Indigenous Documentary Heritage Initiatives

In Budget 2017, the Government of Canada announced funding for Library and Archives Canada (LAC) to support the digitization of existing  Indigenous documentary heritage and to support Indigenous communities for the digitization of Indigenous language recordings.

With the guidance of an Indigenous Advisory Circle, we are currently developing the two digitization initiatives.  

Digitizing Indigenous documentary heritage

The first initiative is a documentary heritage digitization project that will focus on increasing online access to LAC’s holdings that contain First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation related content, including government records, private archival records, and published works.

The goal of the initiative is to provide free online access to unrestricted digital material through LAC’s website and social media. Therefore, important components of the project are the simultaneous improvement of existing means of access and the creation of new tools, including:

  • digital finding aids
  • online research guides and databases
  • web-based engagement and learning modules
  • an online crowdsourcing application on the portal to transcribe, tag, translate, describe, and correct inaccuracies in the archival description.

Material to be digitized may include photographs, audiovisual recordings, treaties, Indigenous language dictionaries and lexicons, material related to residential schools, portraits, early journals and observations, and cartographic material.

Digitizing Indigenous-language recordings

The second initiative is a digitization of Indigenous-language recordings project that aims to offer support and expertise to Indigenous communities in their efforts to preserve and revitalize First Nations, Métis Nation and Inuit languages.

Through collaborative approaches, we will offer a variety of services to communities to preserve and provide access to Indigenous oral recordings. These services include:

  • digitization services
  • deposit preservation services
  • development of a catalogue of existing oral expressions
  • tools and training for the digital preservation of existing recordings
  • an independent web portal to facilitate access to these materials
  • an online crowdsourcing application on the portal to transcribe, tag, translate, describe, and correct inaccuracies in archival descriptions.

The recordings that will be digitized will come from a variety of sources including:

  • individuals, community centres or any organizations willing to share their recordings for the purpose of language and culture preservation and revitalization
  • universities and museums
  • archival repositories.

How the initiatives are being developed

We are committed to playing a significant role in reconciliation, centred on community-based engagement and based on the recognition of the following:

We will engage with Indigenous communities in good faith and in all stages of the initiatives. To this effect, we will work closely with an Indigenous Advisory Circle which will guide the priorities and implementation of these initiatives and hire Indigenous staff. It is only through meaningful engagement and collaboration with Indigenous communities and representative groups that we can better understand, preserve, and make Indigenous heritage accessible in a manner that is historically accurate and culturally appropriate.

Please contact us for more information.

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