Artful places: creativity and colonialism in British Columbia's Indian residential schools

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De Leeuw, Sarah
Post colonial geographies , Residential schools , First Nations and Aboriginal peoples , Place
Residential schools for Aboriginal children were a primary site of negotiations between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous subjects. These schools, and the records of peoples who occupied them, provide opportunities to better understand colonialism in British Columbia. Residential schools were places created to transform Aboriginal children, through assimilation, into a modernizing and colonial society. They are simultaneously places that offer access to Indigenous articulations of self and Indigeneity, expressions of resistance, and exertions of agency. Cultural products created by children in residential schools, particularly creative art products, allow us to visualize and understand Indigenous response to and evasions of colonial education. When taken together with Aboriginal peoples’ testimonies about the residential school experience, and with colonial records of the schools’ intents, children’s creative materials and expressions allow some access to the complex places that constituted the cultural geography of colonialism in British Columbia.
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