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Intimate colonialisms: the material and experienced places of British Columbia's residential schools.


The colonial geographies of British Columbia (BC) are well considered, by geographers and non-geographers alike, notably with reference to: the creation of reserves (Harris 2002); tensions between colonial and Indigenous cartographic imaginings of the province (Brealey 1995; Sparke 1998); illness and depopulation amongst Indigenous (1) populations as a function of colonization and contact (Harris 1997/98, 1999; Kelm 1998); missionizing processes and competing ecumenical efforts (Neylan 2003); competing land, resource and governance claims between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples (Tennant 1990; D. Harris 2001; Morris and Fondahl 2002) and, more broadly, as outcomes of colonial powers that constructed and maintained Indigenous peoples as 'othered' within the province's landscapes (Blake 1999; Clayton 2000). While there is a growing literature on residential schools in BC (Redford 1979-80; Haig-Brown 1988; Sterling 1992; Raibmon 1996; Woods 1996; Neylan 2000), little geographic notice has been given to colonialism as it was embedded, embodied and enacted through these schools. In this article, I argue that the relatively small and intimate geographies of residential schools offer important insights into colonial projects in BC. I begin with a brief history of the province's residential schools, followed by a discussion of theories of place as a means to conceptualize colonialism. I then explore how both the material and the non-physical geographies of residential schools sought to shape and transform First Nations children while simultaneously acting as sites within which First Nations subjects asserted agency and Indigeneity. First Nations published testimonies (2) provide the primary referent through which experiences of place are explored. Theoretical discussions concerning the 'nested place' (3) nature of BC's residential schools and their occupants allow both to be examined as singular subjects and as places of multiplicity and plurality within the colonial contest. This plurality becomes apparent, in part, when First Nations students' narratives of trauma and victimization within the schools are juxtaposed with narratives of active student resistance and expressions of creative agency within the same locations. Although the testimonies considered in the first section of the article portray residential schooling primarily as a traumatic and disciplining effort imposed upon First Nations students, in the second section of the article I am interested in disrupting, or troubling, the narrative of uncontested colonial imposition. Consequently, I conclude the article with a consideration of how nested place, First Nations' resistances and Euro-colonial concepts of gender are circulating today with reference to a Dakelh woman (and former residential school student) under consideration for beatification in northern BC.

Placing British Columbia's Colonial Education

In considering the geographies of residential schools in BC I draw from and combine a number of theories on place and colonialism, beginning with the premise that a place, site or event is best understood through 'the multiple processes which constitute it' (Foucault 1991, 76). Furthermore, I agree that if we are truly interested in understanding colonialism, particularly as a spatialized set of endeavors, it is crucial we investigate the sites and places where it was practiced (Harris 2004). It is in those places, as Harris argues, where colonialism's effects were displayed and its tactics actualized. To cast further light on the colonial contest in BC, therefore, a discussion both of specific places, and of those places in constitutive context, seems imperative.

BC residential schools, although certainly individual sites with specific bounded parameters, were (and continue to be) located within and constituted by larger narratives and processes of colonialism. Consequently, I also find it useful to understand the colonialism of residential schools and schooling through Kobayashi and Peake's (2000) observation that, when it comes to social processes in place, 'the material and the ideological ... are not separate, nor are they alternative ... but [are] rather two dimensions of human action, ontologically inseparable' (393). Finally, my discussions of colonialism in BC's residential schools are premised on an understanding that colonialism is never a complete nor homogenous project and is always comprised of social and political constructs that exist somewhere between the discursive and the practical (Thomas 1994).

Colonial action aimed at Aboriginal peoples in Canada was centred on structural processes imposed upon Indigenous peoples, including geographic incursion, destruction of socio-cultural structures, and the imposition of external control (Frideres 1988). Colonial action, however, requires an ideological framework of explanation and rationalization. Such ideological frameworks, as many post-colonial theorists have argued, are comprised of nuanced social practices and cultural iterations which insist that (particularly non-white) non-Euro colonial peoples, and all elements of their existences, are flawed and inherently inferior (Bhabha 1994; Said 1994). To think of this in another way, it is helpful to understand colonialism, like racism, as a set of practices and outcomes arising from the cumulative merger of thoughts, discursive iterations and bureaucracies or laws (Razack 2004). In other words, the very possibility of engaging in acts of colonialism, including colonial education in BC, relied on the creation, and the subsequent 'bringing into being', of an 'Other' over which colonialists constructed and reconstructed themselves as dominant and more advanced corporeally, intellectually and culturally (McClintock 1995). These constructions then informed, and manifested into, structural undertakings, including residential schooling and (en)forced colonial education. None of which is to say, and this is relevant with reference to residential schooling in BC, that colonial discourses and practices were uncontested by those whom the discourses and practices were intent on othering and subjugating (Scott 1990; Thomas 1994).

Residential schooling in BC was constituted through a lineage of colonial schooling practices across Canada. This lineage of schooling, founded on a Euro-colonial ideological system premised on the conviction that Aboriginal peoples required transformation, can be traced to Canada's first boarding school for Aboriginal children, opened in New France by the Recollects' in 1620. Although not a great deal has been written about pre-confederation residential schooling in Canada (Carney 1995), it seems clear there is some continuity of purpose between early colonial schooling and the pedagogical values of residential schools after the 1867 British North American Act. Teaching strategies and purposes differed between early schools, primarily as a result of the ecumenical goals held by institutions operating schools and the individualized endeavors undertaken by teachers staffing them (Carney 1995). Boarding schools across the territory, however, focused to varying degrees on Christianization of Aboriginal students, basic fluency in English or French, the instilment of European values and morals on students, and the practice of labouring activities in accordance with beliefs not only that Aboriginal peoples were best served with training in trades, agriculture and the domestic arts (Barmen et al. 1986) but also that Aboriginal peoples would likely never surpass a place of the labouring or second class in Canada.

Schooling as an agent for Indigenous social engineering and cultural transformation became well entrenched in Canada with the establishment of the 1876 Indian Act, a set of policy parameters which for the first rime solidified Canada's commitment to enforced education of Aboriginal children. The Indian Act was predicated on the shifting historical policy goals of protecting, civilizing and, finally, assimilating Aboriginal peoples (Canada 1996, Chapter 9). These goals, according to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP), were perhaps most succinctly embodied in education, a practice 'obviously a creature of Canada's paternalism toward Aboriginal people, its civilizing strategy and its stern assimilative determination' (RCAP 1996, Chapter 10: 1). A1though the foundations of a national colonial education process for Aboriginal children were set by the Indian Act, the policy was in many ways not fully actualized until 1879, the year Nicolas Flood Davin tabled his Report on Industrial Schools for Indians and Half-Breeds (Canada 1879).

The report, completed by Davin after an investigation of boarding schools for Aboriginal children in the United States, concluded that assimilation of Indigenous peoples in Canada would succeed only if the new nation adopted assertive educational practices predicated on boarding (residential) schools. Residential schooling was preferred to day or industrial schools which, according to Davin, allowed too much contact between Aboriginal children, their families and their cultures, thereby encouraging students' recidivism to savagery. Residential schools, argued Davin, would be 'the principle feature' of the policy known as 'aggressive civilization' which would guarantee Aboriginal children were 'kept constantly within the circle of civilized conditions' where they would receive the 'care of a mother' and an education that would prepare them for a life in modernizing Canada (Canada 1879--'Davin Report'). It was with the tabling of Davin's report that place became explicitly paramount in the colonial contest. Confined and specific sites were vital in the transmission and enactment of colonial ideologies.

Place, as geographers have long observed, is a complex and contested concept. Nevertheless, broad agreement holds that place has an intimacy and 'known-ness' that the concept of space can lack. Furthermore, ongoing discussions concerning place have expanded the concept far beyond that of a small, contained, site within a more encompassing or universal space. Although place certainly carries with it the resonance of 'locale', it is incorrect to assume a material neutrality to the concept (Massey 1994). Indeed, as Agnew (1887) insists, place is precisely where 'social relations are constituted' (26) and as Keith and Pile (1993) have argued, place must be theorized as 'no longer passive, no longer fixed, no longer unidialectical ... but, still, in a very real sense about location and locatedness' (5). Furthermore, social and political ideologies are made to function, are put into practice and are understood, in part through their emplacement (Cresswell 1996). As Casey (1997) suggests, place can be a generative event and may be understood as 'an active source of presencing [where] within its close embrace, things get located and begin to happen' (63).

Place no longer suggests rigid containment or boundary but rather, taking its lead from the permeability of the organic body, 'extends to the world without end ... ingresses into the world in its entirety and draws that world back into itself. Thanks to this power, place is to be recognized as an un-delimited, de-totalized expansiveness, resonating regionally throughout the unknown as well as the known universe' (336). That conceptualizations of place might take direction from considerations of the body, or indeed that the body is a politicized place unto itself, is a concept not overlooked by feminist geographers. McDowell (1999), for instance, argues that the body is the most intimate of places while simultaneously embodying crucial sites of political, economic, and cultural struggles. The body, as Smith (1993) argues, is the place where one subject joins or separates from another and where 'the culturally dominant and the culturally marginalized are assigned their 'proper' places' (10).

BC's residential schools, and the bodies of both the First Nations children and colonial subjects who occupied them, might thus be theorized as places within broader colonial narratives where the material and the ideological are inextricably linked. The enfolded combination of these places might be further understood as simultaneously supporting and defying the larger colonial contest in which all were situated. In other words, the relatively small places of BC's residential schools (and the smaller body-places within the schools) may be understood as multidirectional and permeable sites nested within, yet crucial to, larger spatial colonial projects. Theorizing the nestedness of residential schools, and of those who occupied them, resonates with Malpas's (1999) philosophy that subjectivity is embedded, or nested, within place and that place is narrated both by those subjects who occupy and make sense of it and by events and social interactions which also construct it. It is through this conceptualization of nested place that BC's residential schools become both places experienced within the colonial contest and places narrated by the in situ subjects, who have agency, whom the colonial process sought through education to assimilate and transform into non-Indigenous peoples.

Intimate Places of Colonialism: Residential Schools in British Columbia

British Columbia's residential schools operated between 1861 and 1984. The majority of the schools were (and remain) clustered in the southwest region of the province. Of the 18, nine were operated (in partnership with the federal government) by the Roman Catholic Church while the remaining nine were operated by the United, Methodist and Anglican Churches (Figure 1). While both day and boarding schools operated across Canada prior to the 1876 Indian Act and the Davin Report (1879), the vast majority of schools in British Columbia opened after both of these colonial education milestones were in place. Seventeen of the 18 schools opened post the 1876 Indian Act while 15 of British Columbia's residential schools opened and operated after Davin's report was tabled in 1879. Most BC residential schools, therefore, operated within a clear assimilativist policy framework: residential education was a means both to break Aboriginal children's links with their communities and cultures and a means to absorb them into a dominant society (Titley 1986). The built and material structures of the province's residential schools, in addition to the curricular and ideological content delivered within the schools, might thus be theorized as physical and non-material 'placial' realizations of larger colonial endeavors toward Aboriginal Peoples.

Architecturally and materially, BC's residential schools transmitted a colonial narrative of non-Aboriginal domination and superiority over First Nations peoples. As the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (1996) has attested, residential schools which Nuu-chah-nulth people attended were:
   often laid out on or near the top of a hill, giving
   them an imposing, looming, even scary appearance
   in the eyes of young Nuu-chah-nulth children new
   to such places. The comparatively huge residential
   school buildings implied an importance above and
   beyond that of any local traditional authority, including
   that of the highest ranked Chief. On their
   first day at Indian Residential Schools, along with
   the trauma of being separated from their parents,
   Nuu-chah-nulth students new to the schools faced
   the realization that physical conditions, at those institutions,
   were very different than those they were
   used to in their home villages (27-28).

Similarly, an anonymous testimony by a former Kamloops Indian Residential School student, published by the Secwepemc Cultural Education Society (2000), recollects the school as physically overwhelming and powerfully disorienting. The student recalls:
   When I got to the residential school [Kamloops], it
   looked huge. I remember thinking, how am I ever
   going to find my way around here, everything's so
   big. When Father was talking to me, it seemed to be
   hollow and echoing. It seemed strange, you could
   smell the polish of the floors, it seemed so different.
   When I got upstairs the lights were out and
   it was dark in there. When I finally knelt down
   [to pray], I disappeared under the bed, it was so
   high ... I remember laying there and crying and crying

Far then from functioning as mere containers through which colonial narratives were delivered, residential school buildings and grounds were colonial geographies in which First Nations students were enveloped. The buildings ensured First Nations students, from the moment they set eyes upon the places of their 'education', were spatially disoriented in a place designed to exclude and expunge Indigeneity. The materiality of the schools produced, in situ, the power and supremacy of a Euro-colonial presence in BC. First Nations students were not only dwarfed within a colonially built environment, they were materially reminded in their every movement that their lives and culture were subordinated to a more imposing and powerful force making effort to overtake and transform them as Indigenous peoples.


Although there were substantial layout and design differences between BC's residential schools, architectural blueprints and historic and aerial photographs of the sites confirm certain elements of commonality, all of which would have circumscribed and delineated the everyday lives of subjects occupying the schools (Figures 2 and 3). The schools were generally bifurcated in design, reflecting an alien and disorienting gender division which created a further structural disconnect between First Nations' school reality and the much more interwoven lives they led in home communities (Fournier and Crey 1997). The main school and boarding building, which was generally entered through a central door, was usually flanked by outbuildings including a chapel, staff and teaching living quarters, and barns and livestock buildings. In photographs of residential schools across the province the central doors and steps act as a stage and backdrop for lines of Aboriginal students descending the stairs into a front row of Euro-colonial teachers, nuns and priests. (4) Figuratively, the composition of the photographs employed the architecture of the school to emphasize and illustrate the possibility of First Nations children transforming into the non-Indigenous subjects who occupied the photographic foreground of the images. This foreground, with its visual closeness to a viewer who was likely understood as non-Aboriginal (given many of the photographs were circulated to mission societies and colonial officials) suggests a link between the photographs' foreground, the architecture of the schools and a modern civilized era and space into which Aboriginal children, through their education, were surely progressing.

As the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council observed, residential schools were situated in cleared lands, which, in the colonial mind, stood in contrast to the 'uncivilized wilderness' which surrounded the grounds. Fiske (1989) has argued similarly, observing that the strict boundary and delimitation between residential school grounds and wilderness was emblematic of a colonial discourse in BC that equated (Euro-colonial) civility and progress with settled and agriculturally managed lands and savagery and regression (Indigenousness) with unaltered or undomesticated lands. Davin's (1879) 'circle of civilized conditions' was, therefore, very much inscribed in the grounds of BC's residential schools. In the case of Lejac Indian Residential School in north-central BC, that circle of civilized condition was manually carved out by First Nations students who testified that they were used 'just like bulldozers ... down [came the trees] with our axes and cross cut saws, two boys on a saw. No heavy machinery, the team's not enough, we do it instead, just like a prison gang ...' (quoted in Fiske 1989, 259). Not only, then, did the physical sites of residential schools impose themselves on First Nations students, the students were forced, quite literally, to embody and live the colonial apparatus by partaking in its very creation.

The interior places of British Columbia's residential schools were no less enforcing of colonial agendas than the external architecture and the grounds surrounding the schools. Kamloops, Lejac, St. George's, St. Eugene's, St. Joseph's and Kuper Island Residential Schools all mirrored one another in their three- or four-story, symmetrically divided, and institutionally convenient layout. This layout included long straight hallways and large open areas that facilitated staff supervision and control of First Nation students and ensured the students were always within the monitoring and colonial gaze of school staffs. Many students experienced the school interiors as material articulations both of colonialism's assimilationist violence and its agenda of eliminating Indigenousness from the BC landscape. For Mary Anne Roberts, who attended St. Mary's Indian Residential School from 1946 to 1957, the shower stalls in the bathrooms of the schools were places through which whiteness, as an ultimately unattainable superiority, was imposed. Roberts testifies that:
   There were five showers, but there was no curtain
   dividing one from another, and when I was
   in lower grades we would have a senior girl in the
   shower and they would put us in and the senior
   would scrub us down. Then the nun was standing
   at the door ... and she would check to see if we
   were clean, and with me, I am naturally dark, so I
   would always get sent back. I always got sent back
   because to her I was, not that I was dirty, it is
   just because I was naturally dark. So I would get
   sent back and they would scrub the heck out of me
   and that had a really, really bad effect on me, and
   through the years, even up to now, I would feel myself
   washing and washing and never feeling clean.
   It had a lifelong effect on me (quoted in Glavin
   2002, 47).



There is something intimately corporeal, then, in how the fixed and intimate place of a shower stall translated and inscribed colonial narratives. The place of a residential school, and the more diminutive place of a shower stall within the school, became the material site for enactment of colonial government policy, including the policy perspective of Duncan Campbell Scott, Deputy Superintendent of the Department of Indian Affairs between 1913 and 1932, who observed that 'the happiest future for the Indian race is absorption into the general [white] population, and this is the object of the policy of our government' (quoted in Titley 1986, 34). The places within BC's residential schools were, quite literally, tasked with inscribing non-Indigeneity into and upon First Nations children so that those children would come to embody the expectations of colonial expectations. Mary Anne Roberts' body and the shower stall that confined her, both of which were nested within St. Mary's Residential School, became the intimate places through which colonialism's goal of Indian absorption into white society was expressed and enacted.

While the grounds and interiors of BC's 18 residential schools were places by and through which the colonial contest in the province was enacted, Mary Anne Roberts' testimony highlights colonialism's most intimate place focus: the bodies of First Nations children. These very intimate places, these 'body-places' of residential school students, were at the core of the Euro-colonial agenda of transforming Aboriginal peoples in Canada. Bodily transformation of Aboriginal children was documented through the production of 'before and after' photographs, composed to highlight the inscription of civilization on the Aboriginal body (Milloy 1999; Churchill 2004). The photographs were often circulated back to missionary societies or potential financial benefactors who reacted favourably to evidence of successful transformation of 'heathens'. Children were thus pictured 'before' the educational (cultural transformation) process with long hair, unwashed faces and adorned with 'savage' accoutrements. They were then photographed 'after' the educational (cultural transformation) process with shorn hair, scrubbed skin and surrounded with the accoutrements of civility, often including agricultural symbols such as potted plants. The places of the Aboriginal body were more, however, than surfaces upon which to inscribe civility. They were the places into which the colonial project physically asserted itself through forced eating rituals, discipline and punishment, and (perhaps most aggressively) through assault and impregnation.

Former students of both St. Mary's Indian Residential School and Kamloops Indian Residential School recall with revulsion their diets while at school (Glavin 2003; Secwepemc 2000). Students were forbidden to eat 'traditional' foods and a poor Euro-colonial diet was imposed. Ben David, a member of the Nuu-chah-nulth Nation, recalls that food constituted both physical and emotional abuse:
   In all the years I spent there, [I] never liked the
   food ... [but] we had to eat it. That's part of the
   physical part too. I guess the emotional part of
   that too was we knew, there were times when we
   worked in the kitchen ... we'd see all the good food
   going to the staff, and they ate really well, you
   know (Nuu-chah-nulth 1996, 37).

Sandra Victor, former St. Mary's student, recalls, 'the food, well, I will talk about the worst part. First was Fridays. We would have scrambled eggs and fish and it was terrible, and there was another meal [oatmeal] that they had and it was awful and they would make us eat everything on our plate and we would have to try and bide it so that we didn't have to eat it' (quoted in Glavin 2002, 70). The imposed diets at residential schools might thus be understood in relation to a larger, global, colonial project whereby food was used either to emotionally subordinate First Nations students or as a means by which the colonial project inserted itself in the bodies of subjects the project attempted to colonize.

If diet was a focus of attack, so too were the even more intimate realms of character and emotion. In her recollection of residential schooling at St. Mary's Indian Residential School, former student Barbara Stewart recalls that 'there was [one nun who] would say that I would be a drunk and a bum on skid row when I left St. Mary's and she told me that everyday that I was there ... [t]hey took your whole personality and changed it' (Glavin 2002, 48). Euro-colonial educators insisted that if allowed outside the contained colonial places of residential schools, Aboriginal children would 'regress'. This insistence constructed First Nations children as naturally aberrant subjects in need of colonial infrastructures to correct what the colonial narrative insisted were traits of savagery and incivility in Aboriginal peoples. This construction of First Nations children as deviant, by virtue of an adherence to their cultures and communities, is clear in the testimony of a former Kamloops Indian Residential School student who states that
   They took away my belongings, they took everything
   from me. Everything that's important to me,
   mother, father, culture ... They stripped us of everything.
   Gave us brown uniforms and a number.
   And they put what they wanted in us, made us
   ashamed of who we are. Even right to this day, it
   still affects me. Like I really want to get into Indian
   things and I just can't because of them telling us
   it was the devil. Every time I try, something blocks
   me. (author's emphasis; Secwepemc 2000, 29)

Both the students from Kamloops and St. Mary's articulate the colonial strategy of residential schooling embedding (emplacing) itself on or within bodies and personalities. Ultimately, then, the colonial project, and those who enacted it in British Columbia, conceived First Nations children's bodies as bounded yet permeable places into which, with proper force and structure, Euro-colonial sensibilities could be fixed.

If one strategy of the colonial project in British Columbian residential schools was to emplace itself within the body-places of First Nations subjects, another equally important strategy was for colonialism to embed itself in the subjective and non-material places of First Nations students' thoughts, perspectives and memories. This component of residential schooling was primarily undertaken through curricula and teaching process, the goal of which was the transformation of thought and spirit. Former residential school students understood well the nested relationships between the school structures, body-places of subjects who occupied them, and the thoughts and subjective places of First Nations students. Robert Simon, of the Skeetchestn Indian Band and former student of the Kamloops Indian Residential School, summarizes the relationship succinctly, saying 'you apply a system to children rive, six and seven years old. You can be certain those minds and emotions are vulnerable ... you add in the violence, the sexual abuse, then you add in the focus solely on the church or religion. You are no longer a full human being. You've been modified' (Secwepemc 2000, 111). Modification of Aboriginal students, therefore, while certainly focused on children's physicality, was also very much concerned with emotion, value and, in the broadest sense, with subjectivity and imagination. Irma Bos, a Tsisha-aksup member of the Nuu-chah-nulth Nation observes of residential schooling curricula at Alberni Indian Residential School that it 'killed the spirit. They killed your spirit ... I guess you'd say ... [l]ike, your own self-expression. You weren't allowed to be self expressive.... it was an experience, really' (Nuu-chah-nulth 1996, 111).

Just as First Nations students were acutely aware that colonialism was invested in their spirits and emotions, so too were both government officials who guided the policy direction of the schools and colonial educators who implemented the policy within the schools. In October 1946, through the medium of the Indian School Bulletin (the first nationally circulated pedagogical guide for teachers working in residential schools) teachers were reminded:
   there is no place for a pessimist in the Indian services.
   This is a task that demands devotion and
   self-sacrifice on the part of Indian Agents, teachers
   and missionaries ... The Indian problem is basically
   an educational one [and] when I speak of education
   I have not in mind something injected into
   the Indian during his brief sojourn at school, but
   a life process that should begin at birth and continue
   through the course of his life (Indian School
   Bulletin 10 October 1946, 1).

Indeed, by 1952 the cover page of the Indian School Bulletin reminded residential schools teachers that their teaching pedagogy 'should think in terms of the whole child, body and soul, intellect and will, sense, imagination, and emotions' (n.p.). Acts of colonizing thought and imagination are imbedded in the memories of an Ahousaksup woman who remembers her mother saying that First Nations students at Christie Residential School 'weren't even allowed to think cultural. They knew what you were thinking when you were daydreaming ... I wasn't even allowed to think or dream of home' (Nuu-chah-nulth 1996: 19). Residential school curricula, then, was envisioned by colonial policy makers and educators as a practice undertaken by self-sacrificing Euro-colonial subjects with a desired outcome of fully transformed Aboriginal subjects. This entailed the destruction of First Nations' thought, feeling, and imagination. The colonial project in British Columbia, therefore, was vested not only through material places, but also in imaginative and experiential places. These latter places, as theories of nested place insist, are inextricable from the more material body-places and school-places that surrounded even the most intimate places of imagination, dreaming, and thought.

Aboriginal girls and young women were particularly susceptible to the bodily implantation of colonialism. This was a consciously articulated policy amongst colonial administrators and was expressed in sentiments such as the 'great forces of intermarriage and education will finally overcome the lingering traces of native custom and tradition' (Duncan Campbell Scott, quoted in Titley 1986, 34). If Nicolas Flood Davin envisioned residential schools as, metaphorically, womb like places where Aboriginal children would receive the 'care of a mother' and if the Superintendent of Indian Affairs conflated intermarriage and education as the two ways to overcome Aboriginal custom and tradition, it should perhaps come as little surprise that the testimonies of former residential school students include (albeit very scant) recollections of pregnancy and abortion within the schools. Although sexual assault and forced impregnation were by no means policy imperatives of the colonial Canadian government, a climate of subordinating First Nations physical and emotional worth, in combination with scant monitoring of the schools, may have conspired to produce the environment that Eddy Jules of Kamloops Indian Residential School recalls:
   When I was in Senior B I used to hear about girls
   getting pregnant down the other end of the building.
   They'd get pregnant, but they would never
   have kids, you know. And the thing was, they'd
   bring somebody in from over town who'd do an
   abortion, I guess. We used to hear it. It used to
   be really scary, hearing them open up the incinerator
   after what was going on. Ninety percent
   of it, I think, was from the supervisor knocking
   up our people because to them we were nothing
   (Secwepemc 2000, 74).

Jules' account must be read carefully and thoughtfully, particularly because, as he acknowledges, boys and girls were separated by place within the schools and his knowledge is thus not firsthand. Pregnancy in Canadian residential schools is almost entirely unrecorded in the research and literature about the schools. Reference, particularly by women, to impregnation is almost non-existent in testimonial literatures. This is likely attributable to both the tremendous shame factor involved for First Nations women and, as David Adams (1995) points out with reference to American boarding schools, to 'superintendents [who] were generally hesitant to talk about such matters for the simple reason that it reflected poorly on their management abilities. There is no record of how many girls were quietly dropped from the rolls [of boarding schools] for reasons of pregnancy' (180). While Mary-Ellen Kelm's (1996; 1998) detailed accounts of unhealth in BC's residential schools do not mention pregnancy, she does note that transforming First Nations cultures 'meant capturing bodies first: indeed, residential schooling had, at its very core, the desire to physically supervise, contain and control the population of First Nations' youth' (1996: 53) and that former students struggled with seeing 'their bodies as sites of sinfulness rather than beauty ... both as the long-term result of an anti-body Christian education and, more traumatically, of sexual abuse' (78). Eddy Jules himself offers perhaps the most poignant explanation as to why so little about pregnancy in the schools is recorded. He states '... I was scared. I think most of the kids realized what was going on, but there was nothing we could do. We couldn't say anything because nobody would believe us. We'd talk about it, you know' (Secwepemc 2000, 75). Little doubt exists that sexual abuses occurred in British Columbia's residential schools. Ecumenical apologies, court rulings, confessions of perpetrators and innumerable First Nations testimonies corroborate this (Buti 2001; Canada 2003). It is not unreasonable to extrapolate from these evidences that pregnancies did occur in British Columbia's residential schools and that Eddy Jules' memories offer insight into school realities. The colonial project in BC was certainly practiced through nested place strategies; the residential schools themselves, the subjects contained by the schools and, finally, the most intimate of places within the bodies of young First Nations peoples.

The gendered specificity of colonialism's project in BC was encoded within residential school architecture. Boys' dorms were separated from girls' dorms and, while this division would have been common to many non-Aboriginal boarding schools of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in BC, what was unique about Indian residential schools was the heightened social segregation and familial breakdown which resulted from that material separation of genders. Gender division served two functions within residential schools: separating members of First Nations families and entrenching Euro-colonial gender ideals. A former student of Christie Indian Residential school and a Hesquia-asksup member of the Nuu-chah-nulth Nation observes that gender separation in the school resulted in her being
   torn apart from them [siblings]. The windows were
   painted up so that we couldn't see our relatives, or
   our brothers. I never knew anyone [because] they
   always had us divided from others. They always
   made us forget our own family! Well, they did! We
   weren't allowed to speak to our own brother! (Nuu-chah-nulth
   1996, 17).

Barbara Amos, another member of the Nuu-chah-nulth Nation and former student of Alberni Indian Residential School, recalls that gender separation was not confined to dorm rooms, remembering that the school was 'really strict ... like girls on one side and boys on the other side. And that's how we ate too ... We never ate together like a family' (Nuu-chah-nulth 1996, 21). Robert Cootes recalls that the gendered limitations and place separations imposed on students at Alberni Residential School were very much about breaking family bonds, stating that:
   throughout the night a half dozen, dozen kids
   would be crying, you know ... just whimpering
   [about wanting family] ... Oh yeah, I had three sisters
   and a brother there ... we got punished for
   even talking to them! We couldn't even look at
   them! Couldn't go five feet within the fence without
   getting punished for it, [because] my sisters
   lived on the other side of the fence (Nuu-chah-nulth
   1996, 26).

Place, particularly place as gendered and segregated, functioned within residential school to separate families and erode familial ties, furthering the colonial goals of assimilating and transforming Aboriginal peoples.

The materiality of residential schools was also inherent to the propagation of Euro-colonial ideals about the Victorian domestic ideals, which were enacted and became entrenched through the curriculum and the structuring of place. Teaching and enforcing Euro-appropriate domestic skills, including keeping a clean house, cooking scheduled meals and performing as a dedicated wife and mother, were all part of a civilizing mission enforced on colonized subjects The Euro-colonial project in Canada had a specific vision of civilizing Aboriginal women. This vision included imaging Aboriginal women as embodiments of colonial femininity, inclusive of traits popularized through the cult of the domestic, arguably with an anticipated outcome of disrupting the cycle of Aboriginal culture (i.e., disrupting Aboriginal motherhood and mothering) and ultimately eliminating Indigeneity from a settler landscape (Adams 1995; Jago 1998).

Within the curricular policy document developed by the Oblate Fathers Indian and Eskimo Welfare Commission (1958) to address cross-Canada challenges in the residential school system, an entire section is devoted to vocational training for girls (home economics and household sciences). An imagination and vision of transforming Aboriginal girls into embodiments of Euro-colonial femininity is strikingly articulated:
   Throughout her contact with household science,
   the young girl discovers, by observation and practice,
   the secrets of sewing, knitting, and cooking.
   She is also taught to develop good habits and receives
   some training in the care of infants and sick
   people. This training should also teach her, apart
   from the practical knowledge necessary for the accomplishment
   of her daily duties, the love of the
   work she will be called upon to perform later in
   her own home (1958, 75).

The colonially envisioned future home of First Nations girls was a home consistent with Euro-colonial concepts of domestic space. The curricular ideology concerning home consequently focused on kitchens, dining rooms and sewing rooms all of which were reflected in the teaching environment of residential schools. Kitchens and dining halls, as well as sewing, washing and ironing rooms became the places where Euro-colonial ideals of femininity were constructed, enforced and rewarded within Indian Residential Schools in British Columbia. At St. Mary's Indian Residential School, girls were responsible for sewing their own clothing (always consistent with European and settler styles), for sewing boys clothing, for sewing school costumes and for making al] domestic materials including sheets and curtains (Glavin 2002). The same was true in the Kamloops Indian Residential School, where former student Janie Marchand recalls 'I used to make dresses and make underwear, you know, slips and vests and stuff like that for winter ... I learned how to sew, I learned how to crochet and I learned how to darn. I could darn socks really good' (Secwepemc 2000, 45). In St. Mary's, Kamloops and Williams Lake Indian Residential Schools, the girls' sewing was a means by which the schools could raise much needed operating funds (Furniss 1992). It also further differentiated boys from girls. At all three schools, sewing occurred in monitored spaces where a strict segregation of the sexes was enforced (boys were not allowed in sewing or washing rooms). Kitchens were also places where Euro-colonial imaginings and enforcement of femininity occurred. Like sewing and washing rooms, kitchens were a girl's domain (Nuu-chah-nulth 1996). Boys were prevented from entering them. Aboriginal girls were schooled in European culinary practices, were trained in colonial concepts of hygiene and, importantly, had enforced upon them concepts of servitude toward the colonial class (Hare and Barman 2006). When Euro-colonial femininity was acceptably performed by Aboriginal girls within scheduled places (these was scrutinized by female members of residential school staff) (Glavin 2003), girls were rewarded with authorization to partake in rituals that were also consistent with a domesticizing narrative. One such reward was to allow girls the privilege of preparing a meal and inviting fellow male students to eat it with them, thus allowing girls further opportunity to display newly learned manners and domestic etiquette (Adams 1995).

While Euro-colonial visions of domesticity and femininity were conceived and enforced within Indian residential school rooms, the visions were also inscribed upon the bodies of Aboriginal girls, notably through curriculum concerned with hygiene and health, fashion and behaviour. As a means of ensuring Aboriginal girls' bodies conformed to idealized concepts of femininity, girls were taught to properly wear hats and gloves, how to style their hair and how to appear appropriately modest and humble (Glavin 2003). In 'before and after' photographs of girls, 'savages' shed buckskin, feathers, robes and moccasins; the long black hair was shorn or bobbed or twisted into identical, 'manageable' styles; [and] pinafores, stiff starched collars, stockings and black oxfords [all] signified the 'new woman' (Lomawaima 1993, 229). Barbara Amos who attended Christie Indian Residential School testifies that 'another thing about Christie is the way they cut your hair. From what I remember, I didn't like it. 'Cause I had long hair when I went there [and] they cut my hair ... and it always had to be up here, short ... and we always had to have our hair curled' (Nuu-chah-nulth 1996, 64). Diane Sandy, a former student of Kamloops Indian Residential School, recalls that:
   dress was a tunic, a maroon colored tunic and
   you wore, either you got black bloomers or you
   got white ones, brown socks. That first week at
   school ... they put us in a line up and ... cut our
   hair short. So, most of our hairdos that first year
   was straight cut and bangs, and some of us had
   long hair. We all cried seeing all the hair being cut
   off, put in a big pile there. Very strict, very, very,
   strict (Sewepemc 2000).

The bodies of young First Nations women were sites where the material and the ideological converged, through fashion inscription, through teaching and curricular intent, and through the rooms in which the students were schooled. A multi-directional relationship between material, bodily, and experiential places must thus have existed in the colonial geographies of BC's residential schools. Recognizing the multi-directional nature of a relationship suggests that, just as the colonial project asserted itself onto and into Aboriginal students, so to did First Nations children respond to and alter the project that worked so hard to contain them.

In Place Resistances: Aboriginal Students Respond to British Columbias's Residential Schools

The goal of residential schooling was to eliminate Aboriginality from the Canadian landscape by assimilating and transforming of Aboriginal peoples. Colonial policy makers and educators on the front lines of 'Indian education' undertook efforts to implement this goal through deliberate and effective uses of place. Twelve years after the last residential school was closed in BC, however, Phil Fontaine, the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), observed of the residential schooling process that 'our lands were taken, our children brutalized and our languages, governments, religions, and ways of living stifled. But miraculously, we survived and here we are today, standing before you, strong and determined to reclaim our birthright in the Canadian Confederation' (Fontaine 1998, 2). How then, in the face of such focused efforts by Euro-colonialists, did First Nations ensure the failure of educational processes designed to eliminate them as peoples? More than twenty years ago, James Redford (1979-80) offered a succinctly simple observation about residential schooling in British Columbia: 'any relationship is a mutual and perpetually changing phenomenon; to examine the contributions of only one of its participants [the colonists] is to see not half a picture, but a gravely distorted image' (55-56). The image of colonialism's project in residential school was clear for First Nations students. Colonial teachers were actively attempting to inflict colonial education upon and into students. Steve Charleson, a former student, remembers clearly that 'they wanted to change us ... [because] it seemed like they hated us, you know, it seemed like we were always hated just for being [who] we were' (Nuu-chah-nulth 1996, 112). In spite of considerable pressure to behave otherwise, First Nations students asserted cultural sovereignty and strength. Students resisted through and within the very places designed to subordinate them and, additionally, students resisted with the intimate places into which colonialism was attempting so aggressively to insert itself: their bodies.

Evidence of First Nations students' rejection of residential schooling is attainable, in part, both through school records of student infractions and through stories articulated by former residential school students. At Coqualeetza Residential School in Chilliwack students' in-place struggles against colonial schooling resulted in an exhaustive list of punishable offences. The list suggests to just what lengths First Nations children would go in order both to combat their assimilative education and to actively transform their schooling environments. Everything from 'breaking bounds' to 'setting fire to the boy's dorm' and from 'pulling carrots' to 'breaking plaster' were listed as punishable offences along a spectrum from 'public reprimands' to 'lashes' and 'confinement/humiliation' (Woods 1996). First Nations students must have thus been active in responding to the materialized Euro-colonial parameters in which they were confined: they broke physical bounds meant to contain them and they burnt the buildings and rooms meant to impart upon students the dominance over them of a colonial project. In other words, students used the very places (residential schools) claimed by the colonial project in order to disrupt the material articulations of colonialism. Students also bodily resisted colonial education through 'offences' listed by Coqualeetza as 'talking Indian', 'playing in school', 'Indian dancing' and 'insolence'. When First Nations students spoke their Native tongues and danced in manners antithetical to the regulations of a residential school, they were deploying their bodies in physical defiance of colonialism's project in BC. They were, in effect, performing and asserting the simultaneous instantiations of resistance that every act of domination conjures (Scott 1990).

Former BC residential school students recall the very corporeal nature of their struggle against colonial education. Of her time at Alberni Residential School, Irma Bos remembers the school was 'a sad place to have gone, cause kids used to cry, cry at night ... and I remember that ... sometimes another girl would get into bed with whoever was crying' just to, to comfort them. And ahh, the supervisor used to come in and ... they'd [the comforters] get strapped or hit' (Nuu-chah-nulth 1996, 19). Irrespective of potential punishment for breaking school regulations about separation and segregation, First Nations students comforted one another in the face of isolation and loneliness: the very places (bodies) where Euro-colonial values were being most severely enforced were the same places First Nations students deployed in efforts to ward off the seclusion and solitude that their colonial environment constructed. Physical contact and connection between bodies was an assertion of personhood and a rejection of a system which viewed First Nations children's bodies as nothing more that permeable places within which colonialism would pervade. The tension between colonial values that reduced and dehumanized First Nations children and their subsequent use of body places to disrupt those values is evident in Clifford Atleo memories of his first day at Alberni Indian Residential school:
   I remember coming up here, the first day. Oh my,
   I remember the building, the fear knowing I was
   going to be left there ... the hollowness of the hallway,
   walking down to the office. I remember almost
   wanting to cry ... and receiving this number 486,
   forever to be my identification. 486. And the only
   thing that kept me from crying was [a friend] Edgar
   Charlie ... I could see him down in the playground,
   sitting on a flower bed ... all by himself. And he
   was crying and I couldn't wait to get out there
   and, well that's my friend. That's the only thing
   that kept me from crying, was my friend needed
   comfort (Nuu-chah-nulth 1996, 22).

Not only did First Nations children comfort each other and recognize each others' inherent humanity, they used their bodies to fight against those who hurt or assaulted them during educational processes. Robert Cootes recalls a galvanizing mobilization of First Nations students at Alberni Indian Residential School:
   All they did was discipline and beat kids, basically.
   [But] I learned that it's organized violence that
   could do it [stop student punishment]. Cause after
   that, everybody got organized, we had our riot, and
   you know. [Students] smashed every window in the
   school, beat on supervisors, and generally created
   havoc all around the place ... Half a day I guess ... It
   was the middle of winter, hey, when they eventually
   had their riot ... the school wouldn't repair it.
   It was cold, but none of the kids complained, everybody
   just hung tight. It was about two weeks,
   and they wouldn't put windows in the buildings,
   middle of winter ... But nobody complained ... None
   of the kids cried, everybody just hung together and
   they finally fixed it and things changed after that
   (Nuu-chah-nulth 1996, 157).

The bodies of First Nations students, bodies that colonial education policies so matter-of-factly asserted would be transformed and would have civility inject into them, were by no means passive or receptive sites. Instead, First Nations students deployed 'body-place(s)' to enact and perform opposition against colonial efforts. In effect, First Nations students' fight against the colonial project in BC became a corporeal fight against the physical articulations of the project, including the material places of BC residential schools and the colonial teachers and educators nested within the schools.

In addition to actively opposing the material constraints of residential schools in BC, First Nations students also used the sites to assert themselves and their Indigeneity. Language became a critical site of contestation between First Nations students and colonial educators. The fine arts also became a medium through which students could express aspects of themselves that the schools were otherwise intent on eliminating. In most discussions about residential schooling there is reference to the constant struggles between, on the one hand, colonial educators who insisted Aboriginal students speak only English and, on the other hand, Aboriginal students who were constantly engaged in efforts to speak their own languages (Sterling 1992; Fournier and Crey 1997; Smith 2001; Llewellyn 2002; Sangster 2002). Leslie Andrew, a student of St. Mary's Indian Residential School between 1939 and 1952, recalls 'I spoke some English when I arrived there, but didn't know very much at that time. We were not allowed to speak our Native language, and if we did, we would be hit ... One of our friends there used to translate for us because most of us didn't know or understand what they were talking about' (Glavin 2002, 37). Strategic adaptation to colonial demands were thus in place from the start of some students residential schooling experience, exemplifying the ability of First Nations children to construct hybridized responses to their needs. Another former student of St. Mary's, Rose Julian who attended between 1940 and 1949, testifies that 'At St. Mary's, some of the kids, especially the ones from Skookumchuck and Chemainus and Lillooet, spoke their own language. They spoke it, but they would get screamed at and stuff. You would have to speak English, then everyone knows what you are saying' (Glavin 2002, 56). Finally, Roland Lester of St. Mary's remembers that he did speak his language while in the school, a practice which would result in severe punishment: 'They told us not to use our language anymore, only English, all the time. If you got caught speaking your own language you would either get a strapping or not be given anything to eat for a while, and they had to stay up in a certain room where they were kept an eye on and could not [talk] to anyone' (Glavin 2002, 58). What these testimonies underscore is the concerted efforts made by students, independent of the repercussions, to use and defend their languages in BC. Although First Nations languages have, on the whole, been lost (a phenomenon many First Nations peoples attribute to the residential schooling processes) there is evidence that students fought to retain them, even within the places of residential schools.

The creative arts were another innovative manner in which First Nations students in BC's residential schools challenged colonial education. When, however, the creative arts were recognized as expressions of Indigeneity that challenged colonial authority, educators slotted the works into specific discursive frameworks that minimized the challenge of the expressions. Robert Cootes of the Nuu-chah-nulth Nations recalls the direct repression of the arts by educators, stating that 'they beat on us all the time for our own language and stuff [and] whenever we got any art work from home or beads or anything like that, they were pretty much confiscated' (Nuu-chah-nulth 1996, 142). Art then, like language, was a locus of cultural contestation which colonial educators understood as threatening to their agenda of First Nations assimilation and transformation. Conversely, however, by 1958, Oblate residential schooling policy makers developed a heightened interest in curricular 'handicrafts'. These crafts were encouraged because 'any programme which would provide a source of income for skilled craft-workers would appear to be worthwhile'. The nature of the products and the markets they could reach, however, were both carefully circumscribed: 'craftsmen must be careful in producing items that can be labeled "Traditional Indian Craft", and which when put for sale will not retail at prohibitive prices' (Oblate Fathers 1958, 77). In other words, the production of First Nations' souvenir items that would retail cheaply was to be encouraged, but the production of art that reflected a dynamic and vibrant culture, fully responsive to the world it encountered, was to be avoided. In BC's residential schools, then, Aboriginal arts which did not comply with a colonial construct of a 'dying or vanishing Indian', or which did not serve to support a non-Aboriginal aesthetical ideal, were understood by missionary teachers as dangerous.

Creative expression by students embodied the tension of, on the one hand, industrial arts and craft being thought of as teachable and beneficial within an agenda of cultural transformation (Chalmers 2000, 25) while, on the other hand, providing evidence that Indigeneity in Aboriginal students remained in spite of efforts to eliminate it. This tension did not deter First Nations students. As a former student of Kamloops Indian Residential School recalls, art production proved not only a comfort and refuge but also a means of maintaining cultural links:
   I cried a lot of times, crying alone, alone [but] I
   used to do a lot of art when I was in Indian school,
   I did a lot carvings ... My carving work, I did have
   it shown in a Gallery in town. I had my own show,
   which was really neat. I used to like reading a lot
   then, you know I'd get into the books, go to the
   library and get ideas from there. It was different
   Native works from around B.C. Back then there was
   not too many books on it and it was really hard to
   come by (Secwepemc 2000, 92)

The reclamation of imaginative place through the production of art was thus an assertion of Aboriginal identity in the face of colonial education efforts. In the case of this student, Euro-Canadian publication venues were subjugated to function in deference of Indigenous artistic traditions.

Students were not alone in their conceptualization of art and imaginative places as tensioned and multidimensional. For some colonial educators in BC's residential schools, the fine arts were complex and conflicted sites that were both pedagogically useful in teaching colonial agendas while simultaneously (and problematically from the perspective of a colonial educator) allowing First Nations students to articulate themselves culturally. The navigation of this tension is apparent in a publication produced through Cariboo (St. Joseph's) Indian Residential School in Williams Lake. On 11 June 1964, Gwen Ringwood wrote in her forward to the school publication My Heart Is Glad that the first aim of her residential school speech arts program was 'to increase [in First Nations students] competence and ease in the use of written and spoken English' (Cariboo Indian School 1964, n.p.). This aim was consistent with all residential schooling policy focused on assimilating First Nations students. In order to do this, however, Ringwood was aware that students would likely write and speak about 'things they know' (Cariboo Indian School 1965, n.p.). Consequently, the extensive collections of writings and drawings produced in My Heart Is Glad by First Nations students were contextualized by Ringwood and her colleagues as expressions of an already subordinated and almost eliminated people. In her 1964 introduction to the publication, Ringwood writes 'we hope each student will read the legends and stories at home and bring back to school next fall many new stories. Cariboo heritage of song, story and legend can easily be lost unless this generation makes an effort to conserve it' (n.p.). In 1965, Ringwood writes:
   We hope this book, along with the 1964 book, may be a start towards
   the collection of fragments of Indian lore, custom, and history,
   pertaining to the Shuswap, Carrier and Chilcotin tribes. This
   heritage, belonging not only to our students but to Canada, will be
   lost unless the young Indian treasures it (Caribou Indian School

At Cariboo Indian Residential School, imaginative places and the subsequent production of art provided First Nations students a means to create and transmit cultural products, even if those products were subsequently positioned by colonial educators as 'belonging' to the very colonial project that had made such effort to eliminate First Nations articulations. First Nations students' expression and imagination, then, illustrate the multi-directional, nested and intimate nature of the colonial project in BC's residential schools. Colonial educators were able, through their categorization and conceptualization of First Nations student art, to simultaneously understand themselves as reformers and saviours of Aboriginal peoples. The creative arts produced by First Nations students were also interpreted by colonial educators as emblematic of Aboriginal students becoming enfolded within colonial Canada. Just as the colonial project articulated itself in reference to artistic and creative places, however, the First Nations subjects who occupied and resisted residential schools utilized their imaginations to propel and articulate themselves outward and onto that which sought to assimilate them.

Just outside of Fraser Lake in northern British Columbia, a former student of Lejac Indian Residential School provides a compelling example of First Nations residential school students' production of creative arts and the subsequent conceptualization of those artistic practices within colonial considerations. Events surrounding the site are also illustrative of colonial ideals concerning femininity and of the means by which place continues to operate within the colonial narratives of BC. In April 2002, the British Columbian Catholic published a feature story about Rose Prince, born on 21 August 1915 of the Dakelh Nation (referred to commonly by the colonial name 'Carrier'). Prince lived most of her life at Lejac Indian Residential School, where she died at the age of 33 on 19 August 1949. Upon her death, Rose Prince was buried in Lejac's original cemetery. Three years later, when the cemetery was moved to its present location and Prince's body was exhumed, her remains were found to be perfectly intact. This incident, recognized by the Catholic Church as miraculous, was the event that first propelled Rose Prince into the public gaze, with an emphasis on possible beatification. According to the BC Catholic story, Rose Prince 'thrived as an artist creating simple paintings and working on beading and crochet projects' (Byrn 2002, n.p.). The descriptors of Prince are telling: she is constructed as 'working on' 'simple' woman's projects, thus relegating and confining her efforts to colonial acceptability. According to Bryn and other Catholic reporters (Van Dongen 2003), Prince was a quiet soul with a proclivity for artistic activities, including beading and crocheting, who led a quiet and unspectacular life of 'brave prayer' within the confines Lejac school. What is intriguing about the BC Catholic's 2002 (and subsequent) stories about Rose Prince is the way she is simultaneously constructed as an embodiment of colonial femininity and as an artisan, albeit an artisan constructed through very specific and minimizing language.

Prince is gaining international attention in part because she has come to represent precisely what the colonial education agenda desired of Aboriginal women. They were to be transformed into quiet, religious, and attentive subjects who would be assimilated into colonial Canada. That Rose Prince is also remembered (constructed) as an artist, however, is particularly intriguing given (as discussed previously) the contested and conflicted function of art within residential schools. Indeed, while Rose Prince is in the process of being claimed and considered for beatification by the Roman Catholic church, a process one might understand as posthumous assimilation by the colonial apparatus that strove so strongly to eliminate and assimilate First Nations peoples, her memory is also being strategically deployed by local First Nations peoples in their efforts to expand non-Aboriginal understandings about residential schooling and about Aboriginal cultures. One witnesses this strategic deployment during the Rose Prince Pilgrimage.

Every year during the first week of July, an annual Rose Prince Pilgrimage draws thousands of people from across Canada and from as far away as Europe. Pilgrims occupy the fields and former school grounds of Lejac Indian Residential School to support the nomination of Prince to sainthood. Although the school buildings no longer exist, the site resonates with material references to the school's presence, including remnants of Lejac's playground and the school's second cemetery where Rose Prince's grave is now situated. In addition to the material reminders of the school, the annual Rose Prince Pilgrimage operates as a forum for stories about the school, including the children and staff of the school. The pilgrimage also provides an opportunity for the church and the local dioceses to consider Rose Prince and the Carrier-Sekani Tribal Council holds healing ceremonies addressing residential schooling abuses. Finally, a number of local First Nations use the pilgrimage as an opportunity to sell arts, crafts and First Nations-produced foods. A single event and a specific site are thus constructed, reconstructed, and deployed for multiple purposes by multiple participants. Just as the various nested places of residential schools were historically used both as sites through which colonial subjects attempted to transform First Nations students and as sites in which First Nation students resisted colonization and asserted Indigeneity, so too is Lejac Indian Residential School today the place of ongoing dialoguing between First Nations people and the Catholic Church. The narratives of Rose Prince, like the nested places of BC's residential schools, are sites claimed and employed both by First Nations people and by a colonial apparatus that, for over 100 years, was invested through education in assimilating and transforming First Nations peoples in BC.

Rose Prince and Lejac Indian Residential school are situated within a growing discussion about the colonial project in British Columbia. While colonialism in British Columbia is certainly receiving increasing attention, little geographic notice has yet to focus on small or intimate places within the province's colonial project. The potential of understanding colonial practices through place-based inquiry is, I think, an exciting opportunity for geographers. Conceptualizing residential schools, and the subjects who occupied the schools, as nested places within larger social and spatial narratives is one method of furthering an understanding of how colonialism operated in British Columbia. What becomes evident through a nested place inquiry of British Columbia's residential schools is the relational nature of colonial policy, material sites and corporeal places. The relational and nested nature of these three entities insists on a multi-directional understanding of colonialism, thus also insisting that First Nations' voices and experiences be accounted for and listened to as efforts are made to consider the colonial project in British Columbia. Indeed, if understanding colonialism in British Columbia necessitates an investigation into where colonialism's practices were actualized, British Columbian residential schools would appear to be very important places to begin.


I cm thankful to the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council and the Secwepemc Cultural Education Society who, respectively, provided me copies of locally published testimonial literatures and access to their private archives. I am also thankful to staff and librarians at the Williams Lake Community Archives and the Archives of Deschatelets of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate for their willingness to grant me access to their collections. Both Anne Godlewska and Audrey Kobayashi have provided invaluable guidance and assistance, as have two anonymous reviewers. Mary and Dionys de Leeuw, Luke Eades, Emilie Cameron and David Fortin have all assisted, tremendously, in the development and writing of this article. This article evolved from a presentation given at the 2005 Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Association of Geographers in London, Ontario. I am thankful both to the organizers of that session, Laura Cameron and Caroline Desbiens, and to all those who provided feedback on that early draft. The research was made possible through Canada Graduate Scholarship funding provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).


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(1) Throughout this article, I use the terms indigenous and/or Aboriginal interchangeably in order to denote, inclusively, Canada's First Peoples, including First Nations, Inuit and Metis people. I use the term First Nations to denote peoples from specific Nations and, where applicable and/or possible, I use the names of those First Nations (i.e., Nuu-chah-nulth).

(2) A number of Indigenous scholars (Smith 1999; Castellano 2004; Schnarch 2004) have made compelling arguments concerning the problematics of non-Indigenous researchers conducting research on or about Indigenous peoples and issues. The difficulties are exceptionally acute, argue these scholars, when Indigenous peoples are asked to share stories and knowledge, particularly if it concerns traumatic events that illicit painful memories, which are then removed from the research subjects' control. Concurrent with my appreciation of these positions is my interest in Gayatri Spivak's question as to whether or not the subaltern can speak. By 'speaking' Spivak states she does not mean 'talking' but rather an engagement in 'a transaction between speaker and listener' (Spivak 1996: 289). My use of (primarily) First Nations published testimonial literatures concerning experiences in British Columbian residential schools is an attempt both to address my discomfort with research reliant on interviewing (and potentially re-traumatizing) people about their experiences in residential schools and also an attempt to ensure that the voices of those who experienced the colonial project in residential schools first hand are not just spoken voices, but are voices listened to in a processes of understanding colonialism in British Columbia.

(3) As I explore further on in the article, the concept of nested place (Malpas 1999) suggests a layering or imbrication of relationships within and between places of different scales. Divisions and boundaries blur, for instance, between private and public worlds. Places of multiple scales and sizes are understood not only to constitute each other, but to be inextricable from each other.

(4) A remarkable set of images illustrating this can be viewed in a collection and exhibition entitled Where Are the Children?: Healing the Legacy of Residential Schools which is distributed and supported by the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, the Legacy of Hope Foundation and the National Archives of Canada and the National Library of Canada.


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Author:De Leeuw, Sarah
Publication:The Canadian Geographer
Article Type:Author abstract
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Sep 22, 2007
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