The Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre is located on the traditional, ancestral, unceded territory of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ speaking xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) people.

About the Collections

Between 1883 and 1996, the Government of Canada and church organizations operated the Indian Residential School System. An estimated 150,000 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children were removed from their families, homes, languages, and lands. These schools were part of Canada’s official policy, which aimed to eliminate Indigenous cultures and, through assimilation, cause Indigenous peoples to cease to exist.

When the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report was published in June 2015, it documented a devastating history of abuse and neglect of Indigenous children. Non-Indigenous Canadians were confronted with a stark reality of the nation’s history as experienced by Indigenous peoples. It provided not only a sobering look at Canada’s history, but a meaningful context for the reality many Indigenous people face today, and for the complicated relationships between Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous Canadians.

Even after the work of the TRC, too many Canadians remain unaware of this history or its lasting effects. With no widely shared understanding of the circumstances that have shaped Indigenous experience in Canada or the actions taken by Canadian institutions, we are unable to understand each other or begin to talk from a common understanding. Yet the issues we must navigate are critical to our common future. To respond to the need for more informed understandings, UBC established the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre (IRSHDC).

The Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre (IRSHDC) at UBC provides access for former Indian Residential School students, their families, and communities to records of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (housed at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Archives). The IRSHDC will also provide information resources from partner institutions in support of education, public information, research, and dialogue about the Indian Residential School System and its legacies. The Centre will continually collect and integrate Survivor stories, records, information, and conversations about the residential school system into its collections from donors and institutional partners. The IRSHDC collections include digital copies as well as original records donated to the Centre.

The IRSHDC will bring together community-based experts, researchers, and educators to discuss the ongoing impact of the schools and their ties to issues such as economic development and the health and sustainability of Indigenous communities. As part of this, the Centre strives to provide collaborators with platforms designed to support partnership building, to aid in improving understanding and to contribute to meaningful dialogue.