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Reporting back from the Canada Archivists Conference

From June 6-9, Kirsten attended and presented at the Association of Canadian Archivists conference, held in Edmonton. This is her report back.

It was a great opportunity to meet colleagues from Canada and find out about relevant projects and practices. The entire conference was a fantastic experience but these papers stood out to me the most:

Jennifer Douglas, Intimate archives in a big data world. This paper was about Jennifer’s personal and professional experiences of online communities who provide support to each other following a bereavement. She raised the issue that while these communities are online and therefore open to the public, they are also very private, intimate spaces for the people in them. She discussed her obligations to the communities, as both a participant and a researcher, asking: just because something is online, does it make it public?

Another fantastic session was Indigenous Voices: Speaking on Truths, Trust and Technology, a session made up of Indigenous people working within or with archives. They discussed issues relating to new technologies and Indigenous knowledge, Indigenous representation within the archival profession, repatriation and ownership of cultural knowledge documented in records, and how organisations could best work with and support people with lived experience of the issues documented within the records.

There are clear parallels between the Canadian and Australian archival professions in terms of Indigenous representation – but on a broader level, this session made it clear how important it is for people with the lived experience and knowledge to have appropriate access to relevant archives. In many cases this means that better relationships between community groups and archives must be established.

And finally, Erica Hernandez-Read gave an update on the work of The Steering Committee on Canada’s Archives’ Truth and Reconciliation Commission Taskforce (TRC-TF). This taskforce was set up following the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to monitor and report on the progress that archives have made against the Calls to Action coming out of the TRC. They have just completed a survey of Canadian archives asking about awareness of, and progress towards the TRC’s Calls to Action. It was interesting to reflect on what the results of a similar survey in Australia might be, and how such a survey may come about in Australia.

neon museum

While at the conference I also did a walking tour of Edmonton with by City of Edmonton Archivist Kathryn Ivany. One of the last stops was the Neon Museum – a collection of neon signs from local businesses which have been preserved after the buildings they were on were demolished. A nice glimpse into Edmonton’s business history!


  1. Thanks for the report Kirsten. Most interesting. Are any of the papers available for sharing on line or in hard copy?

    • Kirsten Wright

      June 20, 2018 at 8:03 pm

      Thanks Frank! Unfortunately I don’t believe the papers are generally made available, although some may be turned into full articles and published in the ACA’s journal, Archivaria. However, individual authors may be happy to share their papers direct and I would be happy to follow up if there are any in particular you are interested in?

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