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ACCI flows from the knowledge that Cree culture must be captured, maintained, shared, celebrated, and practiced. Cree Elders have spoken of the need for a central place for the protection of the way, and have developed a vision for Aanischaaukamikw over several decades.

Jul 24, 2014

ACCI participates at the Association of Canadian Archivists Annual Conference

Every year the Association of Canadian Archivists (ACA) holds a fantastic conference somewhere in Canada.  This year the conference theme was Archivatopia and it was held in Victoria, at the historic Fairmont Empress Hotel.

I have been a member of ACA since I was a grad student and I have love participating in conferences – my first was in Toronto in 2009 where I was on the host committee and a poster presenter.  This year I was happy to be able to bring Lisa Petawabano along to the conference to present on one of ACCI’s projects.

Before the conference officially started, Lisa and I participated in the Aboriginal Special Interest Section annual meeting where we discussed activities of the group, and possible changes to the Aboriginal Archives Guide.  The guide was published in 2007 and a great deal has changed in the Aboriginal Archives world since then.  Possible changes discussed include adding a section about the TRC documents and oral testimony statement gathering that has been done across Canada, discussing policy and procedures and research policies.

To celebrate the start of the conference we were invited to an opening gala at BC Government House.  The view was exceptional and so was the company.  It was great to meet with archivists from all over the world and to catch up with friends.

Thursday was the first day of the conference.  In the morning we listened to two presentations from B.C, including one from our former YCW student Nailisa Tanner.

Our session title was Making and Evaluating Community Connections: Tools and Techniques. Our paper presentation was called Eeyou Istchee Network – Working Towards our Ideal Community Network.  We discussed our MAP funded project to connect all the community museum and archive collections with MINISIS (collections database system) and what steps had already been taken, including trips to each of the communities and conservation workshops.  Lisa and I spoke for 20 minutes, with our presentation slides containing exclusively pictures from ACCI and around Eeyou Istchee.  Our fellow panellist, Sarah Janes, from the Thunder Bay Archives spoke about her outreach projects and stats that she has been working on.  It was a great panel and we had about 50 people in our audience.  We were asked some great questions and we enjoyed the chance getting to share our experience with fellow archivists.

On Saturday I presented again with Canadian and American archivists. The session title was Looking Toward the Future: Aboriginal Archives in Canada and the United States and it was organised by Jennifer O’Neal from the University of Oregon.  Also on the panel was Jonathan Pringle from Northern Arizona University, Lim Lawson from the University of British Columbia Xwi7xwa Library, Sherry Lawson from Chippewas of Rama First Nation and Patricia Kennedy formally of Library and Archives Canada. The panel discussed the Aboriginal Archives Guide published by that ACA and the Protocols for Native American Materials that was published in the USA in 2006.  Standing up and speaking beside such an impressive crowd was a bit intimidating, and I was quite nervous.  We each presented on different topics, some of us giving our experiences using or creating guides, while others discussed the state of their community archives.  Each person had a unique view of the Guide and Protocols and it was great to hear about what other members of the aboriginal archival community were working on.  One of the greatest points came from Kim Lawson when she was describing the Aboriginal Archives Guide the night before the conference.  She spoke of how the Aboriginal Archive Guide should act like a bridge, connecting aboriginal communities to the archive community.  Aboriginal communities may choose to take some of the ideas in the guidebook, but not everything will work for each community.  Being flexible is very important, notably when working with communities who all have different mandates and resources.

The conference finished on a great note – the closing dinner and dance gala.  We had a great time talking (and dancing) with the people that we had met during the week.  The conference may be over but the work has just started.  Taking the ideas that were shared and discussed by our archival colleagues, continuing to improve our professional learning and updating resources for the next year will be more than enough to keep me busy over the next year.

For other conference posts about Aboriginal Archives please check out: