Critical Cartography

Decolonising and Participatory Cartographies

4610.3 - Emergence, Reflexivity and Collaboration: The Residential Schools Land Memory Mapping Project

Tuesday, July 4
3:30 PM - 3:50 PM
Location: Coolidge

On June 11, 2008, the Canadian prime minister formally apologized to the Indian Residential Schools survivors in Canada. This apology, the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement, and the creation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate the Residential Schools Legacy, are all part of a broader international trend toward reconciling the harms done to Indigenous peoples by colonial systems. In an age when reconciliation is a household word, public engagement with mapping is increasing in a variety of ways. Collaborative approaches to cartography can enhance reconciliation initiatives by providing a unique vehicle for storytelling and sharing. The cybercartographic Residential Schools Land Memory Mapping Project (RSLMMP, which is funded by a five-year Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Grant), provides a good example of a reflexive and emergent approach to collaborative cartography and participatory GIS.
This relatively new cybercartographic atlas project began in May 2015, and builds on previous work at the Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre (Carleton University, Ottawa Canada). The project’s immediate prehistory began in May 2007 under an Inukshuk Wireless Grant, which resulted in the Treaties Module of the prototype Cybercartographic Atlas of Indigenous Perspectives and Knowledge in April 2008. The Treaties Module was transformed into the Cybercartographic Lake Huron Treaty Atlas between 2009 and 2012 under a SSHRC Standard Research Grant, with the addition of 27 new working maps – including the Residential Schools Map – and conversion to an improved Nunaliit Atlas Framework ( A SSHRC Public Outreach Grant (2012-2014) supported further technological improvements, new maps and the creation of new research relationships, some of which are being continued under this project. In addition to this immediate prehistory, cybercartography and the various atlas projects it has framed provide a more distant though no less important source of prehistory to inform the RSLMMP.
Proceeding in a transdisciplinary manner, this five-year project involves a network of individuals that includes academics, student research assistants, artists and Indigenous community members, with the aim to eventually include high school students and Residential Schools survivors in the collaborative atlas-making processes. While at first glance, a cybercartographic atlas is an interactive multimedia website with maps, it is also the collaborative processes that go into making the atlas maps.
In addition to the standard project outputs related to knowledge dissemination such as journal articles and conference presentations, this project seeks to launch a new Cybercartographic Residential Schools Land Memory Atlas upon its completion. This Atlas will be comprised of a number of map modules. Significant among these will be map modules relating to six specific case study schools. The research to produce these modules has thus far involved work at the intersection of archival studies and cybercartography; and, an initial prototype has been produced, in addition to several reflexivity oriented modules aimed at tracking the emergent and iterative nature of the collaborative design and development processes.
In this paper, we provide an overview of both the transdisciplinary processes and the progress that our team has made to date with respect to the collaborative design and development of the Cybercartographic Residential Schools Land Memory Atlas, including comments on ways that we have incorporated the “talk, templates and tradition” model elaborated by David Turnbull in Masons, Tricksters and Cartographers to guide this iterative enterprise. These processes include such aspects as “training” student research assistants from disciplines including archival studies, (and, by extension, the other team members); and, in turn, incorporating their specialized knowledge into the atlas development process. In our discussion, we illustrate how our emergent and reflexive approach provides a valuable contribution to critical cartography, GIS and society.

Stephanie A. Pyne

Post Doctoral Research Fellow
Carleton University

I am a member of the Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre at Carleton University (directed by D.R. Fraser Taylor). My doctoral research involved the collaborative creation of the SSHRC funded cybercartographic Lake Huron Treaty Atlas (D.R. Fraser Taylor, PI). My post-doctoral work involves collaborative ongoing Atlas-making processes under the SSHRC funded cybercartographic Residential Schools Land Memory Mapping Project (D.R. Fraser Taylor, PI). I have co-written several articles with D.R Fraser Taylor in Cartographica, Geomatica, and the International Journal of Digital Earth. I am a continuing visiting professor at the University of Bergamo for a master’s course in intercultural geography.


Send Email for Stephanie Pyne

D. R. Fraser Taylor

Chancellor's Distinguished Research Professor
Carleton University

Dr. D. R. Fraser Taylor is Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Professor and Director of the Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. He has been recognized as one of the world’s leading cartographers and a pioneer in the introduction of the use of the computer in cartography. He also has a strong background in international development and has published widely in this field. His interests in cartography and international development are often combined as he uses geographic information processing to address development issues. In 2014 he was recipient of the prestigious Killam Prize for the Social Sciences.


Send Email for D. R. Fraser Taylor

Jeremy Crampton

University of Kentucky

Professor of Geography, Department of Geography, University of Kentucky. My interests are in critical cartography and GIS, geosurveillance and geoprivacy, spatial Big Data, and the thought of Michel Foucault.


Send Email for Jeremy Crampton


4610.3 - Emergence, Reflexivity and Collaboration: The Residential Schools Land Memory Mapping Project

Attendees who have favorited this

Please enter your access key

The asset you are trying to access is locked. Please enter your access key to unlock.

Send Email for Emergence, Reflexivity and Collaboration: The Residential Schools Land Memory Mapping Project