The Arrow

Winter 2014

Creating a Manitoba First Nations Archives: Next Steps

The MFNERC Research & Development Program (RDP) has set as its goal the creation of a Manitoba First Nations Archives, to be located at our Winnipeg office. Today in Manitoba there is no recognized central repository that is acknowledged as a First Nations archival institution, controlled by First Nations. There are a number of Aboriginal/First Nation cultural centres situated throughout the province, as well as the Manitoba Provincial Archives and Manitoba’s universities, which have collections containing First Nations archival content. However, there is no single location that focuses exclusively on First Nations material, and can be easily accessed by the public for education and training purposes. MFNERC hopes to change this.

After conducting an introductory workshop for community members at last year’s Lighting the Fire Conference, MFNERC’s RDP recently took the next step of meeting with experts from Manitoba’s archival community for an initial brainstorming session. On November 26, 2013, our RDP Specialists held a roundtable with the following professionals: Brett Lougheed, Tom Nesmith, Florence Paynter and Shelley Sweeney, University of Manitoba; Terry Reilly, Archivist Consultant; Scott Goodine, Archivist of MB; Heather Bidzinski and Rita Mogyorosi, Canadian Museum for Human Rights; Meaghan Buchanan, University College of the North.

Volunteer Advisory Board

With so many archival powerhouses in one room, the knowledge shared around the table was seemingly endless. Many issues were discussed, existing models were examined and thoughts on next steps were shared. Themes such as establishing protocols, building relationships, accessibility and use, and intellectual property issues were all touched upon. Overall it was agreed that for the creation of an institution such as a First Nations archives, one of the priorities is finding the records and obtaining them from individuals who are largely part of small communities. Thankfully, MFNERC already has strong relationships with Manitoba’s First Nations and has, since the beginning of the project, invited community members to share their input.

“To have that trust is vital,” stated Shelley Sweeney, PhD, Head of U of M Archives & Special Collections. “If records are not found and preserved what is the alternative? They will disappear…It is for the good of the community that [MFNERC] can become stewards of these Indigenous records of endearing value.”

To that end, a volunteer advisory board was established with those present at the Nov. 26 roundtable. We are excited to keep you posted as the board goes forward with this momentous project.

For further information please contact Andy Thomas, Research Specialist at:

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