NISHGA is a deeply personal and autobiographical book that attempts to address the complications of contemporary Indigenous existence. As a Nisga’a writer, I often find myself in a position where I am asked to explain my relationship to Nisga’a language, Nisga’a community, and Nisga’a cultural knowledge. However, as an intergenerational survivor of residential school—both my grandparents attended the same residential school in Chilliwack, British Columbia—my relationship to Indigenous identity is complicated to say the least. NISHGA explores those complications and is invested in understanding how the colonial violence originating at the Coqualeetza Indian Residential School impacted my grandparent’s generation, my father’s generation, and ultimately my own generation. The project is rooted in a desire to illuminate the realities of intergenerational survivors of residential school, but sheds light on Indigenous experiences that may not seem to be immediately (or inherently) Indigenous. Drawing on autobiography, a series of interconnected documents (including pieces of memoir, transcriptions of talks, and photography), NISHGA is a book about confronting difficult truths. NISHGA is also about how both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples engage with a history of colonial violence that is quite often rendered invisible.
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