Vous consultez une page Web conservée, recueillie par Bibliothèque et Archives Canada le 2007-05-16 à 15:30:18. Il se peut que les informations sur cette page Web soient obsolètes, et que les liens hypertextes externes, les formulaires web, les boîtes de recherche et les éléments technologiques dynamiques ne fonctionnent pas. Voir toutes les versions de cette page conservée.
Chargement des informations sur les médias

You are viewing a preserved web page, collected by Library and Archives Canada on 2007-05-16 at 15:30:18. The information on this web page may be out of date and external links, forms, search boxes and dynamic technology elements may not function. See all versions of this preserved page.
Loading media information
Skip navigation links (access key: Z)Library and Archives Canada - Bibliothèque et Archives Canada Canada
Graphical element Home > Art and Photography > Framing Canada Français
Graphical element
Banner: Framing Canada: A Photographic Memory

Aboriginal Peoples

Graphical elementSearch DatabaseGraphical element
Photograph of female and male Aboriginal students, nuns and two men outside an Indian residential school, circa 1890Larger image

Indian residential school students and nuns
Location unknown, ca. 1890
Photographer: H.J. Woodside
PA-123707 (source)

Photography has been an active participant in the complicated relationship between the dominant Canadian culture and Aboriginal peoples. Photography's dual role, as both documentary instrument and art form, has led to the creation and perpetuation of some of the most lasting stereotypes. It is hoped that through contemporary eyes, these images will be questioned and perhaps recontextualized.

Photographers have sought opportunities to document the world's people and geography since the birth of photographic technology. Armed with the task of recording, photographers were along for the journey as Canada's geography was explored -- whether by sea, as with some of the earliest images of Atlantic Canada and the Mi'kmaq people taken by French officer Paul-Émile Miot; or by land, such as the expedition photographs of the Assiniboine and Saskatchewan by Humphrey Lloyd Hime.

In tandem with the ethnographic applications of their medium, photographers were aware of its aesthetic powers in creating a record of those people they believed to be part of a "vanishing race." American photographer Edward S. Curtis created one of the largest initiatives of this type, the series entitled The North American Indian. Consisting of over 20 volumes of photogravures and accompanying text, the project contains portraits of individuals as well as views of daily life, taken in Aboriginal communities west of the Mississippi, on the Canadian west coast and in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions.

One of the darkest periods in Canada's relationship with Aboriginal peoples occurred when thousands of Aboriginal children were taken from their families and made to attend residential schools as part of a government initiative of forced assimilation into mainstream culture. The profound effects of this tragedy continue to the present day. The photographs of children in front of rural schoolhouses or posed in "before" and "after" portraits (showing their transformation from traditional clothing and hairstyles to Euro-Canadian attire) are some of the most tragic images in Library and Archives Canada's collection.

While it is clear that this period in the history of photography attests to some of the darkest moments for Aboriginal peoples, it likewise commemorates individuals and occasions worthy of celebration and pride. Among many others, the collection contains portraits of Gabriel Dumont and Louis Riel, Métis leaders of the Northwest Rebellion of 1885; Pauline Johnson, recognized as one of the first Aboriginal poets in Canada; and Tom Longboat, one of Canada's greatest athletes.

Graphical element

Culture and
Ways of Life

Photograph of a man paddling a kayak off the coast of Greenland, 1889

The North American Indian
by Edward S. Curtis

Photograph of a Hesquiaht woman from the Central Nootka tribe, British Columbia, 1916

Assimilation and Control
of Home

Photograph of an Aboriginal man standing in a graveyard, Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan, circa 1885

The Idea of Agency

Photograph of a man, kneeling, in traditional clothing portraying a 17th-century Aboriginal man watching the approach of Champlain from atop a cliff, Québec, 1908

Objects of Curiosity

Photograph, entitled CANADIAN PATRIOTIC INDIAN CHIEFS, of six Aboriginal men dressed in traditional clothing, riding in a car, Saskatchewan, circa 1915

Dignity and Pride

Photograph of a thirteen-member Mohawk lacrosse team from Kahná:wake, 1869
Graphical element

Graphical element