Daniella Zalcman: Signs of Your Identity

6 - 31 May 2017

In conjunction with Canada’s sesquicentennial, Nikola Rukaj Gallery presents Signs of Your Identity: a black and white photographic series by photojournalist, Daniella Zalcman, who visited various locations in Saskatchewan and interviewed a number of survivors of Canada’s Indian residential schools. Zalcman’s unique series of portraits are presented using double exposure to contrast the harsh memories of some of the 80,000 living survivors, while showing impact of intergenerational trauma, lateral violence, and documenting the slow path toward healing.


For 120 years, the Canadian government operated networks of residential schools that were meant to assimilate young Indigenous students into Western Canadian culture. Children as young as two or three were taken from their homes and sent to church-run boarding schools. There, they were punished for speaking their native languages or observing any Indigenous traditions, routinely sexually and physically assaulted, and in some extreme instances subjected to medical experimentation and sterilization. Generations of Canada’s First Nations forgot who they were, languages died out, and sacred ceremonies were criminalized and suppressed. The last residential school closed in 1996, and the Canadian government issued its first formal apology in 2008.


Daniella Zalcman is a documentary photographer based between London and New York. She is a multiple grantee of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, a fellow with the International Women's Media Foundation, and a member of Boreal Collective. Zalcman’s work tends to focus on the legacies of western colonization. She won the 2016 FotoEvidence Book Award, the Magnum Foundation's Inge Morath Award, and the Magenta Foundation's Bright Spark Award for her project Signs of Your Identity. Zalcman’s work regularly appears in The Wall Street JournalMashableNational Geographic, and CNN, among others. Her photos have been exhibited internationally.