Residential School Community Archives

Spaces of Trauma and Community Healing




Colonial archives are sites of trauma, erasure, and grief for many marginalized communities. In Canada the vast majority of archives relating to Indigenous peoples are held by government, church, and non-Indigenous archives. Colonial archives have actively taken Indigenous culture and heritage away from communities and made it inaccessible to those who the records are about.  Many archives containing information relating to Residential Schools have just begun to grapple with the ethical and professional obligations that come from holding records that document colonial violence, abuse, death, and assimilationist practices.

This article explores the practices of the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre (SRSC) community archive and the ways in which the SRSC supports community healing and navigates traumatic archival records.   Since its establishment the SRSC archives has been a place of raw emotion and grief, but also a place of tremendous community strength, healing, and resilience. This article will explore the trauma associated with archives of Residential Schools and the ongoing navigation of archival spaces which embody loss and community.

Pre-print first published online 09/28/2021

Author Biographies

Krista McCracken, Algoma University

Krista McCracken is an award-winning public historian and archivist. They work as a Researcher/Curator at  the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre, in Baawating (Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario) on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe and Métis people. Krista’s research focuses on community archives, Residential Schools, access, and outreach. 

Skylee-Storm Hogan, Know History Historical Services

Skylee-Storm Hogan (Stacey) is a public historian currently living and working on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabek in Ottawa, Ontario. Skylee-Storm has worked with Indigenous-Crown legal histories, Residential Schools, Indigenous stories of resistance, and oral histories of Kahnawà:ke elders. Their research interests are in Kahnawà:ke history, Residential Schools history, community-based and Indigenous archival systems, ownership, and collections access. Skylee-Storm works with Know History Historical Services as a Historian in their Ottawa office.