The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation was recently awarded the Research Data Alliance Award for the Most Outstanding Digital Preservation Initiative in Commerce, Industry and the Third Sector presented by the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC).
This award recognizes the NCTR for developing a digital infrastructure and workplan for the preservation of over four million digital documents and 7,000 recordings of Indigenous testimonies of the history and legacy of the residential school program. This project enables the NCTR to make materials meaningfully available to Indigenous communities in support of the rights and dignity of Indigenous peoples. Of specific note for the award, the NCTR applied its $6 million Canada Foundation for Innovation grant to work with the National Film Board to set up a program to preserve and make available the diverse A-V formats of almost 3,000 hours of Survivor statements the TRC collected as it researched the history and legacy of the residential school program.
The announcement was made at the presentation ceremony at the iPres 2022 conference in Glasgow, Scotland on September 12. Accepting the award on behalf of Raymond Frogner, NCTR Head of Archives, was Emmanuel Modozie, who delivered Mr. Frogner’s acceptance speech:
“I wish to thank the Digital Preservation Coalition for presenting the NCTR with this award. The award is an international recognition of the strength and perseverance of Indigenous peoples. For more than a century Indigenous children were forcefully removed from their families and communities to be sent to residential schools designed to extinguish their languages, worldviews and spirituality. While these statements describe the loneliness, the sense of abandonment, and helplessness of children, they are also an expression of strength, of the perseverance and self-determination of Survivors.
Reconciliation from this dark chapter in Canada’s history is impossible until there is acknowledgement. These events must be understood as part of our national heritage. Until Settler society acknowledges this colonial past there can be no atonement. These statements are not only the legacy of residential schools’ harmful effects; they are an argument for the revitalization of these communities. To try to understand the experiences of these children is the first step towards addressing our colonial past and to rebuild the relationship between settler and Indigenous societies on principles of equality, collective rights, and human dignity. For this reason, the preservation and access to these statements is a public good. For you are what you choose to remember, and you are also what you choose to forget.”
The NCTR is grateful to the Canadian Foundation of Innovation for providing a $6 million grant that funded this project and also acknowledges the technical expertise of the National Film Board who supplied their technical expertise to make this project possible.
The Digital Preservation Awards are a world-wide celebration of significant and state-of-the-art contributions to securing our digital legacy and just one of the ways to raise awareness about the strategic, cultural, and technological issues which make up the digital preservation challenge.
About the NCTR
The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) hosted by the University of Manitoba was created to preserve the memory of Canada’s Residential School system and legacy, not just for a few years, but forever. It is the responsibility of the NCTR to steward and share the truths of Survivors’ experiences in a respectful way and to work with Indigenous and non-Indigenous educators, researchers, communities, decision-makers and the general public to support the ongoing work of truth, reconciliation and healing across Canada and beyond.