Storying Living Memories about Indian Day Schools: Transforming Reconciliation

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Chamberlin, Amy Renata




This work is an intricate history of an Indian Day School located at Listuguj on Mi'gmaw territory of Gespe'gewa'gi, Mi'gma'gi, present-day Gaspé Peninsula (Québec). The dissertation assembles living oral memory of former students together with finely detailed archival research. The Indian Day school (and its many forms) operated at Listuguj (formerly Restigouche), from 1856 until 1969. The dissertation makes a real contribution to our understandings of the genocidal 'education' of Indigenous peoples in Canada, complicating the dominant narrative about residential schools and also introducing Québec into this history. Is it possible to conceptualize deeper forms of reconciliation on the basis of a more complex story of colonial schooling as well as the affirmation of Indigenous knowledge systems? If so, how? The historiography assembles fragments from archival records together with living oral memories to create a picture, with the hope that others will take what is needed to create other stories, new memories. The dissertation works with Indigenous concepts of relationality and storywork and uses Western analytics as a webbing in its analysis. There are also moments of settler self-reflexivity necessary for deeper forms of reconciliation. The dissertation animates the concept of "trans-systemic knowledges". The concept of "ethical space" is brought into play to facilitate the active relationship sense of trans-systemic knowledge building. The research on day schooling exposes how state violence operated from the inside out: Indigenous children did not necessarily need to leave their families or their ancestral lands to feel (or experience) the harms of "white possession". The storying approach, centering the voices of former students, seeks to ethically honour Mi'gmaw knowledges, which continued, changed, and adapted, while settler institutions (and logics) encroached and attempted to take root on the territory. Beneath (beyond, despite) the dominant narrative depicting reconciliation as a 'national' and 'big hug' there are possibilities. Standing still, hearing the difficult history of day schooling, the dissertation balances the demonstration of pain and harm with an insistence on survivance and resistance. Attending to the history of a particular place, there are possibilities for transformative reconciliation.


Canadian Studies
Education - History of
Canadian History




Carleton University

Thesis Degree Name: 

Doctor of Philosophy: 

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Thesis Degree Discipline: 

Canadian Studies

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Theses and Dissertations

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