Kay Nadjiwon Three Generations
2021, digital photo, 6”x7”
My great-grandfather went to Residential School and his daughter, my grandmother, went to Indian Day School. She married a French-Canadian man at the age of 18 and was enfranchised. As a result of these and many other life experiences of assimilation, my grandmother has lost so much of herself. Now, she is a Christian woman who hangs depictions of Jesus in her home, goes to church every Sunday, wears a rosary and prays at dinner. Although she has dementia, the self-hatred she carries never goes away. Assimilation was ingrained so deeply that not even this disease can make her forget. She will quite literally perform whiteness until her last breath.
My mother grew up in the French-Catholic church, ashamed of her identity because of how she was raised but tried to reconnect to her culture. She tried her best to give my brother and I the opportunity to experience more of our culture than what she had.
Niin, Nimaamaa, Nokomis (Me, Mother, Grandmother in Anishinaabemowin — what should have been my mother tongue) is an exploration of generational healing. Through portraits, personal and cultural items, spaces, scans of archival images and more I explore how we each are dis/connected from our Indigeneity.