We Are All Treaty People

Indigenous Histories and Records Access Conference

  • Published - 26/05/2024
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  • Posted By - OTC
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The Office of the Treaty Commissioner is constantly growing knowledge and working to advance our library and archives.

The Owning History: Indigenous Histories and Records Access Conference in Winnipeg in April allows us to continue to do this.

“I asked many questions throughout the conference to help guide me through some of the obstacles that we face in our own archive,” said Eli Worme, a member of the OTC archives team. He added that the positive responses he received “informed me that what we do at our office is relevant and important.”

Kimberly Murray the Independent Special Interlocutor for Missing Children and Unmarked Graves and Burial Sites associated with Indian Residential Schools (IRS) was the event’s key note speaker.

“She gave a fantastic and emotional key note,” Worme said.

She spoke about the importance of records in relation to locating missing and disappeared children from Indian Residential schools. Also, she talked about the importance of ensuring people cross Canada hear the true history and become informed.

Murray spoke to the importance of allowing Indigenous peoples to access records about their disappeared family at IRS and Indian Hospitals. If they cannot access these vital records it becomes a continuation of the forced disappearance of people and children, she said.

There was a session on work being done to record and preserve the history of the pass system and some findings about government correspondence regarding archival document destruction.

Some presenters shared on how they navigated the obstacles of mislabeled or “lost” documents. They advocated for the importance of proper storage of information on Indigenous People and of providing context and accurate information on historically harmful records.

Researchers talked about the importance of self-care when doing research and archival work, but also how this work can be therapeutic when finding the truth about family history, wrongs that were committed, and why inter-generational trauma is present in communities today.

There was also conversation about the importance of creating a living policy agreement in relation to accessing archival materials. These agreements respect the needs and privacy of all community members and making it an easy process for give or remove materials.