The history of residential schools is a source of contention for Canada’s museums.

The history of residential schools
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The Canadian Museum of History said last month that it will cancel its Canada Day festivities after unmarked graves were discovered at the sites of old residential schools throughout the nation, one of several changes it is undertaking in the aftermath of the tragic discovery.

The museum in Gatineau, Que., said in an email that further adjustments are in the works, including signs outlining the history and current impact of residential schools, a content warning for exhibitions that tackled the issue, and a thorough assessment of its content.

The museums’ responses varied: some cited long-running exhibitions created in collaboration with Indigenous people, others held ceremonies to honor residential school victims and survivors, and a few stated that they had long-term plans to address the problem.

However, a challenging challenge awaits: how can museums present our country’s narrative in a way that correctly depicts the role of Canadian institutions in destroying Indigenous lives and communities through the residential school system?