Indian Residential School Records Statement
April 26, 2022
It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we extend our deepest condolences to the communities who are grappling with the continued and horrific discovery of numerous unmarked graves at former residential school sites. Further, we offer a message of care and sympathy to all communities who are beginning the challenging and traumatizing work of revisiting residential schools on their territories, necessary to bring their children home.
The AABC affirms the experiences of and supports Indigenous communities throughout British Columbia and Canada who have been irrevocably harmed by the Indian Residential School System perpetuated by colonial institutions. The Canadian settler state has been proven to have committed acts of genocide on the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis on their territories, and it is clear that it will be a long path towards meaningful reconciliation.
Our first priority is to the wellness of the individuals, families, and communities harmed by the Indian Residential School System. We encourage all who are able to do so, to donate to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society: https://www.irsss.ca/
As the executive of the Archives Association of British Columbia, we affirm our commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action, which can be read in their entirety here: http://trc.ca/assets/pdf/Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf .
We further encourage our membership to work towards implementing the actionable items as outlined in the Reconciliation Framework for Canada’s Archives from the Steering Committee on Canada’s Archives: https://archives2026.files.wordpress.com/2022/02/reconciliationframeworkreport_en.pdf
It is imperative that we hold our country, our province, our institutions, and ourselves accountable to these frameworks, and continue to devote ourselves to meaningful reconciliation. As archivists, we know the power of records as evidence that simultaneously upholds and implicates the colonial system. The AABC Executive recognizes the ongoing work of our colleagues to locate and provide access to residential school records. We support the continuation of this important work, including increased transparency around gaps and limitations in the records, across all archival institutions.
Archival institutions have played and continue to play a role in supporting and upholding colonial systems in Canada. With that said, we additionally recognize the power of archives as places of healing, where revitalization and repatriation can move us forward on renewed relationships based on mutual respect, self-actualization, and understanding.
Where we have the ability as professionals and individuals, we must challenge our institutions to do better, and to support Indigenous communities to remake or reimagine archives and archival labour in a way which meaningfully serves their communities.
Finally, to those who are experiencing unwellness or trauma due to the discoveries, please utilize the following support organizations:
Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS) services include grief and loss counselling, crisis counselling, trauma counselling, Family and Group counselling and other supports including Traditional Healing Methods & Medicines, for more information please visit their website. Or, phone the IRSSS Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419 (Open 24 hours a day 7 days a week).
Indian Residential Schools Mental Health Support Program (Government of Canada) provides mental and emotional health support services to eligible former Indian Residential School students and their families throughout all phases of the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement, for more information phone Toll-Free 1-877-477-0775.
FNHA First Nations Health Benefits Mental Health Providers List If you have questions about providers you can call the IRS toll-free number at 1.877.477.0775 Monday to Friday 8 am – 4 pm or download the service provider list.
Hope for Wellness Help Line offers immediate mental health counselling and crisis intervention to all Indigenous peoples across Canada.
Crisis Centre BC. If you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or thinking about suicide, call or chat online with a crisis responder any time: 1-800-784-2433 (1-800-SUICIDE), (24 hours a day), crisiscentre.bc.ca
Aboriginal Wellness Program, run by the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, offers adult counselling and support groups at 2750 East Hastings Street, Suite 288, Vancouver; Phone: 604-675-2551 or visit their website.
BC Mental Health Services: Includes a comprehensive list of resources, phone numbers, and support systems for each health authority https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/mental-health-substance-use.
In kindness and solidarity,
The Executive of the Archives Association of British Columbia and the Indigenous Advocacy Committee
A Statement Regarding Black Lives Matter Activism and Anti-Racism Initiatives
June 16, 2020
The AABC recognizes and joins those advocating for an end to racism, injustice, and violence against Black communities in Canada and abroad, and supports statements made by fellow North American heritage organizations regarding Black Lives Matter protests and Anti-Racism initiatives (including the ACA and SAA).
Racism and colonial violence against Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) communities in Canada has been a reality since settler contact; colonial violence and institutional racism are embedded in archival practice; and, action against that violence and racism is both urgent, and long overdue.
This statement alone is not enough and our executive understands that words without action are demonstrative of performative allyship. In order to support and promote anti-racism in archives and heritage, the AABC Executive Committee commits to accomplishing the following action items by the 2021 Annual General Meeting (May 2021):
The input of our community is essential as we continue to develop our action plan, and work towards a reality of anti-racist archives. Please reach out to the executive through our incoming President, Jenny Seeman (firstname.lastname@example.org) with suggestions, comments, or feedback, and we invite AABC members to join the upcoming discussion at our Annual General Meeting on June 17th, 2020 at 1:00pm via Zoom.
The Archives Association of British Columbia Executive
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The Archives Association of British Columbia acknowledges that it carries out its work on the land of Indigenous nations throughout British Columbia. We are grateful for the continuing relationships with Indigenous people in B.C. that develop through our work together.