#thinkingthrough We Were So Far Away

Members of the research team at the exhibit, Nov. 27, 2015 (photo credit: Lauren Bosc).

Members of the research team at the exhibit, Nov. 27, 2015 (photo credit: Lauren Bosc).

Members of our research team visited the travelling exhibit “We Were So Far Away” on November 27, 2015 while it was displayed in the atrium of the United Way of Winnipeg (580 Main Street, Winnipeg MB). This exhibit, which features stories and photographs from eight Inuit residential school Survivors, was on display in Winnipeg from November 18-30. For more information on the exhibit, click here.

The exhibition title expresses so much with so little: We Were So Far Away – Inuit residential school students were so far away from family, so far away from their culture, so far away from hope. While Survivors’ voices are heard through the display of archival photographs alongside highlighted memories, I found it difficult to connect to the material in the chosen space (the United Way centre lobby on Main Street in Winnipeg). Ultimately, it was the accompanying exhibition book that allowed me to engage on a deeper level with the difficult and powerful stories shared in the exhibit. – Sylvia Dreaver (Dueck)

One of the things that struck me about the archival photographs of residential schools included in We Were So Far Away is that while the names of Monseigneurs, teachers and even some of the photographers appear with the original documentation, the students were often left nameless. Namelessness is itself evidence of how the students were treated as objects of regulation rather than subjects of their own experiences at the schools. The exhibit’s juxtaposition of these photos with current day profiles of survivors works to recover their agency in the face of such violent erasure.  Angela Failler

As I read the short descriptions of photographs shared by each Survivor, I was struck by one in particular that accompanied an image of a group of residential school children. Lillian Elias noted that although she thought she was one of the children in the photo, she did not recognize herself in any of the faces. For me, this comment resonated through the rest of the exhibit as the Survivors attempted to recognize themselves in the trauma of the IRS system. Lauren Bosc


Thinking through Inuit Art

Research team members view new Inuit art acquisitions in the WAG's art vault.

Research team members view new Inuit art acquisitions in the WAG’s art vault. (photo credit: Lauren Bosc)

On February 12, 2016, Thinking through the Museum team members participated in a workshop on Inuit art and curatorial practices at the University of Winnipeg and the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Go to Collecting and Displaying Inuit Art under the Workshops tab for more description and a photo gallery.


Winnipeg Exhibit Site Visits

In recognition of the recent release of the final report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Cultural Studies Research Group (CSRG), led by Dr. Angela Failler, is visiting a number of Winnipeg exhibitions related to truth and reconciliation. On November 27, 2015, the CSRG visited the “We Were So Far Away: The Inuit Experience of Residential Schools” exhibit presented by the Manitoba Inuit Association and the United Way. This visit was followed by a brief tour of the “Forgotten: The Métis Residential School Experience” exhibit presented by Aboriginal Student Support & Community Relations (Red River College) on December 4.

In the new year, the CSRG plans to visit the Mikinak-Keya Spirit Tour at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights (led by research assistant Sylvia Dreaver [Dueck]), the “We Are on Treaty Land” exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG), the TRC Exhibit and the Witness Blanket exhibit at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, as well as tour the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba.

As a part of these site visits, our group also uses Museum Ethnography Prompt Sheets to provide an open-ended structure to our visits.