Prior to the 1990s, open talk about children’s experiences at Indian residential schools was an exceptionally rare occurrence. The silence surrounding the legacy of residential schools was broken, however, in 1991. With an entire nation watching and listening, national Aboriginal leader Phil Fontaine took a courageous first step forward and called attention to the abuses he endured while attending residential school. This brave and powerful public disclosure proved to be an epic revelation that would forever change the course of history for First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples in Canada.
The ripple effects of the residential school system are being felt by present generations of Aboriginal peoples. While knowledge about the effects of residential schools on survivors is mounting, little is known about the intergenerational effects of the schools on children and grandchildren of survivors (Stout and Peters, 2011).
These digital storytelling project guides were developed in response to an identified need to explore the intergenerational effects of residential schools on children of survivors. They are intended to show First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples and communities how to conduct digital storytelling projects with children of residential school survivors.
These guides are grounded in the belief that digital storytelling can be a profoundly healing process. They are meant to be used for digital storytelling projects involving small groups of participants.
While the aim of these guides is to provide children of survivors with a forum in which to share their experiences and tell their stories about the legacy and intergenerational effects of residential schools, they may be adapted and used for projects involving residential school survivors.
“With our first project, it was never the intent that we would be out there in the world, sharing our stories. The intent was to get together and understand, ‘How have we been affected by residential schools?’ And then we collectively decided, let’s share this.”
The information contained in these guides was adapted and compiled from the research proposals, final reports, project notes and presentation documents from the three digital storytelling projects that explored the intergenerational effects of residential schools. It includes quotes and insightful considerations from the women and men who participated in their respective digital storytelling projects, and then gathered as a group when the projects had ended, to talk about their lessons learned and reflect upon their digital storytelling journeys. The results of this discussion, along with the many conversations that took place in and around the different chapters of each of the projects over the past three years helped to formulate the subject matter and organization of these guides.