Emily Larson is a digital systems consultant* at the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre. Her behind-the-scenes work helps the IRSHDC in using technology to make learning about residential schools accessible and engaging to everyone. Emily’s work is informed by her completion of a Dual Masters of Archival Studies and Library and Information Studies from UBC iSchool and the First Nations Curriculum Concentration, which gave her professional experiences that support working with and for Indigenous Peoples.
Emily’s work at the Centre includes processing digital and physical records all while focusing on user experience and storytelling. She works to develop and maintain the Centre’s interactive wall, and is also part of the ongoing archival work on the Larry Loyie and Constance Brissenden collection. When working in technology and records, it wouldn’t be hard to become confined from the communities and people that Emily’s work centres on. Emily aware of this tendency in her field, and strives to push back against isolation by making real life connections.
“A broad goal for myself is to always put people at the centre of my work,” Emily explains. “Emphasizing care, relationships, and mutual responsibility are guides for me so that even if I’ve spent an entire day looking at a metadata spreadsheet, I remain connected to the people that the IRHSDC supports.”
This aim to transform reaches past Emily’s personal practices as she seeks to “criticize power dynamics of information systems and potential paths forward to disrupt these systems.” She wishes to make small changes in her field which will work towards larger goals of “disrupting colonialism.” Emily hopes to accomplish this in her role at the Centre, which Emily says has “reinforced my desire to be in spaces that support social justice… As a settler I am humbled by the strength and resilience of Survivors and hopes that my work at the IRSHDC honours them.”
*Emily Larson is a Digital Systems Specialist at the Centre as of March 2021.