Turtle Island

Turtle Island

The Turtle Island Cluster is situated in two regions of Canada, Vancouver and Ottawa, with two graphic narratives emerging through the collaboration of Indigenous co-leads, Shannon Leddy and Duncan McCue, Indian Residential School survivors and two Indigenous graphic novelists.

Each graphic novel explores the impact of the Canadian Indian Residential School system from a different perspective, providing new narratives of these experiences to deepen and nuance our shared understanding of the trauma, survivance, and the legacy of colonial violence on Turtle Island. Further, because we prioritise transparency in our research methodology, the process of testimony gathering and graphic novel production at each site will also be the subject of a short documentary film. This additional media expands both our multimodal storytelling knowledge mobilisation strategy, but also increases the potential reach of our work to engage those who may otherwise not encounter it.

We respectfully acknowledge that the UBC Vancouver-Point Grey academic campus is located on the traditional, ancestral, unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), and UBC operations in Vancouver are also on the territories of the Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh). We hold our hands up to the people of these lands and thank them for the care they have taken here for millennia. We are grateful to be guests on this land as we live work and play here.

Carleton University acknowledges the location of its campus on the traditional, unceded territories of the Algonquin nation. In doing so, Carleton acknowledges it has a responsibility to the Algonquin people and a responsibility to adhere to Algonquin cultural protocols.

Research Foundations

The Turtle Island Research Cluster is dedicated to preserving the unique narratives of Indian Residential School survivors. Through co-creative partnerships between survivors and Indigenous artists, we aim to honour the agency and dignity of each survivor’s experience. Our inclusive governance structure is guided by principles such as Indigenous sovereignty and relationality and draws from traditional forms of knowledge keeping and storytelling to advance best practices for engaging with survivor testimonies within and beyond Indigenous contexts.

The project fosters opportunities for healing through storytelling and the expansion of community networks and support structures. For the project, collecting testimonies will enable the development of impactful teaching resources and contribute to trauma-informed teaching and research practices. By validating community experiences, seeking to understand the impact of the Residential School system and transgenerational trauma in Indigenous families, the Turtle Island cluster endeavours to honour storytelling traditions as forms of knowledge mobilization and knowledge keeping, recognizing stories of lived experience as reflective of ways of knowing. Additionally, it supports and validates Indigenous success and creativity by commissioning the work of an Indigenous graphic novelist and fostering relationships between survivors and Indigenous artists, centering them as the ultimate authority in the creation and execution of the graphic narrative. Finally, the project prioritizes Indigenous holistic thinking and practices, enriching the larger project and offering a model for future research creation through graphic art on Indigenous and decolonizing themes.

This commitment to Indigenous sovereignty and cultural protocols underscores our dedication to honoring and validating community experiences and understanding. Through training in trauma-informed engagement, we strive to enhance research practices and community support structures, ultimately contributing to the broader goals of truth, reconciliation, and human rights education.


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