For more than a century, Canada operated a network of Indian residential schools to forcibly assimilate Indigenous youth into white Canadian society. These are the survivors.
Featuring: Daniella Zalcman
Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting
For more than a century, the Canadian government operated a network of Indian residential schools that were meant to assimilate young indigenous students into western Canadian culture. Indian agents would take children, as young as two or three years old, from their homes and send them to church-run boarding schools where they were punished for speaking their native languages or observing any indigenous traditions. They were sexually and physically assaulted routinely, and in some extreme instances, subjected to medical experimentation and sterilization.
The last residential school closed in 1996. The Canadian government issued its first formal apology in 2008.
Generations of Canada’s First Nations forgot who they were. Languages died out, sacred ceremonies were criminalized and suppressed. These double exposure portraits explore the trauma of some of the 80,000 living survivors who remain. Through extensive accompanying interviews, they address the impact of intergenerational trauma and lateral violence, documenting the slow path toward healing.
Daniella Zalcman is a documentary photographer based in London and New York. She is a multiple grantee of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, a fellow with the International Women’s Media Foundation and a member of Boreal Collective.
Her work tends to focus on the legacies of western colonization, from the rise of homophobia in East Africa to the forced assimilation education of indigenous children in North America. She won the 2016 FotoEvidence book award for her project Signs of Your Identity, which will be released this fall.
Daniella’s work regularly appears in The Wall Street Journal, Mashable, National Geographic and CNN, among others. Her photos have been exhibited internationally and select projects are represented by LUMAS and Subject Matter. She graduated from Columbia University with a degree in architecture in 2009.
The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting is an innovative award-winning non-profit journalism organization dedicated to supporting the independent international journalism that U.S. media organizations are increasingly less able to undertake. The Center supports journalists to cover under-reported topics, promoting high-quality international reporting and creating platforms that reach broad and diverse audiences, including education programs to reach students of all ages.
When Joseph Pulitzer III became editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch a half-century ago, he said, “Not only will we report the day’s news, but we will illuminate dark places and, with a deep sense of responsibility, interpret these troubled times.” In keeping with its deep ties to the Pulitzer family’s legacy of journalistic independence, integrity and courage, that same mission and deep sense of responsibility drives the Pulitzer Center, in times just as troubled.