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.