Lake of the Woods Museum – Reformatting of Bakaan nake’ii ngii-izhi-gakinoo’amaagoomin (We Were Taught Differently): The Indian Residential School Experience

This project involved the reformatting of the exhibit Bakaan nake ‘ii ngii-izhi-gakinoo’amaagoomin: We Were Taught Differently: The Indian Residential School Experience.  The reformatting involved taking the content of the exhibit which was developed in 2008 and converting it into a more travel-friendly format.

The original exhibit was presented in a variety of media, including individual hard-mounted photographs for wall mounts, hinged free-standing panels, panels in bases, hanging panels, and large wall mounted panels.  All the panels were made of a composite material which, while durable, was very heavy and easily scuffed and not suitable for the frequent travel that this exhibit has ended up seeing.

The reformatting converted the exhibit to retractable banner stands that are lighter, compact and less likely to suffer damage in transit and set-up.  The intent is to make this exhibit as accessible to as many organizations, communities and schools that can accommodate it.

In hosting the exhibit, the Museum has witnessed, particularly in programming that was developed in conjunction with the exhibit, the process that individuals are going through as part of their personal healing process.  When this exhibit was first presented in Kenora, there were some who felt that it might do more damage than good in terms of relationship building.  Those fears were allayed when people began to talk openly with each other about the schools and their impact on our local population and the continued impact it has on First Nations communities.

The story of the residential school experience is one that all Canadians need to understand.  We see the impact of that system on First Nations communities and populations and on many individuals who either attended the schools or are the offspring of those who did.  We know that this impact is a national phenomenon.  This exhibit, at the time of its creation, was one of very few in existence on this subject and as such has been in high demand across the region and the country.

The CGRF also provided a small grant to the Museum to support developing programming to complement the relaunch of the reformatted exhibit.