T’aih k’ìighe’ tth’aih zhit dìidìch’ùh (By Strength, We Are Still Here): Indigenous Northerners Confronting Hierarchies of Power at Day and Residential Schools in Nanhkak Thak (the Inuvik Region, Northwest Territories), 1959 to 1982

  • Author / Creator
    Crystal Gail Fraser
  • Through archival sources, interviews, and my own experience as the daughter and grandaughter of Gwichyà Gwich’in women who were institutionalized in Inuuvik and Aklavik, I explore the uniquely northern experience of Indigenous children who were consigned to Inuuvik’s Indian Residential Schools – Grollier and Stringer Halls – from 1959 until nearly the close of the twentieth century. There was a discernable change in education policies with responsibility over schooling shifting away from the churches to first the federal and then the territorial government. In this ‘modern’ context, the same coercive policies that were designed to remove Indigenous peoples from their lands, eliminate their sovereignty, and assimilate them into the broader Canadian settler-society remained. My training in both History and Indigenous Studies allowed me to draw upon new methods to investigate how children were embedded in this colonial framework experienced student life by exploring topics like bodies, health, hygiene, sports, and sexual violence. The resistance and activism of Indigenous parents and children were foundational to the survival of the students and our cultures.
    Resisting damage-centered research, I combine Foucault's understanding of carceral institutions and the strategic reversability of power, Eve Tuck's desire-centered research, and Dinjii Zhuh concepts of strength (t’aih, vit’aih, and guut’àii) to add sophistication and refinement to how we understand the experiences of Indigenous youngsters who were institutionalized in these “carceral spaces.” I further the conversation about the history of Indian Residential Schools in Canada and present untold and complex narratives of students who attended these schools in the North. Despite recent scholarship, there are few histories of colonial trauma, and even fewer that are told from a northern Indigenous perspective. This dissertation makes Indigenous voices central to the analysis and gives Indigenous peoples the opportunity to speak for themselves.

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  • Graduation date
    Fall 2019
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
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