Again on the question of Indigenous labour and settler colonialism: Alexandra Giancarlo, ‘Indigenous student labour and settler colonialism at Brandon Residential School’, The Canadian Geographer, 2020


Abstract: This paper contends that unfree Indigenous student labour at residential schools was a key—and underappreciated—component of settler colonialism in Canada. Colonial administration and the churches attempted to “civilize” and assimilate Indigenous people—and prepare the frontier for white settlers—through residential schooling. Labour, in accordance with Euro‐Canadian gender norms, was expected to usher Brandon Industrial Institute (later Brandon Residential School) students from the “backwardness” of traditional lifeways to the industriousness and assimilation necessary for their roles in the serving classes of modern society. I use archival sources—newspapers, unpublished reports, Department of Indian Affairs documents, and United Church correspondence and photographs—and employ a version of Norman et al.’s “settler‐colonial grid of recognizability” to examine student labour. This paper argues that the Department of Indian Affairs and church officials at Brandon Residential School sought to make Indigenous youth “legible” under the settler‐colonial grid of recognizability through agricultural and manual work for boys and domestic labour for girls, both of which ensured the school’s financial viability. I propose that this under‐explored aspect of settler colonialism could be understood through three main themes—imperial settler‐humanitarianism, the logic of containment, and productive bodies—that are traced across the lifetime of the school.

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