Active History Archives Theme Week

Archives Venn DiagramI’m overjoyed by how the Active History Archives Theme Week has come together.  This week emerged after the ‘secret archives’ new story and the subsequent response from the archival community.  The goal of the theme week is to foster discussion between archivists and historians.  Posts in the week tackle issues of archival labour, how private records end up in archives, the legacy of colonial collecting practices, collaboration within archives, and archival outreach.

The theme week includes the following posts: (I’ll update with hyperlinks to the posts once they are live on Active History)

Many thanks to all of the fantastic archivists who contributed to this series.

Sharing, Healing and Learning: Survivor Driven History

Shingwauk rEsidential School

Shingwauk Residential School, circa 1960. Source: Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre.

My latest piece “Sharing, Healing and Learning: Survivor Driven History at the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre” was recently published in Education Forum the magazine of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF).

The article discusses the history of the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre (SRSC), the importance of shifting the historical narrative to the Survivor point of view, and the idea of the SRSC as a living archive focused on engagement.  This engagement piece is something that is very dear to my heart and is at the core of my public history and archival practice.

Writing with Education Forum was a great experience.  Many thanks to editor Michael Young for the opportunity and his support throughout the process.

Tours of the Shingwauk and Wawanosh Residential Schools Site

The third peice I wrote last year for Canada’s History is now up on their re-designed website.  My piece on “Tours of the Shingwauk and Wawanosh Residential Schools Site” talks briefly about the history of the Shingwauk and Wawanosh Indian Residential Schools, the range of historic site tours provided by the Shingwauk Indian Residential School, and the emotional impact which can be associated with these tours.

As the busy tour season approaches at Shingwauk I’ve been thinking a lot about the delivery of this programming and that role it plays in educating people about residential schools, colonialism, and Indigenous communities.

Historian’s Histories Interview

Microphone

Public Domain Image

I was recently interviewed as part of the Historian’s Histories series on the fantastic Unwritten Histories site.

I am extremly greatful for the work that Andrea Eidinger does through her site and delighted to have been asked to particiapte in her interview series.  I talk about my history roots, my love for public history, and how I use a public history approach to my archives work.

Archives As Activism

My latest post on “Archives As Activism” can be seen over on Active History. The post explores the connection of archives, activism, and community.

It discusses the idea that archives can disrupt social norms by collecting and archiving the work of those outside of mainstream society.  The piece also dives into examples of Canadian archives who have made an effort to collect material relating to activist movements.

Occupy Vancover signs.

Occupy Vancouver signs, 2011. Public Domain image.

Who Was Brian Vallée?

Last year I wrote a few posts for Canada’s History education section on their website. However because of website revamps some of that content was delayed in getting posted.  My second piece “Who was Brian Vallée?” is now available on their site.

This piece talks about Brian Vallée as an award winning author, journalist, film producer and Vallée’s work to raise awareness about domestic violence.  It also discusses different forms outreach to building awareness about the Brian Vallée’s life and his fonds held at Algoma University.  Brian Vallée’s lack of digital presence was one of the reason I initially became involved in editing Wikipedia – so it was nice to revisit and think about different forms of community and digital outreach.

Rapport Active History Interviews

Used under CC0.4 license.

My Active History colleague Daniel Ross and I were recently e-interviewed by Risa Gluskin for Rapport the Ontario History & Social Sciences Teachers’ Association blog.  Our interviews are part of Rapport‘s Doing History series which profiles “people working in the area of history but not necessarily as history teachers.”

The interview with Daniel looks at some of the some of the ideas behind active history and public history.  If you are unsure of what active history or public history is Daniel does a great job of breaking down these ideas and showcasing ways in which people can be involved in both active and public history.  The interview also includes a segment exploring Daniel’s interest in urban history.  My interview discusses my public history roots, how I entered the archival profession and my reconciliation work through the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre.

Many thanks to Risa and OHSSTA for showcasing Active History and our work.

Teaching the Legacy of the Sixties Scoop and Addressing Ongoing Child Welfare Inequality in the Classroom

My latest post “Teaching the Legacy of the Sixties Scoop and Addressing Ongoing Child Welfare Inequality in the Classroom” can be found on Active History. This post look at the connection between colonialism, the residential school era and the sixties scoop.  It also discusses ways in which historians and educators can incorporate sixties scoop history into their classroom spaces.

Writing, Editing, and Imposter Syndrome

editingLast fall I was struggling to submit an article I had been working on for over a year.  The paper had already undergone significant revision based on feedback including a complete overhaul of its central argument and structure.  The article was at the point where I had been tweaking it for months.  I kept reading more, adding in a few additional sources, and was spending hours antagonizing over word choice and grammar.  The paper was starting to be something I didn’t want to spend any additional time on and something I was causing me fair bit of anxiety mixed in with imposter syndrome.

While all of this was going on I was having a lot of self-doubt in my ability to self-edit, copyedit, and format a paper based on citation style I wasn’t all that familiar with. For a number of years I have edited other people’s work and provided constructive feedback to others on their academic and fiction work.  However I didn’t feel competent when addressing my own work.  After a lot of back and forth and internal arguing with myself I ended up seeking outside copyediting help.  I ultimately paid for copyediting services from a professional who specializes in academic writing.

The relief that came with making that decision was huge.  It helped take something off of my plate that I was struggling with and helped put things in perspective.  You can be a great writer and still suck a copyediting.  They are completely different practices and it is always harder to pick apart your own work.  I understand that not everyone is in the space where they can pay for this type of service, but I think as an option it is something that needs to be talked about.  Academics use professional editors for a whole host of different reasons.  And if your work ends up being accepted you’re going to be working with an editor and copyeditor eventually.  But it tends to be something we don’t talk about.  Personally, I started to question if using an editor devalued my work.  It doesn’t.  Copyediting doesn’t change your ideas or make your arguments for you – it’s about making your writing conform to accepted academic publishing norms, which can vary greatly from publication to publication.

I think imposter syndrome around the publication process is something we need to talk about.  We also need to talk about how we cope with moving past publication related anxiety and how to create an environment that supports new and mid-career professionals in the publication process. I firmly believe in the idea of a peer-nurturing environment where we help lift up each other and help support each other.  For me that means having that group of colleagues who you can talk to and mentors who you turn to for advice, even when things seem impossible to overcome. It also means sharing what knowledge I have with others and finding ways to amplify the voices of others while lifting them up.

Reflection: 2016 Accomplishments

1469923511-mc-hp-1For the past few years I’ve reflected on my professional practice and accomplishments at the end of the year.  I’m going to continue that tradition with this blog post albeit in a slightly more list based format than the reflective posts I’ve done in the past.

In 2016 I did a lot of things including:

Talks and Presentations

  • In March I spoke as part of aFinding the Embedded Archivist” panel at the National Council for Public History annual meeting in Baltimore, MD.
  • This year I provided instructional programming to over 1,250 people.  The bulk of these instruction sessions related to residential schools, the history of the Shingwauk Indian Residential School, and reconciliation.  However a handful were also related to teaching about archives and archival literacy.
    • As part of this work I’ve taken a serious look at how I present residential school history and revamped my instruction practices to make sure I’m giving priority to Indigenous voices.

Committee Work

  • I was appointed as the co-chair of the membership committee for the National Council on Public History
  • In August I was appointed to the Steering Committee on Canada’s Archives (SCCA) – Response to the Report on the Truth and Reconciliation Task Force.   I am really honoured to be part of this committee and engaged in this important work relating to Indigenous communities and archives.

Outreach

  • I started seriously editing Wikipedia.  This was a bit of a rabbit hole for me – it initially started as a way to expand some of the archival outreach I do and evolved into a hobbie and something I really enjoy. I also organized a small edit-a-thon at Algoma University geared toward increasing content relating to Indigenous women on Wikipedia.
  • I spearheaded the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre’s contributions to the Archives of Ontario Family Ties: Ontario Turns 150 exhibition.
  • I curated and co-curated a number of smaller scale exhibitions on campus including one about local author Brian Vallée, and one focusing on Indigenous Women Activists and the Water Walk movement.
  • I setup and have been maintaining social media accounts for the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre. I also learned a bit more about different tools to help schedule and manage this outreach work.

Self-Care and Other Priorities

  • I kept with my commitment to make my physical health a priority.  I’ve been consistent in going to the gym on a regular basis and have been trying to eat better.
  • After much years of debate my partner and I made a decision to move.  We’ve bought and house and will be moving in 2017.  This move will mean I’m much closer to my work, it will cut down my commute significantly, and result in me getting to spend more time with my daughter.
  • I’ve been meeting regularly as part of two writing groups – an academic one (online) and a non-fiction group.  Both of these have been key in keeping me motivated on some ongoing projects.
  • In November I was honured to stand beside my sister as during her wedding.
  • I’m raising a funny, energy filled 2 year old who can identify Doctor Who on my t-shirts and who loves playing tea time.

At the end of 2016 I am very grateful for great colleagues, a community of public historians who energize and inspire, and challenging conversations.   Onward.