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Indian Residential School
History and Dialogue Centre

Campus Initiatives Vancouver | Indigenous Initiatives

Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre

Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre

Your gift will support the important work of the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre to provide access to important records, facilitate meaningful dialogue, illuminate a previously hidden history, and enact UBC’s commitment to reconciliation.

The Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre (IRSHDC) at UBC addresses the colonial legacy of residential schools and other policies imposed by the Canadian government on Indigenous Peoples, and ensures that this history is acknowledged, examined and understood within the UBC community. The Centre works with partners across disciplines, at UBC and beyond, to facilitate dialogues and access to records and information that support engaging the legacies of the residential school system and the on-going impacts of colonialism in Canada. This work supports teaching and learning at UBC, and the work of UBC’s Indigenous Strategic Plan, by supporting Indigenous Peoples’ self-determination and working in partnership with partners and communities. The Centre is quickly establishing itself as a leading institution for culturally informed, reciprocal, community-led research, education and dialogues in partnership with Indigenous communities, Survivors and UBC. As a Survivor-centred, trauma-informed space, the Centre works in service to Indigenous communities and peoples of Canada.

Drawing on community engagement, emergent technologies and creative and collaborative approaches, the IRSHDC aims to facilitate a variety of engagements and support informed dialogue and more transparent information practices. As a framework that seeks to privilege respectful, equitable and innovative access to records and information, the IRSHDC’s developing systems and space of inquiry can model a new platform for information stewardship, particularly relating to collections that hold records of traumatic events – one that is pluralistic and seeks to support agency.

The Centre also utilizes digital technologies in service to challenge the hierarchies within the structures of bureaucracy and challenge the authenticity of state narratives, educate about this chapter in Canada’s national narrative, facilitate critical engagement and entertain a place where “distrust” (of records, systems, narratives, etc.) can be surfaced and discussed, serving as a model of disruption for other libraries, archives and museums.

The Centre collaborates and engages with partners such as the Indian Residential School Survivors Society, Survivors and their families, Indigenous community members, UBC faculty and research centres on campus, and partner institutions such as libraries, archives and museums at the local, provincial and national level.

Goals and activities

  • Support access for Residential School Survivors and their families to their records in a safe, respectful and trauma-informed way
  • Engage with academic and community collaborators around issues of information and records to ensure that policies, practices, systems and protocols are collaboratively developed with Indigenous community partners
  • Support the collection of materials and oral histories of the Residential School Survivors
  • Curate IRS records and information in the development of exhibitions and resources that support education, research, and public engagement through emergent technologies
  • Develop content and resources in collaborative ways to present different perspectives, develop new understandings, and support agency for those affected by the IRSS and its legacies
  • Facilitate meaningful and critical dialogue
  • Challenge hierarchies and colonial narratives to educate and inform in both practical and theoretical ways



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