Interactive Online Platform

Pehonan is an online platform that shares the history of Canada’s Residential School Era through yet unpublished personal video testimonies, as well as interactive community features for citizens to share their own experiences. Pehonan offers users the possibility to share their own story (or their family’s story) using our tailored story creation platform. We collected 570 Survivor video testimonies in 16 storytelling gatherings held across Canada from 2006 until 2009 with The Legacy of Hope Foundation (LHF). As of now, this unique material has not been made available to the public.

The lack of stories reflecting Indigenous Peoples’ residential school experience represents a glaring gap in Canadian history. Stories are often unavailable to the Canadian public, and only few projects provide comprehensive information on this matter. The name “Pehonan” (Cree for „gathering place“) reflects our approach of strengthening civic participation through societal discourse along the lines of history.

Target Audiences

Pehonan is designed to be used in educational and cultural institutions (school system, museums), as well as in a private context. Editorial content on the Residential School era aims to inform a key audience between 14-18 years.

Adolescence is a critical shift in the development of social cognition where identity and morality are explored and questioned, and how adolescents see themselves fitting into their social world. Consequently, the Canadian education system is moving towards 21st Century Learning where digital literacy competency will be vital to students in keeping up in a digital world.

Pehonan corresponds with today’s technological infrastructure in schools, museums. Canadian Secondary/Junior and Senior High provide sufficient internet access in the classroom: 73% provide smart boards (interactive boards), 63% use laptops/ notebooks, 63% provide desktop computers (tablets are often used in Kindergarten). Many teachers student-owned devices in the classroom (tablets, smartphones).

With Canada on its current path to healing, Pehonan offers necessary tools to evaluate the Residential School Era from a multitude of perspectives.

Strategies for enabling safety

User anonymity
In order to protect citizens and their privacy, users may use pseudonyms as well as sophisticated review and mediation features: Peer-Review process for stories and Anonymous Submission.

Reputation System
Ensures that active and helpful users gain extended rights and additional actions within the community, while users who are passive cannot interact/intervene on the same level. Not trustworthy individuals are not given the same permissions as users who have been repeatedly rated positively by others.

Group accounts for shielded interactions
Individuals and organizations can set up a group account. Groups offer extra safety for its users. A group nests within the Pehonan community but can only be accessed by members of the group. A moderator (e.g. an educator) elects these members and has additional controls.

Community content control for online publication
Pehonan users may create content that they submit to the general public. With privacy and hate speech issues in mind, it is the Pehonan community that eventually decides if they regard a contribution as valid and interesting content by upvoting it.

Guide users
Guide users help new users to craft their stories and decide when they are ready to be shared with the community. Whenever a guide is needed, the system notifies a number of guides with matching knowledge and interests required for the task. Experienced users will get the opportunity to become guides for other users.


Jamie Bourque