Location: Birtle Residential School, Birtle, Manitoba
Digital / 2014 - 2019
The Residential school system existed from 1831 until 1997. Setup by the Canadian government with the intention of integrating the Native population into western society, children were separated from their families and forced to live at these institutes. In 1876, the Indian Act required all indigenous children to attend residential school. There, the children faced unhealthy living conditions, malnourishment and several forms of abuse. These conditions lead to the estimated deaths of 6000 students, as well as lifelong trauma for the 80,000 living survivors. However, the real numbers are unknown and are estimated to be significantly higher.
This particular site, The Birtle Residential School, opened in 1894. The school closed its doors in 1972 and has since been sold several times. Currently it is privately owned and the landowner is attempting to preserve what is left of the site so the public may visit this historic piece of Canada.
My intention in documenting this space is to give the viewer a visual entry to understanding of Canada’s history.