Leddy Library creates online resource to raise awareness about residential schools

Photo of Missing Children of Indian Residential Schools app

The inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation takes place Thursday, Sept. 30. Coinciding with Orange Shirt Day, the day brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in the spirit of hope and reconciliation to honour residential school victims, survivors, their families, and communities.

To commemorate these important days, Leddy Library’s geospatial data analyst Carina Luo created a story map to educate and raise awareness about the residential schools that operated in Canada.

The story map, Missing Children of Indian Residential Schools, uses data collected from Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, and geographic information system to provide a visual representation of the 139 Indian residential school locations across Canada as well as document the search for missing children from those schools.

The recent confirmation of unmarked graves uncovered at the sites of several former residential schools across Canada have brought renewed attention to this dark and shameful chapter of Canadian history, Luo says.

“The story map allows users to learn about the history of residential schools in Canada and includes interactive maps that show information about each of the residential school locations as well as how those locations changed over time,” says Luo, who provides geospatial services to the campus community through the Academic Data Centre at Leddy Library.

Indigenous communities across Canada have been leading searches of residential school sites for unmarked graves. More than 1,700 unmarked graves have been discovered near the former sites of seven Canadian Indian residential schools in the Northwest Territories as well as in the provinces of Manitoba, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan.

In response, Luo has also created an online dashboard displaying recent news stories from the investigations and discoveries of unmarked graves near former residential school sites. She plans to continue updating the dashboard as new discoveries or investigations are announced.

Orange Shirt Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a day for learning and reflection. The library encourages the community to explore the various resources available to learn about residential schools and to honour victims, survivors, their families, and communities.

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