What does it mean to be a Witness?

In many Indigenous cultures witnessing is an important way that knowledge is remembered and passed on. In the context of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), official witnesses were called at each regional and national event to bear the responsibility of remembering the stories shared by Survivors and to share this knowledge with others. In this context, the act of witnessing helps to create a new record of residential school survival in Canada that is shared by Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

The section contains conversations about what it means to be a witness. Contributors to these essays are artists, curators, programmers, researchers, and students. Authors write from the perspective of Intergenerational Survivors and families of Survivors as well as descendants of Settler Canadians. Their essays offer personal reflections about what it means to witness the experiences and lives of children in Canadian residential schools through artworks. The essays expand on the question ‘what does it mean to be a witness?’ in the wake of the TRC and as we attend to the Calls to Action in our work and lives.

Visit the TRC website to provide further context to the concept of bearing witness to residential schools and their legacies.