Phil Hossack

Former residential school student Margaret Clearsky breaks down when recalling her experience at the Birtle School in Sandy Bay, Manitoba. Teachers singled her out for ridicule and forced her to wear soiled underwear on her head, a standard punishment at the schools for bedwetting.
Photographer Phil Hossack and reporter Alexandra Paul teamed up from 2006 to 2011 to produce a series of in-depth articles for the Winnipeg Free Press about Indian residential schools. In October 2006, a few months before final court approval of a $1.9 billion compensation settlement, the paper published the first articles as a special section, entitled Aboriginal Apartheid. It challenged the accepted history of Indian residential schools in Manitoba as institutions with a benevolent legacy and offered readers a look at the sinister side of the schools.
Elderly survivors, many of whom had never told their stories before in public, disclosed the abuses they suffered and the discrimination they faced on a daily basis. This photo of Margaret is from that reportage.
Faced with this documented and unvarnished version of the schools that they had once heavily supported, Manitobans responded with compassion for the victims and condemnation of the institutions that had caused so much pain.

Born in Winnipeg and raised in rural Manitoba, Phil Hossack studied photography at Ryerson University in Toronto before returning to his native province. Learning the newspaper business as a staff photographer at the Brandon Sun in the late 1970’s, Phil moved on to the Winnipeg Free Press in 1983 and has been an integral part of the staff there for the past thirty years. He covered events ranging from Olympic Games to a Coup attempt against Boris Yeltsin’s Russian Government in 1993 as well as providing compelling daily images for local news sports and feature pages in the paper.
His freelance work has been for wide ranging clients: Wire Services as well as papers and magazines world-wide.
Honored by peers over the years Phil has received awards from The Canadian Press, The Western Canada News Photographers Association and the NPAC and NPPA picture of the year awards. He has been nominated for a National Newspaper Award twice, most recently for multimedia work done in Nicaragua following a surgical team to Managua from Winnipeg.