Above: Still from “Wedding, Parade, Christmas, and Travels.” 8mm film ca. 1969. (Fonds 039: Bert and Miriam Tieman Fonds, SPRA 1985.3.82F)
The South Peace Regional Archives aims to gather, preserve, and share the historical records of the South Peace Region of Alberta, now and in the future. These records reflect the personal, cultural, social, economic, and political life of the South Peace River Country of Alberta. These records often contain language and imagery that are representative of the time in which they were created. As a result, they may include instances of problematic wording, cultural references, and stereotypes that are no longer used or appropriate today.
While completing a recent multimedia project, our staff discovered several archival films with historic parade footage; some scenes include parade floats or costumes depicting Indigenous people that would now be considered offensive. It is not always clear from the footage whether the persons depicted are themselves Indigenous or in what context they were included in the parade. Therefore, it is not always possible to know whether these are instances of self-representation or misrepresentation. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its presence and potentially hurtful impact.
The South Peace Regional Archives is committed to continuing our path forward in the Reconciliation process. To remove these depictions would mean erasing evidence of the systemic racism and discrimination that many Indigenous people have faced in our community, both in the past and still to this day. In several cases, removing these depictions would mean erasing how some Indigenous people represented themselves. This decision was made in consultation with the SPRA Indigenous History Committee and in accordance with the Association of Canadian Archivists’ Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct and the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. All future posts that contain these films will include a content note referring readers to this post.
We are currently completing a major project to identify and address materials related to Indigenous peoples within the collection in order to provide culturally-appropriate descriptions and contextual information. This work is part of our ongoing effort to “serve the community as an inclusive, participatory archives: one that all can contribute to and access community history” (South Peace Regional Archives Strategic Goals, 2019-2022). If you, or anyone you know, has information that would help us contextualize these depictions, we encourage you to reach out to the Archives.
We acknowledge with respect that the South Peace Regional Archives is located on the ancestral and traditional lands of many Indigenous peoples. This territory is covered by Treaty 8, signed in 1899. The continuing relationship between Indigenous peoples and this land contributes to the rich knowledge and culture of the South Peace region.
We are grateful to serve the people on this land and honor the Calls for Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.