Photo fills Saskatchewan residential school survivor with pride

Grant Severeight feels proud when he looks at the black and white photograph.

American photojournaist Daniella Zalcman took Grant Severeight's portrait as part of series

Grant Severight, who went to St. Phillips Indian Residential School in Kamsack, Saskatchewan, was photographed for a series on residential school survivors. (Daniella Zalcman/Pulitzer Center)

Grant Severeight feels proud when he looks at the black and white photograph. 

It reminds him how far he's come. He's a residential school survivor, a former alcoholic and drug addict. 

"I have a beautiful life now," the mental health therapist with Health Canada told Saskatoon Morning host Leisha Grebinski. 

He credits the turnaround in his life to telling his story. Telling people about the trauma and abuse he suffered while attending St. Phillips Indian Residential School in Kamsack, Sask. from 1955-64. 

Daniella Zalcman is also a storyteller. The London-based American photojournalist spent three weeks photographing residential school survivors in Saskatchewan. 

The multiple exposure portraits, including the one she shot of Severeight, are being featured on The New Yorker magazine's Instagram page this week. 

"I learned just how significant and impactful intergenerational trauma can be and it is something that we don't necessarily think about and that, I think, we easily take for granted," she said.

"We think about things that happened in the past and we assume they are bygones, and that is just not the case."

Although Severeight believes the project will make a difference, he said even more needs to be done to raise awareness. 

"Our stories haven't really been heard the way we think they should have been heard," he said "There's a lot of media attention on it, but really, still lots of people -- not only in Canada, but in the U.S. and all over North America. People have never really heard what happened in terms of genocide here to First Nations children." 


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.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?