WINNIPEG/SIX NATIONS – An archive created to preserve the memory of Canada’s residential school system will launch its official opening on Wednesday afternoon, housing millions of government and church documents as well as thousands of survivor statements in one central location. The records, which will be available to the public, include everything from school inspection reports to testimonies of abuse which took place at the schools.
The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR), located at the University of Manitoba, began opening ceremonies on Tuesday, November 3; a lighting of the sacred fire began the day’s events at 12:30 pm, with opening remarks and reconciliation dialogue spanning the rest of the day until 4:30 pm.
The records kept at NCTR were gathered by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as they visited hundreds of Indigenous communities across Canada. Thousands of survivors told their stories, which were documented through statements, videos and photographs.
In an interview with the Canadian Press, NCTR director Ry Moran said that the centre has the unique challenge of making the records available while still being respectful of the privacy of survivors.
“While we have a very pressing and very real mandate to make as much of the collection available as possible, we’re also being told to do no harm in the release of the information and do things in as respectful a way as possible,” Moran stated.
In an effort to glean direction from Indigenous communities on how the NCTR can best handle such sensitive documents, community engagement sessions have been and are currently underway.
On Tuesday November 10, staff of the NCTR will hold a community engagement session in Ohsweken at the Six Nations Community Hall. Hosted by Ganohkwasra, the session begins at 9:00 am and runs until 4:00 pm. Lunch and health supports will be provided to all in attendance. To register for the session, call Ida Martin at 1-519-445-4336 or Melba Thomas at 1-905-765-6278. All survivors, inter-generational survivors, and the general public are encouraged to attend.