Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Dr. Janice Forsyth


Existing literature on residential schools in Canada indicates that sports played an important role within that system and were a positive experience for Aboriginal students. However, these sporting experiences have not been analyzed from the students’ perspectives. This thesis aims to enrich our understanding of the role of sports within residential schools; the meanings former students attached to their experiences, and what sports mean to reconciliation initiatives using 1) narrative analysis of media representations of the Black Hawks team from Pelican Lake Indian Residential School during their 1951 hockey tour to Ottawa and Toronto, 2) a two-part interview process (photo elicitation and semi-structured interview) with those players. While sports were introduced for assimilative reasons, a purpose that was reinforced by media, this study shows that Aboriginal students created meanings out of their experiences that opposed those assumptions and resembled forms of resistance. Through these new meanings, students sought refuge in sports in the hostile living environment they experienced at school.