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Leila's Desk

Leila’s Desk, 2013

Vintage 1930s school desk (wood, metal), vintage Lifebuoy soap, copper leaf




Until the early 1940s, under mandate of the Indian Act, Indigenous people could only attend a residential or Indian day school and only up to the eighth grade. However, my grandmother was one of the first Indigenous people to be allowed to attend high school.

On her first day, excited and nervous about her newly granted rights, she was confronted with an instance of racism that haunted all her life. Her pride turned to shame, faced with being nothing more than a dirty Indian.