Comma

Academic archivists as agents for change

Comma (2018), 2018, (1-2), 65–76.

Abstract

Academic archivists can be agents for change by supporting and assuming the moral roles that their institutions play. The University of Manitoba Archives and Special Collections in Winnipeg, Canada, helped the University win the bid to host the records of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Indian Residential Schools and create the National Centre For Truth and Reconciliation. Working closely with indigenous colleagues and listening to hours of public testimonies from survivors led the Archives to absorb many lessons learned from the experience. The Archives then integrated many of these lessons into a wide variety of daily archival activities, including acquisition, description, reference, outreach and access. While this is only the beginning of decolonizing the Archives, this sincere attempt at reconciliation has wider implications for others who are seeking to create a deeper and more authentic record of society. Consultation with community members whose records the Archives collects is key, as is encouraging those members to participate in creating the final record. What archivists learn from the experience can be widely applied. To integrate teachings from others, one needs patience, respect, goodwill and an open heart. Ultimately, the archival record is bigger than any archivist or archivists can be responsible for. We must enlist others to help us bear the yoke of archival responsibility; the resulting societal record will be all the better for it.

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Details

Author details

Sweeney, Shelley