faculty, staff, and students, as well as the Museum of Manitoba, University College of the North, and the Keewatin Tribal Council to locate Survivors who created the paintings, or their families; their goal in the project was to facilitate the return of the artworks. At the end of the project 19 paintings were returned to 12 Survivors. The banners share a few of these paintings alongside words of those people whose artworks were returned to them and their families. Paintings that the partners were unable to reconnect with Survivors or their families during this project are presently cared for in Sacred Storage at the Manitoba Museum. The MRSGI members oversee their care with the museum until such time that family connections can be made and the paintings returned.


The repatriation project was funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Partnership Engage Grant held by the MRSGI membership, Dr. Andrea Walsh (Anthropology), and Ms. Lorilee Wastasecoot (Indigenous Curator of Collections and Engagement, Legacy Art Galleries). Repatriation work was carried out in collaboration with Maureen Matthews at the Museum of Manitoba. Funding for the production of the banners was received through Canadian Heritage.

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