Today, the national president of the Legacy of Hope Foundation Adam North Peigan was on-hand at the Galt Museum and Archives to encourage southern Albertans to experience the “Escaping Residential Schools: Running for their Lives” exhibit. Guest curator Dr. Tiffany Prete’s exhibit “Stolen Kainai Children: Stories of Survival” is also currently on display.
“Escaping Residential Schools” sheds light on the dark history of the Residential School System. The travelling exhibit gives a voice to First Nations, Inuit and Metis children, using first-person perspectives from those who escaped, and honours those who died in the process by using personal accounts from family members.
“Within the Legacy of Hope Foundation, there are 24-plus national exhibits on the colonization of our people. Everything from Residential Schools, the Sixties Scoop, missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, the whole notion of Orange Shirt Day Sept. 30 and the Metis experience within the Residential Schools. This is one of our exhibits,” says North Peigan.
It’s an opportunity, North Peigan adds, to raise awareness and educate Canadians. “About some of the atrocities and some of the things we had to endure as Indigenous people, as a result of government policies that were very harmful to our communities.”
“This is about using that as an opportunity to bring out as many people in the Lethbridge and surrounding area to come to the Galt Museum and take a look at these exhibits. It’s storytelling and it documents a dark chapter in Canada’s history that needs to be told,” notes North Peigan.
The foundation, based out of Ottawa, is a national Indigenous-led charitable organization, promoting healing and Reconciliation in Canada for over 24 years.
North Peigan is from Treaty 7 and is Blackfoot from the Piikani First Nation. He is a product of the Residential School and a survivor of the Sixties Scoop. His career has been spent advocating for Indigenous people and creating awareness of colonialism and oppressive actions, as a result of government policies being imposed on the Indigenous people in Canada.
Prete says the “Stolen Kanai Children” exhibit is very specific to the Blood Tribe Peoples.
“I’m a member of the Blood Tribe and I wanted to share the research I’ve been working on for the past decade about the history of colonization and the education system on the Blood reserve. In the exhibit, I go through the different school systems the Canadian government used for a century-and-a-half to assimilate Indigenous children. Residential Schools is only one of those school systems,” Prete explains.
According to Prete, there are photographs that go along with each of the school systems. “I worked with Elders from my community to share stories about their experiences with each of the school systems to go along with the photographs. I also talk about the resiliency of the Blood people and despite these horrible things that have happened to us through the past century-and-a-half, just how resilient we have been in the face of these atrocities and we’re still Indigenous and still living our cultural way of life.”
Galt curator Tyler Stewart says the exhibit has been on display since September 2023. The museum invites residents and southern Albertans to learn about this important part of Canadian history.
Darrin Martens, CEO and executive director of the Galt, says the exhibit chronicles through different lives. “Surviving Residential Schools and what that has meant to them and their lives and hope for the future.”
Admission is free to the exhibit until Mar. 3, when the exhibition closes. “So, more people can experience this exhibit and learn about the truth of our Canadian history,” adds Martens.