Information, Truth and Reconciliation


The Reports and 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRCC) were published in 2015. Appreciating and responding to this rich body of work will take generations of study, reflection, planning, and engagement. The politics of Truth and Reconciliation — politics that is both visible on the surface and also hidden deep within us — is unimaginatively difficult. Individuals must work with others in-real-life and on-line to meet these challenges.

For some time, I have been interested in information — especially, how it’s acquired, how it’s represented, and how it’s shared. My ideas have been heavily influenced by Eben Moglen and the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) movement, Yochai Benkler’s thoughts about de-centralized collaboration and freedom in a networked society, and Tim Berner-Lee’s vision of building a Semantic Web for the good of humankind.

Today, I begin exploring how our surer grasp of information about Indian Residential Schools might help us meet the political challenges of Truth and Reconciliation.

My starting point is the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and its online archives.

National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation

In 2007, the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) required that a centre be established to preserve the records of the TRCC. In 2015, the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation’s (NCTR) opened its doors on the campus of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. The NCTR holds millions of documents released by governments and churches, hundreds of historical photographs, and over 7,000 survivor statements collected by the TRCC. The NCTR also opened an on-line archives, using several schemes to arrange, describe and classify digitized records and to make them accessible to the general public.