Discover Professors Brieg Capitaine and Karine Vanthuyne’s new book “Power through Testimony”

Posted on Friday, September 22, 2017

Book cover: Power through Testimony Reframing Residential Schools in the Age of Reconciliation

Professors Brieg Capitaine and Karine Vanthuyne published the book Power through Testimony: Reframing Residential Schools in the Age of Reconciliation.To get a copy of the book, please visit, UBC Press.


Power through Testimony documents how survivors are remembering and reframing our understanding of residential schools in the wake of the 2007 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), a forum for survivors, families, and communities to share their memories and stories with the Canadian public. The commission closed and reported in 2015, and this timely volume reveals what happened on the ground.

Drawing on field research during the commission and in local communities, the contributors reveal how survivors are unsettling colonial narratives about residential schools and how the churches and former school staff are receiving or resisting the “new” residential school story. Part 1 details how residential schools have been understood and represented by various groups and individuals over time and how survivors’ testimonies at the commission are changing those representations. Part 2 examines whether the stories of abuse and trauma now circulating are overpowering less sensational stories, preventing other voices and memories from surfacing in local communities. Part 3 explores how the churches and former school staff have received this new testimony and what their response means for future relations with Aboriginal peoples across the country.

Power through Testimony shows that by bringing to light new stories about residential schools and by encouraging the denunciation of other historical wrongs, the TRC was more than a symbolic act. Ultimately, however, the contributors question the power of the TRC to unsettle dominant colonial narratives about residential schools and transform the relationship between Indigenous people and Canadian society.

As one of the first books published on Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Power through Testimony will be of interest to students and scholars of Aboriginal studies, anthropology, and colonial studies and all Canadians interested in transitional justice and human rights.

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