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Into the Light began as an archival research project in 2018. Our project expanded into an exhibition of stories and artifacts called “Into the Light: Eugenics and Education in Southern Ontario” at Guelph Civic Museum between September 2019 to March 2020.1(footnote) We documented the exhibition and our co-creation process in a documentary of the same name. Now the project lives as an online open access learning source. For more information about Into the Light projects, please explore the sources below.

Museum Exhibition

Into the Light: Eugenics and Education in Southern Ontario

The exhibition was featured at the Guelph Civic Museum from September 14, 2019 to March 1, 2020. It won the 2020 Lieutenant-Governor’s Ontario Award for Conservation Excellence.

Into the Light: Eugenics and Education in Southern Ontario examined local histories and ongoing legacies of racial “betterment” thinking in Southern Ontario that de-humanized and disappeared those who did not fit the normative middle-class lives of white, able-bodied settlers.

Eugenics (race improvement through heredity) was taught and practiced in Southern Ontario in the early to mid-twentieth century. Macdonald Institute and the Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph played a key role in the eugenics movement. They advanced destructive ideas that targeted First Nations, Black, and other racialized populations, as well as poor and disabled people. Eugenics has left a legacy of segregation in institutions, cultural assimilation and sterilization that continues today.

Into the Light was co-curated by Mona Stonefish, Peter Park, Dolleen Tisawii’ashii Manning, Evadne Kelly, Seika Boye and Sky Stonefish. Collectively, they work to prevent institutional brutality, colonialism, ableism, and social injustice.

This exhibition combined stories with artistic, sensory, and material expressions of memory. The goal was to bring the hidden history of eugenics, and stories of survival, out of the shadows and into the light.

The exhibition was generously supported by collaborators Carla Rice, Dawn Owen, Sue Hutton, and Aaron Kelly. It was co-funded by Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology, and Access to Life (Carla Rice, PI), through a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Partnership Grant at the University of Guelph, and Guelph Civic Museum. The exhibition was also generously supported by ARCH Disability Law Centre and Respecting Rights (a project at ARCH).

Museum Exhibition Reference

Stonefish, Mona, Peter Park, Dolleen Tisawii’ashii Manning, Evadne Kelly, Seika Boye, and Sky Stonefish. “Into the Light: Eugenics and Education in Southern Ontario.” Museum Exhibition, Guelph Civic Museum, Guelph, ON, September 14, 2019.

The poster for Into the Light: Eugenics and Education in Southern Ontario was created by Lindsay Fisher. An enlargement of this poster was placed at the entrance of the exhibition room. The front of the poster is on the left. The back of the poster is on the right.

  1. For more on the archival research, the exhibition, and the co-creation process, read the following publications: Evadne Kelly and Carla Rice, “Universities Grappling with Racist and Oppressive Pasts Need to Share Their Archives,” The Conversation, 2020, (Source); Evadne Kelly, Dolleen Tisawii'ashii Manning, Seika Boye, Carla Rice, Dawn Owen, Sky Stonefish, Mona Stonefish, “Elements of a Counter‐exhibition: Excavating and Countering a Canadian History and Legacy of Eugenics,” Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, January 25, 2021, (Source); Evadne Kelly, Seika Boye, and Carla Rice, “Projecting Eugenics and Performing Knowledges,” in Narrative Art and the Politics of Health, ed. Neil Brooks and Sarah Blanchette (London; New York: Anthem Press, 2021); Mona Stonefish, Carla Rice, Sue Hutton, Evadne Kelly, and Seika Boye, “Building Solidarity in Celebrating Difference,” ARCH Alert 20, no. 3 (2019): 4.