What we do

The Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre (IRSHDC) at UBC addresses the colonial impacts 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 helps provide access to records and information for Survivors and Intergenerational Survivors of the Residential School system. We also work with partners at UBC and beyond to encourage dialogue about the Residential School system and the on-going repercussions of colonialism in Canada.

The IRSHDC combines working with and in community with emerging technologies to support informed discourse and more transparent information practices. We want to model new methods of information stewardship, especially relating to collections holding records of traumatic events. Our vision is of a system that prioritizes respectful, equitable and collaborative access to records and information.

We work in service to challenge oppressive hierarchies and the authenticity of state narratives. We aim to educate about this chapter in Canada’s national narrative, inspire critical engagement and co-create a place where “distrust” (of records, systems, narratives, etc.) can be surfaced and discussed. We believe in this model of disruption for the Centre and 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 Indian Residential School 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 Indian Residential School System 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.