Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records at the South Peace Regional Archives

Image: Sturgeon Lake. 1911. SPRA 0032.08.08.1008 Part of Campbell family fonds.

The South Peace Regional Archives initiated a survey of the region’s holdings in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) call to actions to locate records within our holdings related to Indian Residential Schools. We found very few records related to residential schools, but we did find several records related to Indigenous people and communities in our region. We decided to expand the scope of our research to look for any records related to Indigenous peoples within our holdings.

Thanks to the efforts of staff and volunteers, we now have a small database of material to share. While we pursue avenues of access, we would like to start sharing some of these images and documents.

The government keeps documentary evidence related to its ongoing relationship with Indigenous peoples and communities. So too, the people in the communities. The caption for this photograph reads, “John Stocks (left), first Deputy Minister of Public Works, and A. H. McQuarrie (tallest man in centre) with several First Nations men and children at Sturgeon Lake.”

This seems like an important moment for this community and yet we have no idea who these community members were. Were they the leaders of the community? What is the event the photograph is documenting? When did this event occur? Having an answer to any of these questions might provide evidence that lead us to answers for the rest.

Like most archives in Canada, the story of the relationship between the government and Indigenous peoples tends to be one-sided. We are hoping to bring more balance to that story at the local level. If you have any stories that might shed some light on this photograph, please let us know. If you have any documents, photographs, or stories that document the history of the relationship of Indigenous peoples with government officials in the South Peace region, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us at or 780-830-5105.

Share this post