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Daniella Zalcman Examines Identity During American University Visit

Event Date:

October 22, 2017 | 4:00 PM EDT TO 5:30 PM EDT


American University School of Communication
4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Media Innovation Lab (MIL), McKinley Room 100

Washington, DC 20016

MIKE PINAY, Qu’Appelle Indian Residential School (1953-1963).“It was the worst 10 years of my life. I was away from my family from the age of six to 16. How do you learn about family? I didn’t know what love was. We weren’t even known by names back then. I was a number.” Image by Daniella Zalcman. Canada, 2015.

For more than a century, many Western governments operated a network of Indian Residential Schools...

Mike Pinay
For her project 'Signs of Your Identity,' photographer Daniella Zalcman juxtaposed her subjects against the former residential schools they once attended in Saskatchewan. In 2008, the Canadian government apologized for the residential school system, which a commission officially labeled 'cultural genocide' last year. 'It was the worst 10 years of my life,' said Mike Pinay, pictured against the residential school he attended from 1953 to 1963. 'I was away from my family from the age of 6 to 16. How do you learn about family? I didn't know what love was. We weren't even known by names back then. I was a number.' Image by Daniella Zalcman. Canada, 2015.

Join us for a discussion with photographer Daniella Zalcman on how efforts to assimilate indigenous people led to a revitalization of First Nations culture in Canada, and also how the Ugandan LGBT-rights movement continues the battle against legislation intended to curtail their civil rights.

The event will take place at American University in the Media Innovation Lab, McKinley Room 100 on Sunday, October 22, 2017. Kayla Sharpe, Pulitzer Center campus consortium coordinator, will join Zalcman for the visit. American University is a partner with the Pulitzer Center Campus Consortium network.

In the late 19th century, Canada opened a residential school program designed to force indigenous children to assimilate into western culture. They were taught English and punished when spoke in their native language. During their time there, children were often subject to physical and emotional abuse. 

Pulitzer Center grantee and award-winning documentary photographer, Daniella Zalcman traveled to Canada to speak with the survivors of this traumatic experience. After returning from her first trip, Zalcman felt that her photos were incomplete. Although she had captured the reality of indigenous communities in Canada, her approach changed when she began to explore the idea of photographing a memory.

Through speaking with survivors, Zalcman found that many were struggling with drug addiction caused by the events of their past. She also found that the use of native languages had resurfaced, and a new generation of indigenous people was being taught their true culture. Her photos show the raw emotion, providing a window into how indigenous people identify themselves.

Zalcman also reported on the struggles in Uganda's LGBT communities. In 2014, Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Fear of the legislation caused Uganda's LGBT community to flee their country and seek asylum in neighboring countries. LGBT activists are concerned the bill is meant to target members of the community, but the ones who stay are willing to fight for their equal rights. 

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Migration and Refugees

Migration and Refugees
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LGBTQ+ Rights

LGBTQ+ Rights