BEYOND RECOVERY: HEALING AND CANADA’S TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION
This thesis explores the concept of healing used by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and survivors as a conceptual tool to address and redress the legacy of residential schools. Using public testimony and selected interviews, I explore how the TRC’s statement-gathering process is perceived and experienced by survivors. This thesis also documents the personal tensions and political limits encountered during the implementation of a globalized, institutional process of truth-telling applied to resolve diverse and localized ‘traumas’ experienced by students enrolled in dozens of residential schools. This approach illustrates the inherent shortcomings of a top-down approach to solving residential school issues, drawing on the public testimonies of survivors to identify tensions between a national process and survivor-led and community-based alternatives for healing. Despite its intention to create a forum that allows survivors to tell their story about residential schools, the TRC has also, often, been used as space of political activism and social critique. Survivors have used the public testimonial spaces offered by the TRC to both critique the Canadian government’s commitment to reconciliation and also to demand more effective forms of redress, which have subtly shaped and transformed the TRC during its mandate. Thus, while I draw attention to institutional practices, ideologies and power relations shaping the TRC, I also emphasize how people perceive, engage and transform the process as a result.
Truth and Reconciliation, Healing, Medical Anthropology
Master of Arts (M.A.)
Archaeology and Anthropology