The archives at the NCTR are the heartbeat of the Centre. They are intended to be a powerful agent of change in the country — a mirror that allows all Canadians to understand the history of Canada and the treatment of Indigenous Peoples.
We currently house more than five million records in our archival collections. The overwhelming majority of these records currently consist of those created or collected by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) during its mandate. The NCTR also actively collects records on various issues and subject areas important to Indigenous communities across the country.
Records within the archives include:
- TRC reports and publications;
- Footage from TRC public events – apologies, expressions of reconciliation and dialogues on reconciliation;
- Thousand of hours of statements from former students, their families, staff and those affected by the residential school system;
- Donations of material objects, art, poems and music;
- School admissions, school histories, administration records, photographs, maps, plans and drawings from the Government of Canada;
- Student records, duplicate photographs, school newsletters, cemetery records and religious records from church entities.
These archives are stored in the AtoM (Access to Memory) database. AtoM is a web-based, open source app that offers international standards and access in a multilingual, multi-repository environment.
We invite you to access the archives and explore your history:
Preserving the records and providing access to the materials housed here is our first and most important priority. We are at the cutting edge of digital archiving and preservation to ensure these records are here not just now, but for all time.
But preserving the records is about much more than holding documents in a vault.
This archive supports multiple ways of knowing. By incorporating Indigenous perspectives on memory, archival practice and ownership, we are creating something new — a decolonizing archive built on principles of respect, honesty, wisdom, courage, humility, love and truth.
Respecting and valuing the authority of Survivors, Elders, Indigenous Peoples and traditional knowledge keepers responsible for bearing, interpreting and determining access to traditional knowledge within the appropriate protocols of language, environment, and culture is essential in our work.
“These archives are people telling their own stories, in their own languages—and sharing their knowledge more directly through the use of video and audio.”~ Raymond Frogner, head of Archives at the NCTR. From Canada’s Mentor: NCTR’s decolonizing archival practices.
NCTR’s spirit name – bezhig miigwan, meaning “one feather”.
Bezhig miigwan calls upon us to see each Survivor coming to the NCTR as a single eagle feather and to show those Survivors the same respect and attention an eagle feather deserves. It also teaches we are all in this together — we are all one, connected, and it is vital to work together to achieve reconciliation.