University of Windsor Leddy Library Creates Story Map on Missing Children of Indian Residential Schools

I am always on the lookout for innovative ways that libraries have found to create great stories about complex legal or historical issues that have many moving parts.

This one is quite remarkable: the Leddy Library at the University of Windsor has created a site that tells the story of the Missing Children of Indian Residential Schools using maps.

This intereactive visual representation of the residential school locations across Canada uses data from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report to document the experience:

“The recent discoveries of more than 1,700 unmarked graves at the sites of former residential schools in Canada have brought the world’s renewed attention to the dark and shameful chapter of Canadian history – Between the 1870s and the late 1990s, at least 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation children were taken from their families and communities to attend government-funded, church-run residential schools in an attempt to assimilate them.”

“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC), a body mandated to examine the history and impact of the residential schools, declared in 2015 that the residential schools were ‘a systematic, government- sponsored attempt to destroy Aboriginal cultures and languages and to assimilate Aboriginal peoples so that they no longer existed as distinct peoples’.”

“Many of those children who went to residential schools never returned. They were lost to their families. ­They were buried away from their families in long-neglected graves. ­The most basic of questions about missing children—Who died? Why did they die? Where are they buried? — have never been addressed or comprehensively documented throughout the history of Canada’s residential school system.”

The site was created by Leddy Library geospatial data analyst Carina Luo.

Luo also created a dashboard that features recent news stories about the continuing discoveries of unmarked graves of children who died at the schools.

The dashboard reports will be updated as new information comes in.

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