Instructor: Professor Michel Hogue

After years spent gathering statements from Indian Residential Schools survivors about their experiences, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada issued ninety-four calls to action in June 2015 as a “first step toward redressing the legacy of Indian Residential Schools and advancing the process of reconciliation.”  The course will consider the work that the commission undertook, as well as the histories it was meant to address. It will begin by examining the history of residential schooling in Canada and of Canadian colonial policies towards Indigenous peoples more generally. It will examine the work undertaken by Indigenous political leaders, activists, and others to reform the system across the twentieth century and, eventually, to press for redress for the traumas the system inflicted. Finally, the course will look at the TRC itself and the various responses and critiques it has generated and will consider these alongside the broader challenges of remembering the histories of residential schools.

Needless to say, this course will force us to engage directly with some very difficult subjects, both as students of history and as participants in present-day conversations about how to address the legacies of these painful historical events. While we do so, we will seek out the experiences and perspectives of survivors of the system. We will also pause to consider the role that the practice of history has in the search for redress and reconciliation.

Course Format:

This course will consist of seminar discussions focused on the joint consideration of assigned texts, primary sources, and other materials. We will also be joined by guests throughout the term.

Required Readings:

I have not yet settled on the final readings for the course. In the past, we have used the following:

  • Milloy, John S. A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System, 1879 to 1986. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.
  • Merasty, Joseph Auguste, with David Carpenter. The Education of Augie Merasty: A Residential School Memoir. Regina: University of Regina Press, 2015.
  • Sellars, Bev. They Called Me Number One: Secrets and Survival at an Indian Residential School. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2013.

Course Requirements and Assignments:

I have yet to settle on the exact assignments for the course. In the past, students in the course were assessed on their seminar participation, and their completion of three different assignments: a review essay, blog assignments, and a final project.

Questions? Please contact me at