SAULT STE. MARIE, ON—As an exciting next step in the ongoing efforts of Algoma University to increase understanding of the Residential School experience, the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre has been granted funding from the Virtual Exhibits Investment Program of the Virtual Museum of Canada (VMC) at the Canadian Museum of History in the amount of $248,000 for the project entitled “Virtually Reclaiming Shingwauk Hall”.
Uniquely located on the site of the former Shingwauk Residential School, the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre (SRSC) at Algoma University is taking up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s (TRC) call for community-engaged heritage work by making the story of Residential Schools more broadly accessible. This important truth-telling work is being done in partnership with the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association.
The vast majority of the over 130 Residential Schools which existed across Canada no longer have a physical footprint, with no remaining intact structures. The Shingwauk site is unique, in that it is the only former Residential School building in Canada to house a University. ’Virtually Reclaiming Shingwauk Hall’ will teach youth ages 12 to 18 about the Canadian Residential School System, colonialism, and Survivor resilience.
“The legacy and impact of Residential Schools will offer youth the unique opportunity to be immersed in the Shingwauk and Wawanosh Residential School site – from the banks of the St. Mary’s River where students arrived in Sault Ste. Marie, to the Shingwauk Hall building where students worked, ate, and slept while attending Residential School,” explained SRSC Researcher/Curator Krista McCracken. “Through the overlay of contemporary spaces and historical images, as well as oral testimonies from Survivors, youth will be able to learn about the transformation of the Shingwauk site from farmland, to a Residential School, to a University space and site of reconciliation.”
The Shingwauk site also includes a cemetery, a Chapel from 1883 which was built by Residential School students, and numerous commemorative monuments. By including these structures in the 360-degree virtual tour, students will learn about daily life at Residential Schools, living conditions at the Schools, the half-day work system which existed at many schools, and the Church/Government relationship which funded and administered the Schools.
“This next phase of development of the overall Reclaiming Shingwauk Hall project continues our efforts as a leader in educating the national audience about this important part of Canadian history,” shared President and Vice-Chancellor of Algoma University Asima Vezina. “This new virtual tour will vastly exceed our present reach, surpassing the limits we’ve encountered in our abilities to both show and tell the history of the site. I am truly thrilled about this project and cannot wait to see the final result.”