Writing titles for descriptions of Indigenous-related archival materials

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is following up on calls for action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, created to promote truth, healing and reconciliation between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples of Canada.

As of January 2019, LAC has established procedures for writing culturally sensitive titles for descriptions of Indigenous materials. These procedures apply to all LAC activities that require the creation or modification of descriptive metadata about archival documents in its collection related to Indigenous peoples that are publicly available through LAC's website.

Guiding principles for writing culturally sensitive titles for descriptions of Indigenous materials are as follows:

  • The title must make it easy for users and creators (natural and corporate persons or donor organizations) to retrieve the documents;
  • The title must respect the principles set out in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Joinet-Orentlicher Principles;
  • Where possible and reasonable, the title must reflect the context in which documents were created;
  • The title must reflect the content of the documents;
  • Title must follow the RAD and reflect the flexibility they afford;
  • Any useful information recommended by good archival practice for inclusion in a title must appear in the Mikan title field.

Three options are available when evaluating archival holdings:

  • If an appropriate formal title proper exists, no action is required.
  • If no formal title proper exists, the archivist drafts an appropriate supplied title proper according to the principles mentioned at the beginning of this section.
  • If the formal title proper is problematic, the archivist writes an appropriate supplied title proper consistent with the principles mentioned at the beginning of this section.
    • This supplied title proper includes the formal title proper structured as follows: the appropriate new title, in square brackets [ ], FOLLOWED BY the formal title proper

Mikan 5034383 (Photography – Government Archives)
Title field: [Inuit girl Pitula sitting on blankets indoors. Picture taken at Lake Harbour, N.W.T. Summer 1939]. Original title: 'Pitula' a supposedly beautiful Eskimo girl, taken at Lake Harbour, N.W.T. Summer 1939

Mikan 3648616 (Photography – Private Archives)
Title field: [Tsuut'ina (Tsuu T'ina/Sarcee) woman on the Reserve near Calgary, Alberta]. Original title: Sarsi Indian Squaw on the Reserve near Calgary, Alta.

Mikan 825376 (Textual record – Governmental archives)
Title field: [Athabaska Forest Reserve, Alberta - Attempted Removal of Evan Moberly and Family and other Métis Families at Grande Cache, Alberta]. Original title: Athabaska Forest Reserve, Alberta - Trespass by and Removal of Evan Moberly and Family and other Half-Breeds at Grande Cache, Alberta

Mikan 99467 (Textual record – Private archives)
Title field: [Lexicon of French-Cree words and expressions]. Original title: Langue sauvages pour nommer les articles celon [sic] la coutum des traiteur

Mikan 2963391 (Art – Private archives)
Title field: [Dene Dance at Old Fort Providence]. Original title: Slave Dance at Fort Providence

Mikan 5235074 (Cartographic document – Governmental archives)
Title field: [Plan of Anishnaabe and Métis Reserves on Rainy Lake, Nth. W. Territory]. Original title: Plan of Indian and Halfbreed Reserves on Rainy Lake, Nth. W. Territory

 

If you have any questions about this procedure, please contact bac.bureaucesmaoperations-cooofficeadmoperations.lac@canada.ca.

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