This article examines the Canadian Museum of Civilization's First Peoples Hall and its treatment of Canada's Indian Residential Schools legacy. Using Michel Foucault's concept of heterotopia, it describes the capacity of the national Aboriginal exhibition to both mirror and distort reality as a means of denaturalizing everyday practices and mainstream treatments of history. It argues that although physical museum exhibits have long worked to lock Aboriginal peoples into static contexts through infrequent updating, political shifts can offer opportunities to amend Aboriginal histories according to contemporary paradigms, but they follow the exigencies of broader agendas. The article points to recent shifts at the Canadian Museum of Civilization to rebrand the museum and orient it toward Canadian history. It suggests that the museum omits contentious Aboriginal histories through abstract and cursory treatment as the Heritage Ministry funds and guides more popular accounts in line with nation-building efforts. It asks why the national museum has not made greater efforts to include more resources relating to Indian Residential Schools, including millions of documents housed in Library and Archives Canada and testimonials compiled as a result of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement and the formation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The article describes alternative models for addressing the residential schools legacy in sites of public memory, including contemporary Aboriginal artwork and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's forthcoming National Research Centre.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Aboriginal, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Canadian Museum of History, First Peoples Hall, Indian Residential Schools, Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0034612
Journal Peace and Conflict
Citation
Brady, M. (2013). The flexible heterotopia: Indian residential schools and the canadian museum of civilization. Peace and Conflict, 19(4), 408–420. doi:10.1037/a0034612