The South Peace Regional Archives has received $8,976 in funding for a reconciliation project submitted to the federal government’s Documentary Heritage Communities Program.
Titled ‘Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records’, the project will take a thorough look through 56 sets of records previously identified by an Indigenous History Committee as containing Indigenous content. The aim is to provide culturally-appropriate descriptions and contextual information.
Archives Executive Director Alyssa Currie says the project will increase access to approximately 300 Indigenous-related photographs and paper artifacts. She adds it will hopefully lend a voice to those Indigenous communities in the region who have never seen their full story told.
“The majority of records we have related to Indigenous peoples have not been created by Indigenous people; they’ve been created by settlers or non-Indigenous peoples, and, as a result of that, they might not reflect how those Indigenous people identified themselves or how they’d interpret their history,” she says.
“This project is going to take the evidence of Indigenous history in our area as something that existed in other people’s stories, and gives it the opportunity to come forward in its own right.”
Currie says when the records were originally created, the language used was disputed and outdated. She believes they must work hand in hand with regional Indigenous communities to accurately portray what life was like in that time period.
“We’re decolonizing our records by engaging directly with the Indigenous people that they represent, by reflecting culturally appropriate terminology, and by making sure we are contextualizing, rather than re-writing those historical records.”
The Indigenous History Committee was established as a response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action number 69 regarding archives and residential schools. The project funding comes from Library and Archives Canada.