Healing Heritage: New Approaches to Commemorating Canada’s Indian Residential School System

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Cooper-Bolam, Trina Johanne




In anticipation of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, this thesis examines Canada’s federal place-based heritage infrastructure and critiques the policy and practice of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (HSMBC) relative to its engagements with the history of Indian residential schools (IRS) and difficult heritage in general. Interpreting IRS Survivor-led commemoration and heritage practices as healing and decolonizing, and drawing on art-as-resistance and social activism-oriented models of commemoration and counter-commemoration, I examine
alternative approaches to collective remembering and forgetting within the context of genocide, atrocity, and historic trauma. I argue for a needed shift from dominant heritage paradigms that bind heritage with conservation, to emergent approaches that recognize heritage as a healing practice. In conclusion, I present a series of recommendations to move toward bridging the gap between state practices of heritage, and the needs of Survivors and other IRS stakeholders.


Canadian Studies
Canadian History
Cultural Anthropology




Carleton University

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Master of Arts: 

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Thesis Degree Discipline: 

Canadian Studies

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Theses and Dissertations

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