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Finding our Faces shows life at Whitehorse Mission Baptist School

Memories of the only residential school in Whitehorse are preserved in a new book. Finding our Faces contains more than 60 pages of photos and stories from the Whitehorse Mission Baptist School, which was open from 1947 to 1960. The book will be shared with former residential school students and families.

Book could be used as a tool to teach history of residential school, says Adeline Webber

Adeline Webber points out her sister in Finding our Faces, a photo book documenting student life at Whitehorse Mission Baptist School. (CBC)

Memories of the only residential school in Whitehorse are preserved in a new book.

Adeline Webber, vice president of the Whitehorse Aboriginal Women's Circle, attended the Whitehorse Mission Baptist School, which was open from 1947 to 1960. More than a year ago, she started gathering photographs of the school and its students for a book. 

Adeline Webber says 300 copies of Finding our Faces will be printed and distributed to students who attended the Whitehorse Mission Baptist School. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)

"It's documenting my history for my children and grandchildren," she said. 

Finding our Faces contains over 60 pages of photos and stories, which will be shared with former residential school students and their families.

About 150,000 First Nation, Inuit and Métis children from across the country were removed from their communities and forced to attend residential schools between the late 1800s and 1996. Many students lived in substandard conditions and endured physical and emotional abuse. 

For Webber, making a book is one step in the reconciliation process. She says without photos, memories — and history — can be lost. 

"I'm remembering things," she said about the impact of the book. "Oh yeah, we did that, we were berry picking, or we were skating on little ponds, things like that." 

One reason the project was undertaken was because many former students had never seen photos of themselves from that time, nor had their children or grandchildren.

Melissa Carlick, who also worked on the book, saw for the first time in its pages what her grandmother looked like as a child. A photo of her grandmother adorns the front page. 

'It was really neat to see [grandma] as a child and a young woman," says Melissa Carlick, who worked on Finding our Faces. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)

"It was really neat to see her as a child and a young woman," Carlick said. 

Webber is talking to Yukon's Department of Education about using the book to teach the history of residential schools.

She says 300 copies of the book will be printed and distributed to students who attended the school. The rest will be sold to the public with proceeds to go towards a school reunion.  

Corrections

  • Melissa Carlick's grandfather who attended Whitehorse Mission Baptist School is not deceased, and she did not see what he looked like for the first time in the pages of a new book about the school and its students. Incorrect information appeared in an earlier version of this story.
    Dec 05, 2015 10:30 PM CT

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