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

Photograph: Two Cree women fleshing a moose hide, 1935. SPRA 0177.074 Part of Ann Macklin 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 their 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 are sharing some of these images and documents.

A picture is worth a thousand words but without words to provide context, a photograph often raises more questions than they answer. Who were these two women and where was the photograph taken? What was the relationship between the photographer and the women? Are these two women looking over their shoulder to pose for the camera? Or were they startled by it? Was this scene captured by the photographer as an aide memoire or to share “their” experience with friends and family?

We do have some context for the image. Within the Ann Macklin fonds, there are several photographs of hunting trips, including photographs of “Cree family guides”. Perhaps these two women were part of guiding family. With the limited caption, “Two Cree women fleshing a moose hide” we cannot know for sure. The image does provide some evidence of Cree women’s labour and their hide-processing techniques. But it leaves us bereft of valuable personal information that would add richness to the history of the region, the Cree community, and these women in particular.

If you have any information about who these women might be, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us at or 780-830-5105.

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