What we do

The Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre (IRSHDC) privileges and honours the experiences of Survivors, to create a Survivor-centred, trauma-informed space for dialogue. Opened in April 2018, the Centre works to amplify conversations around the legacies of the Indian Residential School System and the on-going impacts of colonialism in 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 

Learn more about the Centre’s work by engaging with events and programming, visiting the Centre in person, browsing the records and collections online, catching up on news, or contacting us.