History as Healer
2007 Access to Information request
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.
• Initial reluctance by the
Board to share the finding
• By November 2011 this had
changed and the finding aid
was shared on the Deseronto
Archives site and also added
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.
• Deseronto Town Council
• Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte
• Hastings County Council
• Belleville City Council
• Belleville and Hastings Community Archives
• Hastings County Historical Society
• Professor John S. Milloy, Trent University
• Panellists and speakers
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.
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-
Event hadn’t actually happened when I submitted the proposal for this
On the day
• Deliberately low-tech event
Post-event reaction and results
•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
• 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?
“…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
• 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
Definition of archival activism from a Queen’s University blog post
Two aspects – this presentation is about the first, subsequent presentation by Melanie Hardbattle on punk and Occupy Vancouver is about the second.
I’m talking about this event, held in October last year.
Geographical context: Deseronto is midway between Ottawa and Toronto
Dark grey area is the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory – Deseronto partially surrounded by it and was originally a part of it.
Land claim submitted in 1995 – accepted under the Specific Claims Policy in November 2003
Tensions in the area high after lack of progress on settling the claim.
Building top left is the new Band Office for the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte. Building underneath is the Town Hall of Deseronto (once the Bank of Montreal, built 1904). Negotiations happen between MBQ and the Government of Canada, leaving the Town of Deseronto unaware of what is happening, even though it is closely involved in the outcome of the negotiations.
The Town submitted an Access to Information request in relation to the claim to the Department for Indian and Northern Affairs Canada in 2007. In response, they received all the supporting documentation for the claim, but not the claim itself. Many pages of photocopies of 18th and 19th century handwriting.
The first finding aid I wrote was for records held entirely in other people’s repositories!
Also probably the most detailed finding aid I’ve ever written, more of a ‘calendar’ – and it was an absolutely fascinating collection of documents, charting the history of the relationship between this group of people and the British and Canadian governments over the last two hundred years. Also would just like to mention that Saltern Givins the missionary to the Mohawks was the son of James Givins, superintendent of the Indian Department – but no hint of their family relationship in their correspondence!
Report to Council, which was followed up by a meeting with the Town’s solicitor that summer.
We hoped to use the documents as the basis of an event which would bring the community together.
Marlene was a professor in Trent University’s Native Studies department, the first to be established in North America. She was co-director of research for the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2004.
Paul addressing Hastings County Council
Target audiences – particularly hoped to reach the second two.
Decided even if it was a disaster, it would be worth talking about!
Promotion and registration
Scary for someone who has tended to rely on PowerPoint!
Only person to use PowerPoint was Nathan Brinklow, who gave the traditional Haudenosaunee (hoe-di-no-show-nee) opening in the Mohawk language with an English language gloss
Chief Don R. Maracle took away my copy of the readings.
Blanket exercise a way of teaching the native history that was not taught in schools
People were divided up geographically with coloured name tags to help get the conversation going
The Deseronto Wikipedia page suggests some success (I have edited this page but I didn’t add these notes.)
This is my mother-in-law, Edna, who is the same age as Marlene but not quite so alert and on the ball. She was visiting from England when the Symposium took place and I brought her along for the day, but wasn’t quite sure what she would make of it all.
As we drove home, she said to me, in a tone of wonder: “I hadn’t realised at the beginning, but a lot of those people were actually Indians, weren’t they?”
I thought to myself, well, if we’ve done nothing else today, we’ve brought one elderly Englishwoman into contact with a group of people she would never otherwise have met.
And we can hope that this was also true of some of the other people who attended.