The archives at the NCTR are the heartbeat of the Centre. 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. 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.
This archive is 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. This archive supports multiple ways of knowing. Respecting and valuing the authority of Elders, Indigenous people 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. The truth contained within the records housed at the NCTR will fuel new research, understanding, learning and Reconciliation for years to come and will play an essential role in healing as we move forward as a nation.
The NCTR actively collects records on various issues and subject areas important to Indigenous communities across the country. Records within the archives include but are not limited to:
- TRC reports and publications
- Footage from TRC public events – apologies, expressions of Reconciliation and diaglogues 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 people telling their own stories, in their own languages—and sharing their knowledge more directly through the use of video and audio,” says Raymond Frogner, head of Archives at the NCTR. Canada’s Mentor – NCTR’s decolonizing archival practices, read full story here.
The NCTR currently houses over 5 million records in its archival collections. The overwhelming majority of these records currently consist of those created or co-created or collected by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) during its mandate. Records created or co-created by the TRC include the business records of the Commission and Statements gathered by the TRC from individuals impacted by Residential Schools. These records also include objects given to the TRC in a range of contexts.
Preserving Canada’s Residential School records is a sacred obligation. The NCTR will preserve these records so that Canadians do not forget what happened at the schools or their lasting legacy. While the NCTR will make the Residential School records as accessible as possible, it will also strictly adhere to privacy laws and to cultural access protocols. All records will be cared for under rigorous information and protection of privacy standards that will be guided and managed by the University of Manitoba’s Access and Privacy Office with strong input by the Governing Circle. For more information on NCTR’s Access and Privacy policies.
For those with limited access to the internet or a computer, the NCTR can provide one on one support.
How to preserve your own records
The NCTR is mandated to preserve the legacy of the Indian Residential School (IRS) system by acquiring all types of relevant records. The NCTR is ready to work with people and organizations seeking advice on how to properly store and preserve their own history. Preserving Indigenous history is especially important to the NCTR and we aim to better understand the archival needs of Indigenous communities across Canada. The NCTR offers archival preservation advice to anyone who would like to preserve their records.
To speak with an NCTR Archivist regarding the preservation of your records or how to share your records with NCTR, please contact: nctrRecords@umanitoba.ca