Auction for Action

Walking With Our Sisters (WWOS) is currently holding an Auction For Action.  The Auction started on February 15th and runs until March 6th.  This year WWOS is partnering with Awasis: A Sacred Journey, Butterflies in Spirit, and Got Bannock.  All the proceeds from the auction will be shared between these four community based initiatives.

The Auction is facilitated through a facebook page set up by WWOS. The 21 day auction is open to anyone on facebook, both to bid and to provide donations.  To donate an item to the auction donors simply upload a good quality photograph of the donated item, a short description, and shipping details.  Bidders can big directly on the item using the facebook comment function.  The community based nature of the fundraiser reflects the grassroots nature of all the projects involved.  A large number of the items already donated are handmade, indigenous made, and beautiful works of art.  Well worth a look for anyone interested in supporting these great causes.

More information about each of the organizations this fundraising supports can be found below:

Walking With Our Sisters (WWOS) is a memorial that honours the lives of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls. WWOS is touring until 2019 at 32 locations across North America.The exhibit incorporates the act of ceremony and honouring with the work of approx.1400 artists who created 1808 pairs of moccasin tops. Operated entirely by volunteers, with none of the organizers getting paid, this project has not applied for nor received a government grant for the materials, shipping costs or any other costs associated with it.

Awasis: A Sacred Journey. Donna Gamble is walking across Canada for “my sisters who’ve left and those who continue to struggle. I also pray for our babies and the brothers. As a mother grandmother & Chapan (great grandmother), I walk in prayer for missing and murdered sisters and for the health of our communities and children. ‘Awasis’ is a child. Donna began her journey when Tina Fontaine (15) was murdered in Winnipeg. She completed the first half of her walk in the fall of 2014 from BC to Sask. She continues her walk this spring from Sask to Ottawa. Proceeds from this auction will go to support her completing her journey.

Butterflies in Spirit is a Vancouver dance troupe raising awareness of violence against Aboriginal women and girls, including those who have gone missing or have been murdered. To commemorate them, their images are worn on t-shirts in performance, as the dancers pay respect to their lives. They have performed at more than 10 events across Canada.Got Bannock is a grassroots initiative by Althea Guiboche to feed the hungry, the homeless and less fortunate on the cold streets of Winnipeg Her motto is “in honour of the village we once had”. Althea is a stay-at-home single parent who encourages a more selfless life that caters to Mother Earth and her children. She states “The traditional village my people once had was based on respect, honour and love. We were self-governed and every member of the tribe was a contributor towards survival of the village…our wealth was measured less in what we had than in what we shared with one another.” Proceeds from this auction will go to Got Bannock to be able to continue the good work it does.

The Flexibility of a Definition.

This past weekend I attended an Active History conference in Toronto. The conference focused largely on the variety of ways in which academic and community historians interact with the general public and attempt to employ history in ways which actively engage audiences.

I think one of the most significant ideas I took away from the conference was the notion of flexibility. I am beginning to think that for an understanding, appreciation and a career in Public History flexibility is essential. The Active History conference featured many presentations by traditional academic historians whose work had brought them out of the ivory tower into the realm of Public History. The conference also featured a number of presentations by people who may not be considered “true historians” by traditional academic standards. This juxtaposition of academic and community historians helped me expand my definition of what a historian is. A historian does not necessarily have to have spent a good portion of their life in the academy, rather they may be participating, learning and researching history from a grassroots level.

One of the most surprising aspects of the entire conference was the lack of conversation about the use of digital technology to enhance active participation. Digital technology was discussed by a few of the presenters but it did not receive its own panel or resonate as a general concern amongst participants. I understand that a lot of volunteer based organizations and underfunded historical projects may not have a great deal of money to fund some of the more complex digital technology avaliable. However, there is a number of open-source programs which could be used to enhance historical websites or even the technology used at specific facilities. Many of the presenters at the conference were very flexible in their outlooks and were creative in coming up with ideas of how to engage the public. Yet, many did not apply this creative thinking in a digital way, which would (in my mind) allow for an increased public engagement and accessibility of historical information. Perhaps it all comes down to a lack of knowledge about the digital resources which are avaliable to them and a lack of training in how to use technology in a historical setting.

Overall, I found the conference to be an insightful look into a variety of avenues of Public History which I had not given an immense amount of thought to prior to the conference. The conference also gave me a lot to think about regarding the ways in which the “profession” of public history can be both professional and very far from the traditional professional ideal.