Brandon Indian Residential School Mobile Learning Centre on exhibit at BU

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BRANDON – A travelling exhibit of images from the former Brandon Indian Residential School will be on display for the public in the John E. Robbins Library at Brandon University (BU) until Friday, Oct. 20.

The Brandon Indian Residential School Mobile Learning Centre is designed to educate and promote next steps on the journey of reconciliation. The Learning Centre features 27 large format photos, which span the history of the school.

The Brandon Industrial School, as it was named when it first opened, operated from 1895 to 1970 at a site just west of the current location of the Brandon Research and Development Centre on Grand Valley Road. It was administered first by the Mission Board of the Methodist Church, and after 1925 by The United Church of Canada. A formal apology was issued in 1998 by the church to former students, and to their families, and communities.

In 2014 a planning team was organized in Brandon to consider ways to educate the community about the history of the school and to connect with the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. The team included participants from Brandon University, Sioux Valley, members of the community, and the United Church of Canada (UCC).

Money was raised in Westman UCC congregations and grants were received from the UCC’s Justice and Reconciliation Fund and from the Conference of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario to develop photographs from the school and begin the formation of a mobile learning centre. Foto Source Brandon Photographics provided expertise, developed the archival photos, and donated time to the project.

The Centre is a local response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action
No. 59, which calls on churches to educate communities about the effects of colonization and the history and legacy of residential schools. Through interacting with this exhibit, we remember our history, the history and legacy of residential schools, that there may be sharing, mourning, healing, and transformation. The goal is to promote awareness (truth) and to create opportunities for new relationships to grow between Indigenous and non-indigenous neighbours (reconciliation) in order that justice may be fostered in our community and country.

The Learning Centre complements and provides added context to another travelling exhibition that is currently on display at the John E. Robbins Library. That exhibition, 100 Years of Loss: The Residential School System in Canada, was developed by the Legacy of Hope Foundation and will also be on display until Oct. 20.

For all viewers of the exhibition, the BU library has set aside a separate, private space for reflection, grief, or healing after viewing. Additional semi-private space for these purposes is also available in the Indigenous Peoples’ Centre, directly adjacent to the library in the George T. Richardson Centre.


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