Canada’s Residential Schools and the Futures of Commemoration
Wednesday, Dec. 7 | 12:30 pm PT | 223 Moses | RSVP here
Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2008-15) was formed to examine Canada’s Indian Residential Schools system, which had forcibly removed children from their families and communities since the 19th century, and its devastating effects on generations of indigenous citizens. Although it concluded that the system was a “policy of cultural genocide” and produced a list of “94 Calls to Action” in an attempt to repair relations, the commission was criticised as being ineffective; however, it did bring the issue of the residential schools to the forefront of the public consciousness and acknowledge a trauma that had been previously forgotten or denied. The trauma, however, has still not been addressed; in 2021, after the discovery of unmarked graves at former residential schools in the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and British Columbia, multiple commemorative events were held across Canada to protest the lack of action by state and provincial authorities. In response, the Canadian government pledged to fund the creation of a national monument to commemorate the victims of the Indian Residential School system, and are currently debating how this will be achieved.
This presentation examines how Canada’s Indian Residential Schools have been recently represented in select Canadian films and museums. Building on Raymond Williams’s notion of “structures of feeling” – feelings and affective states that are associated with a group at a specific time and place that are captured and evoked in art and culture – this presentation examines how these films and museums do not only represent the trauma that occurred, but also provide affective experiences to the viewer/visitor, thus commemorating the victims and the traumas experienced in both cognitive and affective ways.
About the Speaker
Corey Schultz is an associate professor in media and communication studies at the University of Nottingham Ningbo China and the recipient of a 2022 John A. Sproul Fellowship from UC Berkeley Canadian Studies. He is the author of Moving Figures: Class and Feelings in the Films of Jia Zhangke (University of Edinburgh Press, 2018) and the co-editor of China’s International Communication and Relationship Building (Routledge, 2022). His research has been published in Screen, Visual Communication, Moving Image Review & Art Journal, Asian Cinema, Film-Philosophy, the International Journal of Heritage Studies, and Museum Management and Curatorship.