AAO: Toward Truth and Reconciliation

Today the Archives Association of Ontario (AAO) announced the first of two web pages “aimed at supporting the Truth and Reconciliation process and improving access to Indigenous focused archival and cultural resources.”  Toward Truth and Reconciliation is a page dedicated to “assisting Ontario’s archival community to navigate the path toward the decolonisation and Indigenization of our practice” and contains a list of open access resources relating to the TRC, decolnisation, Indigenous issues, and the intersection of archives/Indigenous communities.

The list is well worth a look for anyone interested in learning more about how the AAO is responding to the TRC’s Calls to Action and steps the archival community can take to decolonize and Indigenize their practices.  This list is ongoing and the first part of a larger project so I imagine it will evolve and be added to over time.  General comments and suggestions for improvements on the project can be directed to the AAO Web Administrator.

Full Disclosure: The list includes a link to my place of work as one of the Indigenous cultural heritage resources in Ontario, a blog post I wrote for Active History is included as a resource, and the Off The Record: Archives and Indigenous Issues publication listed also contains a piece I wrote about working at the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre.  The page also contains a couple of my favourite pieces which I frequently recommend to folks interested in learning more about Indigenous communities, archives, and reconciliation.

Response to the Report on the Truth and Reconciliation Task Force

As was recently announced over Arcan-L I’m been appointed as one of the members of the Steering Committee on Canada’s Archives (SCCA) – Response to the Report on the Truth and Reconciliation Task Force.  I feel honoured to be part of this initiative to address the TRC’s Calls to Action relating to archives and look forward to being part of this important work.

In case you missed the announcement it read as follows:

Dear members of the Canadian archival community,

Over the summer the Steering Committee on Canada’s Archives issued a Call for Expressions of Interest to the Canadian archival community in order to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report Response Task Force (TRC-TF). The response to this call was overwhelming. The realization that across the nation, our community of professionals is ready and willing to meet the TRC’s Call to Action #70 with conviction and dedication is truly inspiring, and on behalf of the SCCA I want to thank each and every one of you who submitted their statement of interest!

 I would also like to introduce you to members of our 12 person Task Force:

Title Name Organization
Chair Erica Hernández-Read Archivist, Northern BC Archives & Special Collections, University of Northern British Columbia
Member Raymond Frogner Head of Archives, National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
Member Ian Moir Territorial Archivist, NWT Archives
Member Melanie Delva Archivist, Anglican Diocese of New Westminster and Provincial Synod of BC & Yukon
Member Krista McCracken Archives Supervisor,  Arthur A. Wishart Library and Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre, Algoma University
Member Marthe Brown Archivist, Laurentian University
Member Raegan Swanson Executive Director, Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives
Member Marianne Mclean Principal, Eigg Road Consulting
Member Emma Wright Archives Manager, Royal BC Museum and Archives
Member Nichole Vonk General Council Archivist, The United Church of Canada Archives
Member Jennifer Jansen Records Analyst, Tsawwassen First Nation
Member Marnie Burnham Strategic Advisor, Public Services Branch
Library and Archives Canada / Government of Canada

 The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report Response Task Force (TRC-TF) has a tremendous challenge ahead. If you recall, the Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada<http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/File/2015/Honouring_the_Truth_Reconciling_for_the_Future_July_23_2015.pdf> (June 2015) called upon the Canadian archival community “to undertake, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, a national review of archival policies and best practices to:

 1)      Determine the level of compliance with both the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the UN Joinet-Orentlicher Principles

 2)      Produce a report with recommendations for full implementation of these international mechanisms as a reconciliation framework for Canadian archives.” (p. 258)

 As its first step on this journey towards the “action” of reconciliation, the TRC-TF had to develop a Taskforce Project Charter – a document outlining project overview, scope, timelines and resources, organization, and risks, assumptions and constraints. While we are still working out the resources section, the TRC-TF would like to share our recently established Statement of Intent which will lead our work over the course of the next 2 years:

 The Task Force mandate is to conduct a review of archival policies and best practices existent across the country and identify potential barriers to reconciliation efforts between the Canadian archival community and Indigenous record keepers. With such a review in hand, the Task Force will then work in collaboration with Indigenous  communities  to create an actionable response to this research which will become the foundation for a reconciliation framework for Canadian archives.

Once our Project Charter is finalized, it will be posted on the SCCA website (currently under development). Input into this document, and all others we post will be most welcomed. We strongly encourage you to take interest in, if not ownership of, this Task Force – we want to work with you as much as we hope to work for you on this national issue.

 Regards,

Erica Hernández-Read, Chair

On behalf of Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report Response Task Force Steering Committee on Canada’s Archives

Archival Professional Communities

At the start of November I participated in a meeting of Anglican Diocesan Archivists in Toronto.  Spread over two days the meeting was a chance for Diocesan Archivists to connect, talk about ongoing projects, and discuss professional challenges and triumphs.  Many of the archivists in the room have been serving as Diocesan Archivists for many years.  For me it’s somewhat of a new role. I’ve only been working as the Assistant Diocesan Archivist for the Anglican Diocese of Algoma since 2014/2015 – it’s one of the many hats I’ve had the opportunity to wear at Algoma and has provided a contrast to the community based archival practice that I’m involved in the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre side of things.

The meeting was a good experience and provided a chance to connect with archival colleagues in-person which I always find hugely beneficial.  Hearing about ongoing projects being undertaken at other archives provides inspiration and at times points for commiseration.  Having a network of people to bounce ideas off and to discuss larger profession wide opportunities for change can be a huge boon.  Similarly, I think speaking with archivists who are working in similar archives (in this case Anglican and often lone arranger) circumstances can be particularly useful for building professional communities and sharing resources.

I took a lot away from those two days of meetings and our discussions inspired a lot of introspection and questions around larger archival issues such as volunteerism, electronic records, and the term ‘decolonizing archives’.  Parts of my thoughts on those topics will likely appear in blog posts in the future.

I’m going to leave folks with a short video clip from the “Keep Anglicans Talking” series of Anglican Diocesan Archivist Melanie Delva speaking about reconciliation and her changing perceptions of Indigenous people.  Delva’s words speak directly to how working in an archive which contains records on residential schools can be a game and perspective changer. It is also a good starting point for larger conversations religious archivists need to be having around the TRC’s Calls to Action and archival practice.

 

Ten Books to Contextualize Reconciliation in Archives, Museums, and Public History

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.