Stephanie Scott is the first Indigenous woman to take the lead for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) at the University of Manitoba (U of M).
On Wednesday, NCTR announced that Scott was appointed as the new Executive Director. She is an Anishinaabe woman from Roseau River First Nation and is also a Sixties Scoop survivor.
Scott worked as NCTR’s Director of Operations since 2016. Before that, she worked with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as the Statement Gathering Manager.
“I am honoured that I was selected to continue the work of reconciliation on behalf of NCTR,” Scott told Winnipeg Sun on Thursday.
When Scott was born, she was immediately taken from her birth mother who was a residential school survivor.
Scott was part of the Sixties Scoop when over 20,000 Indigenous children were removed from their birth families and communities to be fostered out, or adopted into predominantly non-Indigenous families across North America.
Due to this, one of her priorities is to connect these missing children with their families because she believes they need closure about members that have passed away in the residential schools and provide an understanding of their deaths.
“I have twin daughters and four grandchildren. Every day when I return from work, they remind me of the survivors that I work with because they were only children when they were taken away,” she said.
“When I look at my grandchildren, who are only five and six, that is the age when some of these young people were taken from their communities and placed into residential schools. I want to help repair that.”
Under Scott’s leadership, the centre will move forward with its next phase of development including the making of a brand-new searchable database and planning for a new archives building which is part of the Missing Children project.
The new accessible website will display multiple resources to create necessary educational programs to move Canada forward in its enactment of the TRC’s calls to action.
NCTR has successfully installed and tested its new content management system with more than 12 million digital objects migrated with descriptions for long-term preservation.
Recently, the centre has also received funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s Innovation Fund to restructure and decolonize its digital archival records to promote innovative research meaningful to Indigenous communities.
“We are going to be developing statistical workshops with Indigenous communities to consult with us regarding how to access NCTR records to be responsive to their needs,” said Scott.
“We will be preserving all survivor records, private statements and footages of the TCR community and national events, working alongside the Nation Film Board of Canada to ensure they are available well into the future.”
During her time as an Executive Director, she would like to see a brand new building for NCTR so visitors can learn about the different cultural traditions of the survivors.
“We will be taking a look at a capital fundraising plan to develop the building and a space that could be an international learning lounge so Canadians, survivors and their families can come to learn about their truths and histories,” said Scott.
— Nicole Wong is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
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Nicole Wong, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun