We call upon Library and Archives Canada to: 

  1. Fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the United Nations Joinet-Orentlicher Principles, as related to Aboriginal peoples’ inalienable right to know the truth about what happened and why, with regard to human rights violations committed against them in the residential schools. 
  2. Ensure that its record holdings related to residential schools are accessible to the public.
  3. Commit more resources to its public education materials and programming on residential schools.

Indigenous Watchdog Status Update

Current StatusJune 14, 2021IN PROGRESS
Previous StatusMarch 31, 2021IN PROGRESS

Why “In Progress”?

The Indigenous Heritage Action Plan” released in April, 2019 by Library and Archives Canada (LAC) recognizes Indigenous rights and increases access to LAC’s collection through 28 specific actions. The Action Plan also directly addresses UNDRIP and the United Nations Joinet – Orentlicher Principles in the ‘Purpose and Principles” section of the Indigenous Heritage Action Plan but not directly through any of the specific actions.

With respects to iii LAC has not updated profiles of John A MacDonald, the primary architect of the Indian residential schools as well as numerous racist policies of forced assimilation and disenfranchisement including starvation of the plains Cree in order to advance the nation building of CP Rail.

Indigenous Heritage Action Plan – 28 Actions

In order to pave the way for important changes within the institution, LAC is committed to playing an active role so that all employees have a better understanding of Indigenous peoples’ reconciliation process and participate in the reconciliation process.

The 28 actions are delivered across 4 general themes:

Institutional Change (1 – 9)
In order to pave the way for important changes within the institution, LAC is committed to playing an active role so that all employees have a better understanding of Indigenous peoples’ reconciliation process and participate in the reconciliation process.

Engagement and Collaboration (10 – 14)
LAC will engage with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation communities in good faith and at all stages of its related initiatives. It is only through meaningful engagement with Indigenous communities and organizations that LAC can understand, preserve and present their heritage in a manner that is historically accurate and culturally appropriate.

Managing Records in the LAC Collection Related to First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation (15 – 23)
LAC acquires, preserves and provides access to government records, private archives and published materials that document First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation experiences in Canada so that information is available now and for future generations. Going forward, LAC will manage these collections in a way that is collaborative, participatory and respectful of Indigenous institutions and knowledge.

Promotions and Support (24 – 28)

28 Actions

  1. In line with the TRC Call to Action No. 57, we will facilitate distinction-based awareness and learning activities for LAC staff on the subjects of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation histories, intercultural relations, reconciliation, and Indigenous rights.
  2. Senior management will lead by example, demonstrating a long-term commitment to reconciliation and the advancement of the Government of Canada’s renewed approach to nation-to-nation relationships. LAC management will support its employees in their efforts to implement related initiatives and programs.
  3. We will devote specific human resources and install visual markers of Indigenous peoples at our institutions and dedicate training resources in order to raise employees’ awareness of topics specific to First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation, including an understanding of distinction-based protocols and land acknowledgements.
  4. We will ensure that those working with materials related to Indigenous experiences have community engagement as a formal work objective and we will add community engagement to our workflows and processes where appropriate.
  5. We will hire First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation employees for major initiatives and projects related to Indigenous heritages, connecting LAC to Indigenous perspectives and communities. Where possible, Indigenous people will be included in hiring boards and selection processes.
  6. We will work toward building a representative workforce where Indigenous people account for a proportional number of employees and executives.
  7. We will seek the counsel of an Elder-in-Residence to help guide LAC in all of its work relating to Indigenous peoples.
  8. We will work with universities for the development of co-op/internship programs 8 for Indigenous youth interested in pursuing careers in archives, libraries, museums, history, archaeology, information management or the public service.
  9. We will consult with local Indigenous communities as we design our new service facility with the Ottawa Public Library in order to create a space where Indigenous clients feel included and comfortable. The functionality of the service spaces will be designed on the principles of decolonization.
  10. We will research and develop distinction-based engagement guidelines so that LAC understands and follows cultural protocols and shows respect for the beliefs and practices of First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation with whom it engages, and from whom it seeks guidance and support.
  11. We will devote specific human resources to coordinate LAC’s engagement and outreach efforts with First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation.
  12. We will work with Indigenous-led institutions across Canada to enable greater access to the documentary heritage material that matters to them. This includes new partnerships and collaborations with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation communities, archives, libraries, museums, as well as agreements with universities and other educational institutions. We will also loan valued documents to Indigenous communities and organizations for exhibitions and related events.
  13. We will use enhanced crowdsourcing tools and platforms to enable Indigenous peoples to contribute their knowledge directly to the enhancement and contextualization of digital collections. This includes description, transcription, factual corrections and translation.
  14. We will create forums for engagement with specialized users including educators, land claims and legal researchers, cultural centres and associations and others to ensure that the collections they need are available and easily accessible.
  15. We will apply the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act in a way that maximizes access while protecting sensitive and personal information. Further, we will continue to improve and simplify the request for access to information process to add transparency, decrease delays and reduce the administrative burden for clients.
  16. In collaboration with the NCTR, we will provide access to all known residential school information held in the LAC collection while protecting personal information. Furthermore, we will improve the ability to discover and access residential school information.
  17. We will adapt the words we use to describe LAC collections related to First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation to enhance access and to ensure a culturally appropriate and respectful approach.
  18. We will continue to facilitate access to documentary evidence for legal processes (e.g., land claims) and quasi-legal processes (e.g., commissions, inquiries) in a way that is balanced and responsive.
  19. We will establish a plan and implement changes to our reference services and service spaces to be more responsive to the needs individually and collectively expressed by First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation. We will do so in consultation with the Indigenous Advisory Circle and Indigenous researchers at LAC.
  20. We will share LAC archival records and research results with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation communities and organizations. We will also examine Indigenous-led access management of some LAC collections that relate to specific peoples or communities, and of records created from Indigenous knowledge.
  21. As part of LAC’s new We are here, Sharing stories initiative, we will digitize collections related to Indigenous cultures and languages, create user-friendly finding aids, and develop online content in order to highlight these documents and enhance access to them.
  22. LAC will assist in building archival and library capacity in First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation communities and will also provide preservation storage to communities who do not yet have such capacity, without transferring ownership to LAC. We will also collaborate with First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation to ensure that non-governmental archival records from their communities are preserved according to their preferences, whether at LAC or locally.
  23. LAC will prioritize the preferences of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation communities when handling and caring for sensitive material created by or about their respective communities.
  24. We will promote Indigenous heritage collections through online content and social media, with a special focus on First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation audiences.
  25. We will provide financial support to Indigenous-led organizations for potential archival and library projects related to Indigenous heritage and histories.
  26. We will partner with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation communities and organizations to support their efforts to preserve and digitize their culture and language recordings, as part of LAC’s new Listen, Hear Our Voices initiative.
  27. We will facilitate events developed with Indigenous perspectives to promote knowledge and understanding of the histories of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation communities, as well as of the role of archives and libraries in reconciliation.
  28. We will create and co-create exhibitions dedicated to First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation histories, to be hosted at LAC or at partner institutions.


Library and Archives Canada Exhibits of Record Holdings
Listen Hear Our Voices

Oct. 1, 2020 – Second round of funding for up to $60,000 per project to support their efforts to identify, digitize and preserve Indigenous language recordings, and build digitization and preservation capacity in their communities. Indigenous organizations are encouraged to submit applications until noon on December 11, 2020 (Pacific Standard Time)

Jan. 6, 2020 – Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is providing $2.3 million to support 31 projects by First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation organizations. As part of the Government of Canada’s reconciliation efforts, LAC is supporting Indigenous communities as they seek to preserve and make accessible their existing audio and video heritage for future generations.

“Listen, Hear Our Voices” Contribution Funding recipients


May 15, 2019 – Calling for applications to fund the digitization of culture and language recordings from cassette and VHS tapes. Eligible projects can focus on the digitization of records, training and equipment. However, funding cannot be used to create new recordings.


Pathways was developed under a collaborative agreement between the Toronto Public Library and Library and Archives Canada.

Land and water routes across what is now Ontario reveal layers of Indigenous knowledge, resistance and presence that connect from time immemorial to the present and future. This exhibit features works by contemporary Indigenous artists as well as historical materials from the collections of the Toronto Public Library and Library and Archives Canada. 

Hidden in Plain Sight

Library and Archives Canada has a wide variety of archival documents pertaining to the Métis Nation, including textual records, photographs, artwork, maps, stamps and sound recordings. This exhibition explores the portrayal of Métis Citizens—some of whom are “hiding in plain sight”—in art and photographic collections and the accompanying descriptions, and aims to foster a better understanding of the history and the culture of the Métis Nation.

  • The Métis Nation traces its origins to the Red River Valley area of North America. By the 20th century, the Métis had developed a unique culture and identity, which led them to be called otipêymisowak—the independent ones.
  • The Métis developed their own language, Michif. A unique mix of French and Plains Cree languages, Michif is still spoken by Métis today.
  • LAC holds a great variety of archival materials relating to the Métis Nation, including textual records, photographs, artwork, maps, stamps and sound recordings.

Library and Archives Canada would like to recognize the knowledge and expertise provided by the Métis National Council and the Manitoba Metis Federation in the creation of this exhibition.

Official Federal Government Response: Sept. 5, 2019

As part of the Government of Canada’s Indigenous language and culture revitalization agenda, $14.9 million was announced in Budget 2017 for the digitization of First Nations, Inuit and Métis-related content in Library and Archives Canada (LAC)’s collections and for preservation and digitization support for communities holding Indigenous language recordings. In this context, LAC implemented 2 initiatives and hired 10 indigenous archivists:

  • Listen, Hear Our Voices offers free services and funding to Indigenous communities to help digitize and preserve First Nations, Inuit and Métis culture and language recordings. Seven archivists, based in traditional territories, were hired by LAC to deliver tailored services to participating Indigenous communities
  • We are here: Sharing Stories focuses on increasing free online access to LAC’s holdings that contain content related to Indigenous peoples. All descriptive work for newly digitized material is being led by 3 Indigenous archivists on the project team, ensuring content is culturally relevant, sensitive and historically accurate.

Since 2017, LAC has done the following to support First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples’ access to records related to Indian Residential Schools, material relevant to their own distinct cultural heritages and to support research for land claims and other legal cases:

  • developed new online content and reference tools
  • made available the Truth and Reconciliation Commission web archives
  • piloted public programming to address and gain a better understanding of the research needs and interests of local indigenous communities
  • planned new exhibitions related to indigenous culture and residential schools
  • modified its internal Access to Information request process

LAC has established an Advisory Circle of Indigenous representatives to ensure that First Nations, Inuit and Métis partners are engaged at all stages of initiatives that affect, or are about, their lives and their histories. At the same time, LAC continues to engage individuals at the local level for projects that are unique to certain communities, groups, families and peoples. The newly formed Youth Advisory Committee also has an Indigenous representation to ensure proper engagement at all levels.

In addition, LAC created, in concert with the Indigenous Advisory Circle, an ambitious multi-year action plan that covers the breadth of its activities related to Indigenous heritages and histories. The plan presents 28 actions LAC is taking to recognize Indigenous rights and increase access to LAC’s collection. It has been made public to ensure transparency and accountability.

Finally, LAC is collaborating with galleries, libraries, archives, museums, other cultural institutions and Indigenous organizations, including the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, the Vancouver Public Library and the UBC Indian Residential Schools History and Dialogue Centre, to share information and develop public programming initiatives to ensure residential school history is preserved and made known.