Stories of Anishinaabe Resilience (SOAR) Project

The goal of the SOAR project was to increase awareness and commemorate the history and legacy of St. Joseph’s Residential School while also honouring residential school survivors, their families, and communities. This was a multi-faceted project.


Outcomes of the SOAR project include:

Research report: Stories of Anishinaabe Resilience
Written by: Sarah McPherson, HBa

A research assistant was hired to conduct research on the establishment, location and movement, policies and everyday goings-on, and the closure and tearing down of St. Joseph's Residential School, as well as testimonials and records of survivor experiences there. This research report includes archival resources held by the City of Thunder Bay, the Thunder Bay Museum, National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, Shingwauk Residential School, and Department of Indian/Aboriginal/Indigenous and Northern Affairs, as well as secondary source material online and at Lakehead University and Thunder Bay Public Libraries.


Secondary Level Education Curriculum
Developed by Johanna Mousseau-Krahn, BEd

A new unit plan focusing on the local St. Joseph's Residential School has been developed as part of the Thunder Bay Public Library's Stories of Anishinaabe Resilience (SOAR) Project.

The St. Joseph’s Residential School unit is cross curricular, and each lesson incorporates curriculum expectations from different curriculum between grades 9 and 12, including the First Nations, Metis, and Inuit Studies curriculum (2019), the English curriculum (2007), the Canadian World Studies curriculum (2018), the Arts curriculum (2010), and other curriculum that might not be explicitly addressed in the lesson plans.

The St. Joseph's Residential School Unit Plan comes complete with a Teacher's Guide, Student Workbook and Consolidation Card as well as corresponding PowerPoint presentations. To access the curriculum package, contact Robyn Medicine, Community Hub Librarian - Indigenous Relationships Supervisor via email or phone 684-6812.


Artwork Installation:

Several painted art pieces have been installed at the Brodie and Waverley Resource Libraries. Each piece commemorates and honours the survivors of St. Joseph's Residential School.

About the artists:

Quill Christie-Peters is an Anishinaabe arts programmer and self-taught visual artist currently residing in Northwestern Ontario. Her mural, “despite it all, we are all they can never have” depicts the beauty, wholeness and complexity of who we are as Anishinaabeg, despite the violence we have endured through residential schools. Find this mural at the Waverley Library.

Rufus Moonias Quisses is an emerging Oji-Cree artist from Neskantaga First Nation. His mural entitled, “Resilience”, “represents the resiliency of survivors from residential schools, group homes, foster homes, hospitals, and/or jails. Many Indigenous people lost a part of their identity at these places. This painting spreads awareness for our surviving children who became elders.” Find this mural at the Brodie Library.

Brian Michon is Anishinaabe originally from Fort William First Nation, and raised in Geraldton, Ontario. His mural entitled, “A Foundation of Hope” is set at Anemki Wajiw (also known as Thunder Mountain or Mount McKay) in Fort William First Nation, and includes residential school children and survivors and a brightly painted young fancy shawl dancer - she represents hope and resilience of our people. We can learn from the past and we can carry on as a people, building upon what we had gone through and not letting that hold us back. Find this mural on the Brodie Resource Library. Michon also painted three portraits of St. Joseph’s Residential School survivors — Morris Shapwaykeesic, Dolores Wawia and Doloris Skinner-Wanakamik. These can also be found at the Brodie Resource Library.



Survivors of St. Joseph's Residential School open up about their personal experiences at the school known as the "boarding school". Listen to their personal accounts in the Stories of Anishinaabe Resilience (SOAR) Podcast. This podcast will not be releasing new episodes until further notice. Check back for updates.


Contact Robyn Medicine, Community Hub Librarian - Indigenous Relationships Supervisor at 684-6812 / if you’d like more information.


Thank you to our partners & supporters:

ReImagining Value Action Lab (RiVAL)

Dr. Adar Charlton

Journalists for Human Rights

Fort William First Nation

City of Thunder Bay Indigenous Relations and Inclusion

Nishnawbe Aski Nation

Anishinabek Employment and Training Services

Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald

Sol Mamakwa (MPP, Kiiwetinoong)

Michael Dick (CBC Thunder Bay)

Lakehead Public Schools

Thunder Bay Catholic Schools


This project is being funded by Canada Heritage for Commemorating the History and Legacy of Residential Schools

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