Thursday, October 14, 2021


The last portion of this gallery in the Canadian History Hall explores a number of themes. The first of them is that of First Peoples. Where before Confederation, indigenous peoples had worked with British officials through negotiation, afterwards the policy became that of assimilation- wanted or not. This has led to difficulties we are still coming to terms with today.

The objective, in line with thinking of the day, was to absorb native peoples into the larger culture. The primary tool would be residential schools.

Even early on, the schools had critics in white society. The quote by a missionary involved in the program speaks volumes.

Doctor Peter Bryce, Chief Medical Officer for Indian Affairs, had his own objections and criticisms. All were ignored.

Over the course of a century plus, the damage was done. The last of the residential schools was closed in the 1990s. The lasting damage still resonates today; the discoveries this past year of graves on the properties of those former schools testifies to that. The Truth And Reconciliation Commission operated from 2009- 2015, headed by Murray Sinclair, himself of Indigenous heritage, a forum that made recommendations and provided a forum for survivors of the schools and other programs to tell their stories. Some of those survivors speak in archival footage from the commission, or directly to the camera, on a video display here.

This is one of two matching stained glass windows, with the other at Centre Block on Parliament Hill, presumably removed at present with the work going on at the building. Giniigganiimenaaning (Looking Ahead) is a 2013 stained glass by Metis artist Christi Belcourt.

A quote by Murray Sinclair speaks to what must be done.

This ceremonial headdress belongs to Phil Fontaine, former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, on loan to the Museum.

The Assembly has its roots going back to the 1940s, with post-war governmental policies shifting towards negotiation and decolonization, combined with grassroots activism among indigenous peoples leading to its foundation.


  1. Will we ever learn? It´s still the same. But glad we have teachers like you. No irony!

  2. Reconciliation is going to be a long process. Much redress is still due to First Nations and we owe them our support.

  3. Hello,
    The quote by Murray Sinclair is right on the mark.
    Take care, enjoy your day!

  4. Estou a acompanhar esta exposição com bastante interesse.
    Um abraço e continuação de uma boa semana.

    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa

  5. @Maywyn: indeed.

    @Iris: I think now we are.

    @David: there is much to do, but it's the right thing to do.

    @Eileen: he was quite right.

    @Francisco: thank you.

  6. The whole residential school thing was a disaster which will take years and years to recover from.
    Once again your comment didn't show up on my post but blogger shows it on my dashboard. Blogger seems to have so many quirks these days.

  7. This is a story we share with you. The Heard Museum here has a wonderful exhibit showing the troubling history of the Indian Schools.

  8. We have a long way to go on this issue. we keep finding more evidence of atrocities such as the unmarked graves this summer.

  9. We are suppose to learn from history.

  10. The stained glass window is gorgeous.

  11. Very interesting it's a pity that I couldn't read all texts, they were to small.

  12. Very sad! Samuel Blakes quotation says it all doesn't it?

  13. Assimilation is fine depending on the degree ~ think each population of people should be honored for their unique characteristics ~ Historically ~ assimilation seem to mean to wipe our ethnic origin ~ hope we are learning ~

    Living in the moment,

    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  14. Es bastante interesante, conocer la cultura de los pueblos indígenas, que fueron los que dieron origen a la población de esa tierra. para saber bien la historia de una nación hay que comenzar por sus raíces.

  15. @RedPat: hindsight speaks volumes.

    @Sharon: it was there too.

    @Red: there is much to do.

    @Nancy: how many do?

    @Bill: I think so.

    @Gattina: if I try reading them on my phone I'm not always able to.

    @Denise: it says a lot.

    @Carol: we need to learn.

    @Mirada: thank you.

  16. Residential schools are too our shame although I will admit that there were at least some good, but uninformed, intentions at play.

  17. It is unconscionable, what they did to those poor children. And it was going on here in the US as well. I hope it will never happen again.

  18. Assimilation has been a terrible ploy in your country and mine.

  19. Isn't it awful! I'm not sure we can reconcile, but I hope so.

  20. The stained glass window is spectacular.

  21. i enjoy the stain glass and the head dress. my Mom has told me of her local Indian folks who would dress up for their festival. sorry i don't recall which folks they were. laters. ( :

  22. Why does it have to be so hard for reconciliation to be realized? It seems a worldwide problem.

    1. Difficult problems are going to be hard, but they must be resolved.