Residential school resistance narratives: Video project

- Tara Sharpe

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) regional event in Victoria Apr. 13-14 included the premiere of seven videos produced by seven young Indigenous researchers for the UVic Centre for Youth and Society (CFYS)’s project, “Resistance Narratives: Strategies and Significance for Indigenous Youth.” Using digital storytelling, the youth identified and celebrated strategies of resistance that enabled family and community members to survive the Indian Residential Schools of Vancouver Island.The Island was the site of several schools—Ahousat, Alberni IRS, Christie (Clayquot, Kakawis), Kuper Island, Alert Bay Girls' Home and the Alert Bay Boys' Home.

There is more than a legacy of surviving these schools. Resistance to the school system took many forms and continues today. CFYS Director Dr. Anne Marshall says "these stories of hope and healing are a key part of addressing the ongoing impacts of the residential school system that have affected thousands of individuals, families and communities."

“This project has ignited a fire that shows in each digital story,” points out project coordinator Asma Antoine, Toquaht Band, Nuu-chah-nulth. Antoine is a recent graduate of the UVic Aboriginal Communities Counselling program offered through the Department of Educational Psychology and Leadership Studies. “The passion of resistance that validates survival and resiliency of First Nations people and communities provides hope for healing and reconciliation over the next generations.”

The TRC, established in 2008 with a five-year mandate, was a requirement of the largest class action settlement of its kind in Canada—the 2007 Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement—negotiated on behalf of former students, the Assembly of First Nations, other Aboriginal organizations, churches and the federal government.

The seven videos (listed below) were shown April 12 at First Peoples House and also at the TRC regional event at the Victoria Conference Centre on April 14.

Digital Stories: Resistance Narratives

  • She Is Loved – Amanda Poitras, Mikisew Cree
  • Qwam Qwam – Shayli Robinson, Lyackson/Leey’qsum First Nation
  • Healing Heroes – Lindsay Delaronde, Kahnawake, Mohawk Nation
  • Stories of our Grandmothers – Rita Merrick, Pasqua First Nation
  • Remembering the Children – Richard Spearman, Algonquin Nation
  • Cultural Revitalization of Sts’ailes Community School – Alexandra Kent
  • Resistance from Coast to Coast – Asma Antoine, Toquaht Band, Nuu-chah-nulth

This project was funded by the commission. 

Videos now on YouTube

In this story

Keywords: Reconciliation Commission of Canada, youth, Indigenous


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