Residential school exhibit documents 'pain'

A major exhibition about residential schools begins today at Laurentian University in Sudbury.

Sudbury's Laurentian University hosts First Nations residential school exhibit until Oct. 4

A travelling exhibition with artifacts from residential schools, called "100 Years of Loss" is on display at Laurentian University until Oct. 4.The exhibit has already travelled to more than a dozen cities and campuses across Canada. (CBC)

A major exhibition about residential schools begins today at Laurentian University in Sudbury.

The exhibit features archival photographs and has already been staged at more than a dozen cities across Canada.

The manager of Aboriginal student affairs at Laurentian said the school has more than 1,000 students who identify as First Nations.

The issue of residential schools is one of the most talked about on campus, Denise Gauthier-Frohlick said, because so many survivors are coming forward.

"People are just now finding their voices. A lot of people know they went to residential schools, but they didn't want to touch that pain,” she said.

“But now they are touching that pain. They are on the healing journey."

Laurentian graduate Lisa Wabange, who is also of First Nations heritage, said these exhibits are important because, for a long time, residential school survivors didn't speak up.

"In my community, nobody talked about those things because it was too hurtful or too painful,” she said. “Nobody talked about it."

The centre piece of the exhibition, 100 Years of Loss, is a long, curved wall.

It has a timeline with photos and text depicting Canada's history with residential schools.

"Here, in 1885 [it says] ‘traditional Indian ceremonies, such as potlatches, are prohibited.' It's very painful to be able to read that,” Gauthier-Frohlick said.

When Gauthier-Frohlick reaches the end of the time line, she said improvements have been made, but it's not the end of the story.

"2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologizes to First Nations. You know, like, the apology has been made, but there's still a lot of work to be done."

100 Years of Loss runs at Laurentian University until Oct. 4.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.