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'How to Share your Truth': Ideologies of Language and Affect in Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission

'How to Share your Truth': Ideologies of Language and Affect in Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission
15 King's College Circle, University College UC185
Time: Feb 27th, 1:00 pm End: Feb 27th, 3:00 pm
Interest Categories: Linguistics (FAS), Law, Faculty of , Indigenous, History (FAS), Historical Studies (UTM), Historical and Cultural Studies (UTSC), Education, Critical Theory, Canada, Anthropology (UTSC), Anthropology (UTM), Anthropology (FAS), 2000-, 1950-2000, 1900-1950, 1800-1900
Workshop with UofT Canadian Studies graduate student network

The University of Toronto Canadian Studies Graduate Student Network presents

Arie Molema, PhD candidate, Anthropology

"How to Share Your Truth": Ideologies of Language and Affect in Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission


  • Erika Finestone, PhD student, Anthropology
  • Jennifer Gibson, PhD student, Anthropology

Canada’s ongoing Truth and Reconciliation Commission aims to provide a forum through which Indigenous testimonies on Indian Residential School experiences can be told, as part of its mandate to “lead the way to respect through reconciliation.”  The Commission urges residential school survivors to “share their truth,” drawing on ideologies of language and affect that presuppose that the public sharing of residential school abuse is necessarily healing, both for the survivor and more broadly, for Canada as a nation.  My research examines and problematizes these ideologies, and explores their significance for the direction of Indigenous-state relations in Canada.  Drawing on participant observation at the Commission and interviews with Labrador Inuit residential school survivors, I complicate the Commission’s ideologies of healing speech, by analyzing the broader social processes and power relations in which survivor testimonies are enmeshed.  Dominant discourses both at the Commission and the broader Canadian public sphere impose expectations for how Indigenous peoples should speak, which speakers may internalize, resist, or strategically repurpose.  Linking the speech acts of testimony, public apology, and expressions of reconciliation at the truth commission to the broader Canadian social and political context, I return to Gayatri Spivak’s famous interrogation of the audibility and legibility of the subaltern subject, and explore the possibilities and limitations of Indigenous testimony within the politics of historical memory in settler colonial Canada.​

This event is free and open to all.  For further information, please contact University College at (416) 978-8083.

For further information about the Canadian Studies Graduate Student Network, contact Professor Emily Gilbert at emily.gilbert@utoronto.ca.

Download flyer [pdf]



Stay tuned for announcements about workshops for the 2015 CSGSN research grant recipients:

Gabriel Arsenault (Political Science)
Yun Emily Wang (Ethnomusicology)
Chi Cheng Wat (Sociology)

Now in its second year, the U of T Canadian Studies Graduate Student Network (CSGSN) creates opportunities for interdisciplinary connection among graduate students who are engaged in research on Canada across the Humanities and Social Sciences. Network activities include: graduate research grants ($1000) for scholarship on Canada or in Canadian studies; workshops for graduate students to present and receive friendly but rigorous feedback on their work; and other opportunities for faculty, graduate students and advanced undergraduates to share insights and resources across diverse disciplinary formations.

To stay in the loop about ongoing CSGSN activities, please visit http://www.uc.utoronto.ca/people.

The Canadian Studies program is a thriving undergraduate program based at University College. Efforts are underway to develop and expand the research profile of the study of Canada at U of T. The university has among the largest numbers of researchers on Canada in the world, but as of yet no mechanism to draw these scholars into conversation. The CSGSN is a key part of these initiatives.

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