How I Survived
"How I Survived” is a research project initiated in 2018 by the NWT Recreation and Parks Association (NWTRPA) and Gwichyà Gwich’in historian Dr. Crystal Gail Fraser, and guided by a committee of Survivors and intergenerational Survivors.
The purpose of this project is to gather and share the stories of residential and day school Survivors about recreation. This project provides Survivors with an opportunity to share their experiences with the public and will also preserve their stories for future generations.
Note: This page contains photographs taken at residential and day schools in the NWT. We wrote about some of the ethical considerations of sharing photos from residential and day schools here.
Students at Lapointe Hall (Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę/Fort Simpson) playing pool, 1967.
Credit: NWT Archives/Sacred Heart Parish (Fort Simpson) fonds/N-1992-255: 0132
Students at Akaitcho Hall (Sǫ̀mba K’è/Yellowknife) playing hockey outside the residence, 1960-61
Credit: NWT Archives/Akaitcho Hall collection/N-2000-002: 0021
“How I Survived” celebrates the strength, resilience, spirit, and creativity of former students. We hope it will also provide a new way of understanding the history and legacy of residential and day schooling in the North and inspire forward-looking dialogue.
The purpose of this project is to gather and share the stories of residential and day school
Survivors about recreation. This project provides Survivors with an opportunity to share their
experiences with the public and will also preserve their stories for future generations.
To date, we have interviewed five Survivors about their experiences of recreation while at residential and/or day school. We would like to interview an additional five to seven people. We are approaching former students of different cultural backgrounds from different regions who attended different schools in the NWT. We are also working to have a balance of women and men, and people of different ages. In addition to interviewing Survivors, we are gathering historical documents including photographs, reports, and correspondence from residential schools and day schools across the territory.
The interviews and historical research will help us to understand how recreation was a part of the residential and day school experience, as well as the significance of recreation for former
students. We understand recreation to include a variety of creative, physical, social, and
intellectual activities including, but not limited to, music, the arts, sports, games, crafts, reading, and Boy Scouts and Girl Guides.
Girl Guides at All Saints School (Akłarvik/Aklavik), 1943.
Credit: NWT Archives/Archibald Fleming fonds/N-1979-050
“How I Survived” is guided by an advisory committee that includes former Grollier Hall studentand CBC journalist Paul Andrew (Shúhtaot’ı̨nę); elite cross-country skier and residential schoolSurvivor Dr. Sharon Anne Firth (Teetł’it Gwich’in); long-time teacher Lorna Storr from Akłarvik(Aklavik); and filmmaker and photographer Amos Scott (Tłı̨chǫ).
Following the release of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) in 2015, the NWTRPA made a commitment to advance truth and reconciliation by working in the spirit of the TRC. Reconciliation remains one of the NWTRPA’s strategic
priorities. The University of Alberta is a research-intensive university that is led by their strategic plan, For the Public Good. A part of this plan includes “listening, collecting, and collaborating with key partners across all sectors of society,” with the goal of disseminating research to all levels of community. It is in this spirit that we undertake this work.
Halloween at the Fort Smith Federal Day School, 1953.
Credit: NWT Archives©/Northwest Territories. Department of Education, Culture and Employment/G-1999-088;
This project has received funding from the NWT and Nunavut Lotteries, the Government of
Canada, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.
For more information about this project, please contact the project co-leads, Jess Dunkin
at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Dr. Crystal Fraser at email@example.com.
If you are a Survivor or intergenerational Survivor of a residential or day school and are having a
a difficult time, you may find information in this pamphlet helpful.
Boys playing pool at Lapointe Hall in Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę (Fort Simpson), 1967. Credit: NWT
Archives/Sacred Heart Parish (Fort Simpson)/N-1992-255: 0132.
Students at Akaitcho Hall (Sǫ̀mba K’è Yellowknife) playing hockey outside the residence, 1960-
61. Credit: NWT Archives/Akaitcho Hall collection/N-2000-002: 0021.
Girl Guides at All Saints School in Akłarvik (Aklavik), 1943. Credit: NWT Archives/Archibald
Fleming fonds/N-1979-050: 0096.
Halloween at the Fort Smith Federal Day School in Tthebacha (Fort Smith), 1953. Credit: NWT
Archives©/Northwest Territories. Department of Education, Culture and Employment/G-1999-