With a commitment to reconciliation and healing within indigenous and non-indigenous communities, The United Church of Canada is seeking a like-minded individual to undertake focused research and information gathering to understand the United Church’s involvement and legacy in operating what were known as “Indian Day Schools”. This is a fee-for-service contract role for 40 weeks (based on a 35 hour work week) starting as soon as possible. They will work with the Executive Minister, Indigenous Ministries and Justice, and consults with the General Council Office Archivist.
The United Church’s involvement in Indian residential schools has been researched and thoroughly documented to fulfill part of the Church’s obligations under the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (2006) and in support of the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada (2009-2015). This project builds on that research and a scoping project on records related to day schools (May-August 2016). There is currently no comprehensive history of the United Church’s involvement in day school operations, let alone a complete list of schools or Indigenous communities affected by the operation of day schools. It is estimated that the United Church (and its antecedent denominations) were involved in approximately 100 day schools across Canada. Church ministers and staff taught Indigenous children on reserves from the earliest days of the Church in Canada until the 1960s. This research project will help the Church to be accountable to former students and communities seeking information on how and why the Church was involved in day schools; it will help elucidate the connections between day schools and residential schools; and it will deepen the Church’s understanding of its colonizing role.
Completion of this research will support the Church’s commitment to implement TRC Calls to Action by contributing to the education of Canadians about the history of day schools, a poorly understood aspect of the history of relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and the churches. It also is consistent with the Church’s commitment to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a framework for reconciliation.
The Archival Researcher will carry out research to gather and document as full and complete a picture as possible of each school, including information about its history, students, staffing, relationship to the community, and interaction with the church. The research will include information on health issues, and deaths and burials of children who attended the schools, as well as information about cemetery sites. The Researcher will:
- Review Methodist/Presbyterian/United Church Annual Mission Reports (1849-1969), 3 weeks;
- Review Department of Indian Affairs annual reports (1864-1969), 3 weeks;
- Review all files identified in United Church of Canada (UCC) Archives Research Guide on Day Schools Part 1 (437 files), approximately 20 weeks;
- Review files identified in UCC Church Archives in Conferences where Day Schools were located (6 Conferences), 6 weeks;
- Write narratives and timelines for each school and Executive Summary for national administrative history, 6 weeks;
- Data entry for lists of staff, students, Indigenous communities affected and photos. Additional research in community archives and/or gathering oral history as deemed appropriate by the project team, 2 weeks.
The professional researcher must be familiar with the history of Indian residential and day schools in Canada and have a solid understanding of the structure and relationships of The United Church of Canada in its many contexts. They must have excellent verbal and written communication skills, along with good computer skills including Word, Excel.