Unforgotten – My Journey Home explores the power of images in relation to memory, history, and ancestry. This visual story traces history back to Dawna Mueller’s ancestral roots in rural Manitoba. A child of the “Sixties Scoop,” Mueller was taken from her Métis/Anishinaabe mother at birth and placed in a Ukrainian family. It was only as an adult that Mueller discovered her Indigenous roots, and she has spent the last few years on a personal reclamation journey into her Indigeneity.
The Sixties Scoop refers to a series of government policies from the 1950s and ’60s whereby tens of thousands of Indigenous babies and children were taken from their birth mothers and adopted out or sold to non-Indigenous families across Canada and the United States. The Sixties Scoop, along with the residential school system, were part of the Federal Government’s attempt at the annihilation of Canada’s Indigenous peoples. The 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report brought this topic to the forefront of social, political, and legal discussion in Canada, and Unforgotten – My Journey Home is a personal narrative contextualizing a component of this abhorrent segment in Canadian history.
Unforgotten – My Journey Home is a solo exhibition composed of large-format, analogue, multiple-exposure, black-and-white photographs combining memory, history, and place. Mueller relies on the Indigenous tradition of oral history and storytelling to connect with her ancestry, creating a post-conceptual visual narrative that expresses the liminal space of bridging two cultures and finding her way back home.