So I thought I’d share what I’ve been working on on the side: an online version of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report on Canada’s residential schools. The TRC report is a vital resource that weaves together survivors’ testimony and historical records into a thorough, authoritative account of how the government and the churches used residential schools as a means of destroying Indigenous families, languages, and cultures. It’s a part of history many Canadians know very little about.
I started reading the full report in print, but the book was too huge to carry around, and I felt bad about sharing inaccessible photos of text on social media. It’s only online as huge PDF files—not terribly accessible either. There are e-book versions to buy or borrow from the library, but I don’t have an e-book reader. And while the #ReadtheTRCreport YouTube playlist is a fantastic project, I’m not really into video or audio myself. Hence, this project.
If you’re interested, here’s the boring technical details. Basically, I use a command-line program to strip the text out, then lots and lots of regular expressions (basically search-and-replace on steroids) to mark up paragraphs, footnotes, blockquotes, etc.
nano’s Justify and Indent features are handy for formatting. It still requires a lot of proofreading alongside the original PDF.
Currently, the site is hosted on GitHub Pages, a free, built-in service. I will probably move it to its own platform eventually. Nothing too fancy. I want to keep it as lightweight as possible, so even people in the middle of nowhere with crappy Internet connections can download and read it.