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History as healer


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Slides for a presentation at the conference of the Association of Canadian Archivists in Victoria, British Columbia, in June 2014. The talk was about an event aimed at bringing communities together. It grew out of a finding aid of historical documents which had been used to support a First Nations land claim in Eastern Ontario (;rad).

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History as healer

  1. 1. History as Healer Amanda Hill
  2. 2. 2007 Access to Information request
  3. 3. April 16th, 2008 Archives Board meeting minutes 6. Any other business … b) Land Claim documents Councillor Tumak presented copies of documents received from the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs as the result of an Access to Information Request for background papers surrounding the Culbertson Tract land claim. It was agreed that the archivist would review the papers and create a summary listing of the materials provided. After the summary listing of the documents is completed, Board members agreed that on the Town's behalf, they would share the responsibility of reviewing the papers for content relevant to the history of the Culbertson land claim.
  4. 4. What next? • Initial reluctance by the Board to share the finding aid online • By November 2011 this had changed and the finding aid was shared on the Deseronto Archives site and also added to Archeion
  5. 5. May 9th, 2012 Archives Board meeting minutes 5. Any other business … b) Land Claim Symposium Paul Robertson reported on a meeting with Marlene Brant-Castellano to talk about the possibility of organizing an event on different cultural perceptions of land ownership, with particular reference to the Culbertson Tract claim. The archivist expressed willingness to be involved, with the perspective from the documents in the archives.
  6. 6. Political support • Deseronto Town Council • Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte Band Council • Hastings County Council • Belleville City Council
  7. 7. • Belleville and Hastings Community Archives • Hastings County Historical Society • Professor John S. Milloy, Trent University • Panellists and speakers Practical support
  8. 8. Programme planning…
  9. 9. Mission To create a safe place where First Nations and non-First Nations people of Eastern Ontario may come together to learn about and to share understandings of the common land that sustains us all.
  10. 10. ACA proposals due September 2013 “…This presentation analyzes the steps taken in garnering support for the event and assesses the effectiveness of actively using the materials of the past to promote present-day understanding and future co- operation.” Event hadn’t actually happened when I submitted the proposal for this talk…
  11. 11. On the day • Deliberately low-tech event
  12. 12. Blanket exercise
  13. 13. Discussion session
  14. 14. Post-event reaction and results
  15. 15.
  16. 16. Increasing co-operation •Archives working in collaboration with MBQ research unit on World War I project to identify local people who joined the services •Discussing possible joint events around the anniversary of the war •Talk using documents has been given to other local groups
  17. 17. Regrets • Not as much participation from Deseronto residents as we’d hoped • Might have been better to hold the event in Deseronto • How do we reach those less open to learning more? Can we?
  18. 18. “…if we are not helping people understand the world they live in, and if this is not what archives is all about, then I do not know what it is we are doing that is all that important.” F. Gerald Ham, 1975 ‘The Archival Edge', American Archivist, January 1975, p.13
  19. 19. Final thoughts • Be prepared to step out of what’s comfortable and familiar • Accumulate allies in different communities • Use archives to build understanding • To demonstrate the relevance of the past to the present
  20. 20. Thank you!