Museums and archives

Learn how the Government of Canada is responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action 67 to 70.

67. We call upon the federal government to provide funding to the Canadian Museums Association to undertake, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, a national review of museum policies and best practices to determine the level of compliance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to make recommendations.

What's happening?

Canadian Heritage is working with the Canadian Museums Association to support the implementation of Call to Action 67. In fiscal year 2017 to 2018, Canadian Heritage funding was provided to the Canadian Museums Association to establish a framework and plan for undertaking a national review.

An overall plan and budget was endorsed in 2018. In addition, a funding agreement was finalized to enable the implementation of the plan and a funding announcement was made on April 16, 2019.

Moving forward, the Council and regional partners will undertake roundtables, surveys, research and literature reviews to develop a comprehensive report identifying current policies, best practices and gaps, followed by clear recommendations and a communications toolkit.

68. We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, and the Canadian Museums Association to mark the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation in 2017 by establishing a dedicated national funding program for commemoration projects on the theme of reconciliation.

What's happening?

Through the Canada 150 Fund, over $3.6 million was invested in 5 signature projects  that include a strong focus on Indigenous communities, including 2 that are specifically designed to promote reconciliation amongst Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada.

In addition, $28.6 million has been invested in 248 community projects that contribute to celebrating Indigenous communities or reconciliation amongst Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada. The Canada 150 fund is now closed.

69. We call upon Library and Archives Canada to:

  1. Fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the United Nations Joinet-Orentlicher Principles, as related to Aboriginal peoples' inalienable right to know the truth about what happened and why, with regard to human rights violations committed against them in the residential schools.
  2. Ensure that its record holdings related to residential schools are accessible to the public.
  3. Commit more resources to its public education materials and programming on residential schools.

What's happening?

As part of the Government of Canada's Indigenous language and culture revitalization agenda, $14.9 million was announced in Budget 2017 for the digitization of First Nations, Inuit and Métis-related content in Library and Archives Canada (LAC)'s collections and for preservation and digitization support for communities holding Indigenous language recordings. In this context, LAC implemented 2 initiatives and hired 10 indigenous archivists:

  • Listen, Hear Our Voices is an initiative offering free services and providing funding to Indigenous communities to help digitize and preserve Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation) culture and language recordings. Seven archivists, based in traditional territories, were hired by LAC to deliver tailored services to participating Indigenous communities across Canada
  • We are here: Sharing Stories is an initiative focusing on increasing free online access to LAC's holdings that contain content related to Indigenous peoples. All descriptive work for newly digitized material is being led by 3 Indigenous archivists on the project team, ensuring content is culturally relevant, sensitive and historically accurate. In  fiscal year 2018 to 2019, the initiative digitized over 200,000 pages of material from both the Government and private collections

Since 2017, LAC has done the following to support First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples' access to records related to Indian Residential Schools, material relevant to their own distinct cultural heritages and to support research for land claims and other legal cases:

  • developed new online content and reference tools
  • made available the Truth and Reconciliation Commission web archives
  • piloted public programming to address and gain a better understanding of the research needs and interests of local indigenous communities
  • planned new exhibitions related to indigenous culture and residential schools
  • modified its internal Access to Information request process

LAC will ensure that First Nations, Inuit and Métis partners are engaged at all stages of initiatives that affect, or are about, their lives and their histories. To do so, LAC has established an Advisory Circle of Indigenous representatives. At the same time, LAC continues to engage individuals at the local level for projects that are unique to certain communities, groups, families and peoples. The newly formed Youth Advisory Committee also has an Indigenous representation to ensure proper engagement at all levels. In addition, LAC created, in concert with the Indigenous Advisory Circle, an ambitious multi-year action plan that covers the breadth of its activities related to Indigenous heritages and histories. The plan presents 28 actions LAC is taking to recognize Indigenous rights and increase access to LAC's collection. It has been made public to ensure transparency and accountability.

Finally, LAC is collaborating with galleries, libraries, archives, museums, other cultural institutions and Indigenous organizations, including the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, the Vancouver Public Library and the UBC Indian Residential Schools History and Dialogue Centre, to share information and develop public programming initiatives to ensure residential school history is preserved and made known.

70. We call upon the federal government to provide funding to the Canadian Association of Archivists to undertake, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, a national review of archival policies and best practices to:

  1. Determine the level of compliance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the United Nations Joinet-Orentlicher Principles, as related to Aboriginal peoples' inalienable right to know the truth about what happened and why, with regard to human rights violations committed against them in the residential schools.
  2. Produce a report with recommendations for full implementation of these international mechanisms as a reconciliation framework for Canadian archives.

What's happening?

In 2016, 5 organizations representing the archival community established a non-governmental committee to, in part, oversee the implementation of Call to Action 70. In 2018, this committee, called the Standing Committee on Canada's Archives, obtained financial support from the federal government through a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council grant.

A Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report Response Task Force is currently in a data analysis and drafting stage, examining existing policies, protocols and best practices for reconciliation and decolonization in the Canadian and international archival communities. First Nations, Inuit and Métis partners have been recruited to participate in task force activities. In July 2017, the task force launched the Survey on Reconciliation Action & Awareness in Canadian Archives to acquire data on the state of readiness within Canadian archives to engage in reconciliation and to identify work already in progress by documentary heritage institutions in Canada.

Between August 2018 and March 2019, the task force members conducted outreach interviews with Indigenous organizations representatives and the information gathered from these conversations was anonymized and compiled into a draft Indigenous Outreach Summary Report. Members of the task force gathered in Vancouver in March 2019 for a Reconciliation Visioning Circle. During this event, the task force reviewed the results of outreach and research to date and endeavoured to draft a series of principles, protocols, and recommendations for Canadian archives.

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