Anti-Oppression Work

Despite the United Church’s current commitment to equity and justice, the church has played a key role in the complex cultural hierarchical systems of colonialism, racism, sexism, and ableism. Thus, harmful material may be found in both the original archival material as well as in the descriptions and arrangement of those materials.

The United Church of Canada Archives aims to describe new and legacy holdings as accurately and respectfully as possible for the communities that create, use, and are represented within the records. The Archives is committed to identifying problematic language and content in our holdings and to finding more equitable practices that may mitigate any harm to those who use the Archives. This work will be enduring; approaches will need to be flexible to accommodate changing language, greater community input and other professional and/or societal shifts.

The Archives have compiled some resources that users may find helpful.

Reporting Harmful Language or Content

If you encounter any harmful language or content in any of the United Church of Canada Archives descriptions or records, please let us know by filling out this form.

We encourage you to get in touch with us if you would like to discuss your submission or would like to know more about the process.

Summary of Work

The Anti-Oppression Work undertaken by the Archives has been a product of years of work. A timeline of work undertaken to date summarizes the milestones for users. The timeline will be added to when new milestones are reached.

January - March 2023

Photo descriptions on The Children Remembered website are revised in accordance with the Guidelines for Anti-Oppressive Descriptions.

Winter 2022

Anti-Oppression Guidelines are added to the United Church of Canada Archives Website.

Fall 2022

Completed and published revisions to descriptions audited in the spring. Approaches involved:

  • the standardization of community, place and institutional names;
  • the removal of offensive language in titles and notes (original titles maintained for historical context as Variations in Title note field); and
  • the use of content warnings to identify potentially harmful content

Spring 2022

Working Group audited approximately 1000 descriptions relating to residential schools, including all images found on The Children Remembered website for offensive language, misinformation, and sensitive content; Consultation with members of Indigenous Ministries on policy and approaches to remedial work.

Summer/Fall 2021

Formation of the Anti-Oppression Description and Redescription Working Group and development of draft guidelines for anti-oppression description; All staff required to complete racial justice training

January 2021

Development of The United Church of Canada Archives Equity Statement.


Review of anti-racist/anti-oppression work in the archival profession.

Fall 2019

Evaluated legacy subject headings for offensive and/or outdated language and developed more inclusive subject terms.