Based on her experiences as an expert witness in Canadian litigation related to Aboriginal peoples, the author shares some personal reflections on the use of the written record as “evidence” in a legal context. As end users in a litigation context will be constructing their own narratives, a historian can add value in the courtroom by sharing skills in analyzing and providing context for written materials as well as providing a narrative based on their content. This process of simultaneously constructing and deconstructing a narrative can support the legitimacy of multiple narratives and provide space for evidence of other types, particularly oral evidence.
Documentary Evidence and the Construction of Narratives in Legal and Historical Contexts
Gwynneth C. D. Jones has thirty years of experience in policy development, historical research, and negotiations on issues related to Aboriginal land and natural resource harvesting claims. After eleven years with the Government of Ontario working on Aboriginal issues and research, she returned to her Vancouver home to practise as an independent historian. She has been engaged by governments, First Nations, and Métis organizations to conduct historical research on a variety of issues for litigation, negotiation and consultation processes.
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Gwynneth C. D. Jones; Documentary Evidence and the Construction of Narratives in Legal and Historical Contexts. The Public Historian 1 February 2015; 37 (1): 88–94. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2015.37.1.88
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