We Are All Treaty People




Archiving Indigenous History Through Photographic Social Media

  • September 17, 2020 3 pm - 4 pm
  • Online

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In 2015, Willow Cree journalist, curator and author Paul Seesequasis began an unusual online journey to help him come to terms with the devastating findings of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission report on the historically discriminatory residential school system. He sought understanding and inspiration in the stories of his mother, herself a residential school survivor. Paul also realized that another, mostly untold history existed alongside the official one: that of how Indigenous peoples and communities had held together during even the most difficult times.

He embarked on a social media project, The Indigenous Archival Photo Project, to collect archival photos capturing everyday life in indigenous communities from the 1920s through the 1970s. As he scoured archives and libraries, Paul uncovered a trove of candid images and began to post these on social media, where they sparked an extraordinary reaction. Friends and relatives of the individuals in the photographs commented online, and through this dialogue, rich histories came to light for the first time. In our discussion of this project, we will explore how in a movement like Paul’s –accessing archives, posting photos and researching through online communities - cultures can be reunited and strengthened, brought together through historical imagery, oral narrative and family recognition. This unique project has resulted in a beautiful publication, Blanket Toss Under Midnight Sun, Portraits of Everyday Life In Eight Indigenous Communities. George Legrady, whose James Bay archive is featured in the publication, will discuss with Paul about the many indigenous people of Canada, and how he came to participate and contribute to this unusual undertaking.

For more information and to sign up for the free event, visit the Eventbrite page