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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.
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.
Last 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.
For 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:
- I had a short article published in Canada’s History Magazine and online on Canada’s History website.
- I wrote about my experience working at the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre for the Off the Record special issue on Archives and Indigenous Issues.
- I also finished and submitted an article I’ve been working for over a year.
- I’ve continued to serve as an editor for Active History. This has allowed me to work with a number of great historians and I also wrote a handful of posts for them this year including:
Talks and Presentations
- In March I spoke as part of a “Finding 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
My most recent piece is a collaborative post with Skylee-Storm Hogan over at Active History. The post, “Doing The Work: The Historian’s Place in Indigenization and Decolonization“, looks at the prevalence of the terms Indigenization and decolonization in recent post-secondary conversations. It also examines meaningful ways in which historians can decolonize and Indigenize their practices.
I am extremely grateful to Skylee-Storm for her contributions on this piece. I really appreciate her voice and perspectives and it was a delight to work with her on this piece.
My latest post “Ten Books to Contextualize Reconciliation in Archives, Museums, and Public History” can be seen over at Active History. The post looks at ten books and articles as a starting point for learning about reconciliation, residential schools and indigenous rights in the context of heritage organizations.
I started blogging back in September 2008 as part of a course requirement for a digital history class I took as part of my MA in Public History. Looking back I have a hard time believing I’ve kept up with the practice for eight years. There have been the occasional lulls in my writing but I seem to always return to the keyboard.
Eight years of blogging and over 530 posts later, writing in the public sphere is still an essential part of my professional practice. This informal writing practice has benefited me by connecting me with other professionals, helped me work through ideas in a space that can allow for collaboration, and opened doors to other opportunities. It is also flexible enough that I can adapt my writing style and topics based on interest, time commitment, and professional interests.
Is it worth the effort? I can point to definite projects that have developed out of my online presence (on twitter and through blogging) and there are people I have connected with virtually who have become valued colleagues and friends. So, yes. I think it’s a practice worth maintaining and one I plan on continuing with for the foreseeable future.
The August/September issue of Canada’s History magazine contains a short piece I wrote about the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre‘s Remember the Children Photo Identification Project. This project aims to help connect survivors, families, and communities with residential school photographs. It also strives to identify the unnamed students pictured in so many residential school photographs. This is one of the most popular projects undertaken by the Centre and I am constantly grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of it.
Yesterday the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre held it’s first “Rewriting Wikipedia” event aimed at increasing content relating to Indigenous Women on Wikipedia. I’m really happy with how this event turned out. We had about ten participants of varying skill levels and the afternoon was filled with good conversation, ideas, and skill building. Many of the people at the event hadn’t edited Wikipedia before so this was an opportunity to talk about why editing is important and what can be gained by contributing. It was also simply a good outreach event highlighting the range of work that happens in an archive.
I also learned some new things during the session. I tend to primarily use the source editor on Wikipedia but many of the event participants were more comfortable using the visual editor. Working with them and the visual editor gave me a better understanding of the intricacies of using the visual editor for article templates and citations. In between helping people I also spent some time working on a Wikipedia page for Chris Derksen who is an amazing two-spirited Indigenous artist.
We have plans to hold another Rewriting Wikipedia event in the fall, possibly focused on a different topic. We might also run a how-to workshop beforehand open to those who want to learn more before participating in the edit-a-thon. That way there can be a more focused emphasis on skill building in addition to generating content. I’m excited by the range of possibilities that exist with this type of event and the possibilities for grassroots community based history on Wikipedia.
At this year’s Canadian Historical Association (CHA) annual meeting Active History was announced as winner of the 2016 Public History Prize.
The Public History Prize
is sponsored by the Public History Group of the Canadian Historical Association. The award recognizes work that “achieves high standards of original research, scholarship, and presentation; brings an innovative public history contribution to its audience; and serves as a model for future work, advancing the field of public history in Canada. Nominations are encouraged on the nature and evolution of public history; the workings of memory, commemoration, and their application in public life; archival practice and policy; museum studies; and the presence of historical events and themes in society.”
I’ve been very fortunate to be part of Active History since 2010 and couldn’t be happier about this announcement. Many thanks to all of our supporters and the hard work of those involved with this project.