Update from the SCCA Response to the Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force (TRC-TF) – July 2017

Update from the SCCA Response to the Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force (TRC-TF) – July 2017

Dear members of the Canadian archival community,

I am pleased to provide a belated report on the work of the TRC-TF. Since our last report four months ago, we have been actively engaged in getting the first elements of this project underway. Here is a quick overview of our progress to date:

Governance & Administration

  • Completed Research Ethic Board applications for review and approval to the three universities who employ three of the ten TRC-TF members (University of Northern British Columbia, Laurentian University and Algoma University).
  • Completed a SSHRC Connection Grant application to secure funding for TRC-TF activities.

Relationship Development & Work with Indigenous Partners

  • Secured 7 Indigenous Partners to serve with us on the TRC-TF in a fully collaborative capacity – we are still hoping to find 3 more.
  • Worked with our Indigenous Partners on the development of the Survey on Reconciliation Action & Awareness in Canadian Archives (available in both French and English)

Outreach

  • Developed outreach protocols for engaging in a respectful and comprehensive way with Indigenous umbrella organizations, including: determination of clear objectives, extent of engagement, a clear communication strategy and identification of specific organizations across Canada to be contacted.
  • Presented on the scope of work of the TRC –TF to the Commonwealth Association of Museums Roundtable in Calgary, AB, June 21, 2017.
  • Presented on the scope of work of the TRC –TF to the Beyond Hope Conference in Prince George, BC, June 13, 2017.

Relationship Development with Heritage Sector Organizations:

  • Established a formal relationship of collaboration with the Canadian Federation of Library Associations (CFLA/FCAB) Standing Committee on Indigenous Matters. Camille Callison, Chair of the Indigenous Matters Committee will serve on the TRC-TF as an Indigenous Partner; while I will serve as a member of the Indigenous Matters Committee. Through this collaborative approach to reconciliation research we hope to not only eradicate the duplication of efforts, we also hope to contribute to each other’s process in a meaningful way. This collaboration also being critical as in many Indigenous communities, archives, museums and libraries are not often differentiated from one another.
  • Established an informal relationship with the Canadian Museums Association “Museums and Indigenous Issues Project.” Led by Jameson Brandt, this multi-year initiative will take place in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) recommendations, to address the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to consider other relevant issues.
  • Secured 1 year free memberships from provincial/territorial archival associations and from the ACA and AAQ for each of our Indigenous Partners as a gift of reciprocity in exchange for their engagement in this project.

Upcoming Tasks: With the release of the Survey on Reconciliation Action & Awareness in Canadian Archives on July 4, 2017 the TRC-TF will redirect its focus on the following tasks throughout the summer:

  1. Compiling Survey Results – We will begin this task on July 21st.
  2. Outreach – A fundamental step in the work of the TRC-TF will be to develop a balanced perspective on how effectively Canadian archives manage access and engagement with the Indigenous information resources in their care, and how successfully the Canadian archival profession includes Indigenous record keepers within its collegial embrace. To find this perspective, Task Force members will contact representatives from Indigenous umbrella organizations such as tribal councils, cultural centres and territorial governments, whose responsibility it is to oversee programs pertaining to traditional Indigenous knowledge, whether in the form of archives, language or heritage program development, treaty research, libraries, artifact collections, traditional land use studies.

Through this outreach and dialogic engagement all Task Force members will engage community representatives in conversation from both a Client Engagement Perspective and a Collegial Engagement Perspective. Members will seek to identify and understand existing relationships, issues and challenges encountered by Indigenous organizations (i.e. employees and/or volunteers thereof) as either a client or patron who uses Canadian archives for research; or as Indigenous record-keepers interacting on a collegial level within our profession. Through this outreach component of our project, it is also our intent to begin the process of relationship-building with Indigenous record-keepers and to extend a formal invitation to participate on a collegial level with the Canadian archival community – if they have not already done so or thought of doing so. At this point, outreach activities are expected to continue well into December 2017.

If grant funding is received this outreach will be done primarily face to face when practicable to do so. If funding is not received, this outreach will be done via email and telephone.

  1. Expanded Literature Review – Undertaken concurrently with this outreach work will be an ‘expanded’ literature review; whereby, we will be contacting authors of archival and related professional discourse pertaining to reconciliation work, participatory archiving, cross-cultural engagement and the development of a multi-cultural collegial network of professionals after reading the discourse. We will be following up with them about their conclusions: to see if they still stand, if they would make any changes to their methodology or proposed outreach strategies, or if they have any additional words of advice to offer to us as we continue along on our path towards reconciliation. At this point, research and engagement activities are expected to continue into January 2018.

In Grateful Acknowledgment: The work we have done to date is complex and time-consuming. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to each one of my tremendous team members who have worked tirelessly – off the side of their desks, evenings and weekends, shuffling work and family obligations – to get us as far as we are today.  I know the tremendous scope of our project and for all of your efforts and dedication I would like to say “Thank You”.

Call for Interest: I would also like to welcome anyone to contact me directly if they would like to take up the task of seeking additional funding for our work. It has been challenging, to say the least, to find funding streams geared towards reconciliation work within a profession, rather than as part of an Indigenous, educational or artistic program.

And as always, if you have any comments, suggestions or questions with regards to our work you are always welcomed and encouraged to contact me directly at Erica.hernandez-read@unbc.ca . As well, for TRC-TF documentation and updates, please check out our page on the SCCA’s newly launched website at https://archives2026.com/ .

Regards,

Erica Hernández-Read

Chair, Response to the Report on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force

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