SHI to sponsor lecture on Canada’s controversial residential school system

Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will sponsor a free lecture this month on Canada’s controversial residential school system, which was comprised of government-sponsored religious schools established to assimilate Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian culture.

Above: Cree students at their desks with their teacher in a classroom at All Saints Indian Residential School in Lac la Ronge, Saskatchewan, 1945. Courtesy of Government Library and Archives, a134110-v8chew.

In her talk, The Canadian Legacy of Indian Residential Schools: A Personal Narrative, Dr. Georgina Martin will discuss the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that was established by Canada’s federal government in 2008 to investigate the harms inflicted upon Indigenous people by the residential schools and their assimilation policies.

The TRC opened the door for residential school survivors to tell their stories and share their truth, Martin wrote.

“Reconciliation is meant to establish and maintain trusting relationships. I will provide a historical overview and where we are in the relationship.”

The residential school system officially operated from the 1880s into the closing decades of the 20th century.

The system forcibly separated children from their families for extended periods of time and forbade them to acknowledge their Indigenous heritage and culture or to speak their own languages, according to the University of British Columbia.

About the Lecturer

Martin is an Indigenous scholar and member of the Williams Lake First Nation in the interior of British Columbia. She centers Indigenous Knowledge in her teaching and research methodologies.

Her research centers on intergenerational trauma that emerged from Indian residential schools and Indian hospitals that left a trail of cumulative damage to language, culture, and identities. 

She draws from her lived experience to advance the reclamation of space for Indigenous peoples.

The lecture will be held at noon on Friday, Oct. 13, in-person at noon (Alaska time) at SHI’s Walter Soboleff Building in Juneau.

SHI will also livestream the series on its YouTube and save the talks on its channel immediately after.

Viewers are encouraged to pose questions in person and online.

Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska.

Its goal is to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events.

SHI also conducts social scientific and public policy research that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history, and education statewide.

The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars, a Native Artist Committee, and a Southeast Regional Language Committee.