The Mohawk Institute, or "Mush Hole" as it was known to its students, was a Residential School located in Brantford, Ontario. It was in operation from 1828 to 1970, making it the longest operating residential school in Canada. While the school was operated by the New England Company (also known as the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England) and the Government of Canada, it was largely staffed and overseen by the Anglican Church of Canada, and in particular, clergy appointed by the Diocese of Huron.
This school directly affected over 4,600 children from at least 60 First Nations. These children were largely from Six Nations of the Grand River, but roughly half the recorded number of children cannot have their home community identified (Survivor's Secretariat, 2022).
The V.P. Cronyn Memorial Archives maintains a collection of records pertaining to the Mush Hole, but in its current state, it is not easily accessible by researchers due to a lack of archival arrangement or proper finding aids. The only comprehensive box list that exists is available only in a hard-copy at the Archives and does not provide contextual details about the contents of the records. The Diocese of Huron recognizes the grave disservice that the state of this collection does to researchers, specifically, Hodinohsho:ni and other First Nations, Inuit, and Métis researchers.
In 2023, the V.P. Cronyn Memorial Archives received funding through the Documentary Heritage Communities Program (DHCP) through Library and Archives Canada. This funding will make it possible to attempt to correct the continuous injustice caused by the state of the Mush Hole records. The collection must be properly arranged and described to archival standard and made as accessible as possible through digitization and sharing of the digitized files with Hodinohsho:ni knowledge institutions.
The Archives have partnered with Six Nations Public Library, Woodland Cultural Centre, and the Survivors' Secretariat to ensure that the work is community-led and centres the information needs and voices of the Hodinohsho:ni community. The DHCP funding is being used to fund the positions of three Archives Assistants from the Hodinohsho:ni community to conduct the work of the rework project. The Diocesan Archivist will work alongside the partners and Archives Assistants to provide guidance and advice from an archival prospective, but will recognize the need to work with the community to challenge harmful colonial methodologies and practices that are inherent in archival practice and find new ways forward. This project will largely be guided by the Reconciliation Framework document that was published in 2022 by the Steering Committee on Canada's Archives.
This project has been made possible by Library and Archives Canada.
Ce projet a été rendu possible grâce à Bibliothèque et Archives Canada.
For more information about the Documentary Heritage Communities Program and the 2023 funded project, please visit the Library and Archives Canada website.
Recovery, reclamation and revitalization. Survivors’ Secretariat. (2022, September 24). https://survivorssecretariat.ca/#about