Creating New Stories: The Role of Evaluation in Truth and Reconciliation

  • Larry Bremner


This paper describes the origins of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, with the focus on how evaluators and their professional associations can contribute to truth and reconciliation. At the professional association level, the actions that the Canadian Evaluation Society has taken in committing itself to incorporating truth and reconciliation into its values, principles, and practices are highlighted. At the individual level, evaluators are challenged to refl ect on their practice. As storytellers, evaluators have been complicit in telling stories that, while highlighting the damaging legacy of residential schools, have had little influence on changing the status quo for Indigenous peoples and communities. The need to reconsider who should be telling the stories and what stories should be told are critical issues upon which evaluators must refl ect. The way forward also needs to include a move toward a more holistic view, incorporating the interaction between human and natural systems, thus better refl ecting an Indigenous, rather than a Western, worldview. The imperative for evaluators, both in Canada and globally, to see Indigenous peoples “as creators of their own destinies and experts in their own realities” is essential if evaluation is to

Author Biography

Larry Bremner

Mr. Bremner has worked in research and evaluation since the early 1970's. In 1984 he established Proactive Information Services Inc. to provide social research services to the not-for-profit and public sectors. Through Proactive he has assisted organizations (such as government departments, museums, parks, justice agencies, school districts, post-secondary institutions, community-based agencies, health care providers, and volunteer organizations) in meeting their information and evaluation needs. He has worked throughout Canada, in Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe, as well as in Mongolia.

Throughout his research career, Mr. Bremner has worked extensively in the areas of program review and evaluation, information synthesis, and the design and coordination of large-scale studies. He is recognized for his methodological expertise and his ability to synthesize learnings from his many experiences, bringing significant insights to each new project. He is also known for his slightly wacky sense of humour.

Mr. Bremner has conducted training/workshops on program evaluation, questionnaire design, focus groups, team building, facilitation skills, action planning, and the implementation of organizational change.

Mr. Bremner, a member of the Manitoba Métis Federation, is passionate about issues of equity and access. He believes that participatory approaches to research and evaluation can foster the empowerment of traditionally disenfranchised groups, while at the same time improving our important public institutions.