This website is a collaborative effort by Garnet Angeconeb and Ashley Wright. They are friends and colleagues who have known each other since 1989.
Garnet Angeconeb is an Anishnaabe man from the Lac Seul First Nation in Northern Ontario. He grew up on his family’s traditional territory, until the age of seven, when he was forced by the Government of Canada to go to Pelican Indian Residential School. Garnet suffered many negative effects of government policies in the decades following his years at the school. Despite those personal hardships, he became a journalist, a community leader, and a respected elder in both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities. The stories on the pages of this website belong to Garnet; they represent his journey from residential school to reconciliation, and his unrivalled courage in sharing his life story with all Canadians.
Garnet is a natural communicator and a born leader. At a time when nobody was acknowledging the horrors of the residential school system, Garnet stood up to the institutions that allowed crimes to be committed against him and other Aboriginal children. Every single video segment on this website lays bare his strength of character, through his openness, honesty, and integrity. Remarkably, and despite his experiences in this country, Garnet channeled his pain and anger into a strong voice; a voice that he uses today to call for social justice. By telling his story on this website, Garnet hopes to bring others along on his journey toward reconciliation.
In the last decade or so, Garnet was diagnosed with Kennedy’s Disease, a neurological muscular degenerative disorder which has confined him to a wheelchair. It affects his energy level as well as his speech, and results in extreme fatigue at times. Challenges of this nature, however, have never slowed Garnet down in his work as a bridge-builder between cultures: He was Sioux Lookout’s first Anishinaabe municipal councillor; he is a founding member of the Sioux Lookout Anti-Racism Committee; he was a board member of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation; and he is a Recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Award (2002) and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award (2012). Most recently (December 2012), Garnet was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada for voluntary service.
Ashley Wright is a journalist who has worked for CBC Radio in many parts of Canada, including Halifax, Charlottetown, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, and Ottawa. She and Garnet became friends the day they met at CBQ in Thunder Bay in 1989. Ashley has covered many stories from First Nations communities over the years, bringing listeners voices that had not been heard before. She has taught journalism at Algonquin College and Carleton University.
In this project, Ashley explores the intersection of oral history and journalism, in an effort to allow Garnet to tell his story as he wants it told. Ashley filmed interviews with Garnet over a period of one year (2011-12), blending journalistic and oral history principles and interview techniques. The collaborative effort is reflected in the final product. For example, you’ll notice the interview topics are presented in chronological order; they’re longer than you’d see in mainstream media (the segments run between one and eight minutes); there are very few edits and/or production enhancements within the segments; and there’s a lot of self-reflection by Garnet, the narrator, with minimal interjections by Ashley, the interviewer. The result is a combination of oral history and journalism that we hope will contribute to the national conversation about this part of all Canadians’ shared history. We believe through education comes understanding; and through understanding comes a peaceful, shared future.