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Children ‘re-educated’

Thomas Moore Keesick was eight years old when he was taken from his parents and placed in Regina Indian Industrial School. The teachers called him Number 22, because he was the 22nd pupil enrolled at the school.

Thomas was a First Nations child, and the photos of him were taken a few years apart by the government’s ‘Office for Indian Affairs’ to advertise residential schools. They wanted to show that they could ‘re-educate’ Indigenous children, so they would be like children with a European background.

On the left, Thomas has plaits and wears traditional regalia. The photographer has put a pistol in his hand, to make Thomas look wild and dangerous. On the right, he has slicked down hair and wears a school uniform.

After a few years, Thomas developed tuberculosis, a dangerous lung condition that infected tens of thousands of children in residential schools. He was sent home to die, at the age of just 12.

TEXT: Carmilla Floyd
PHOTO: Saskatchewan Archives Board

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