A University of Northern British Columbia researcher is leading a national task force examining how the archival community across the country can respond to a specific Call to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
Erica Hernández-Read, Archivist, at the Northern BC Archives, and the lead of the Response to the Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Taskforce with the Steering Committee on Canada’s Archives, received a $182,000 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Grant to determine just such a response.
Hernández-Read and a team of archivists and Indigenous heritage professionals are working together to design a reconciliation framework for Canadian archives which meets the specific objectives outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Call to Action No. 70 but which also seeks to actively engage and include Indigenous record keepers, their perspectives, methodologies and concerns within Canadian archival theory, practice and education.
A final report along with an evergreen set of protocols and principles will also be developed which supports archivists and heritage professionals in their treatment of archival material related to Indigenous people in a culturally appropriate manner.
“We are working to establish a broader sense of community, where heritage professionals from across Canada, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, can come together to support one another in the management of both tangible and intangible heritage,” says Hernández-Read. “Archives are also proactively identifying Indigenous-related materials within their holdings, but many are unsure of how to reach out to the communities represented – afraid of making a mistake, or causing damage to already shaky relationships. We want our research to help support them as they undertake respectful, fulsome engagement with the Indigenous communities represented in their collections so collaboratively a culturally appropriate collections management plan can be drawn up – whether that’s open access, restricted access, or full repatriation. The conversation needs to happen, relationships need to be developed.”
The project is titled, Establishing a framework for reconciliation action and awareness within the Canadian archival system.
“The Calls to Action put forward by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission provide a crucial guide for Canadians to work together to redress the legacy of the residential school system,” says UNBC President Dr. Daniel Weeks. “With the assistance of this SSHRC Insight Grant, Erica Hernández-Read and her colleagues in the archival community are engaging in important work to foster dialogue, nurture relationships and develop best practices to ensure Indigenous heritage resources are treated with respect.”
In addition to the Hernández-Read’s grant, two other UNBC researchers are co-applicants on grants being led by other institutions. School of Business Adjunct Professor Dr. Rick Colbourne is a co-applicant on a $345,000 Insight Grant for a York University-led project titled Indigenous social entrepreneurship: A co-generated approach. Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Management Associate Professor Dr. John Shultis is a co-applicant on a $200,000 Partnership Development Grant for a University of Alberta-led project titled Integrating social science, Indigenous, and local knowledge into park management, planning and policy making.
This research is directly funded by SSHRC. The Research Support Fund, a tri-agency initiative of SSHRC, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), assists Canadian post-secondary institutions and their affiliated research hospitals and institutes with the expenses associated with managing the research funded by these three federal research-granting agencies.