Thanks to a local collaborative project, many of the city’s Aboriginal trailblazers are having stories told.
Directed by Dr. John Loxley, an economics professor at the University of Manitoba and Evelyn Peters, a professor in the Urban and Inner City Studies Department at the University of Winnipeg, Preserving the History of Aboriginal Organizational Development in Winnipeg documents Aboriginal activism and the development of Aboriginal organizations in Winnipeg from the 1950s to the 1990s.
"Some years ago I had worked on the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, where I looked at Aboriginal economic development in Winnipeg, which there was and is quite a bit of," Loxley said. "I tried to capture that and also interviewed people about their different approaches, what they were trying to accomplish and why.
"It occurred to me, it’s one thing to try and document the approaches to economic development but it’s another thing to talk to the people who actually initiated it and to record their stories and what they were trying to do and what they think they accomplished."
So, in 2012, Loxley and Peters — along with an advisory committee consisting of Darrell Chippeway, Louise Chippeway, Crystal Greene, Kathy Mallett and Larry Morrissette — began collecting records related to Aboriginal organizational development.
The group conducted over 40 video interviews with Aboriginal organizers and activists.
Chippeway, a rhetoric, writing and communications student at the U of W, says he found the search for records really exciting, although it was also tough at times, as many have either been misplaced or destroyed over the years.
"It was disappointing to hear that but the most gratifying part was when you get the people who say I have all these old annual reports," Chippeway said. "For instance, the Indigenous Women’s Collective from the ’80s, which is now disbanded, I found about 10 annual reports from them. To find something like that and for these documents to now be available to the Aboriginal community and anybody interested in this story, I have a sense of satisfaction."
The interviews and records will be made available by U of M Archives and Special Collections, although Chippeway says it’s merely a holding place until an Aboriginal archives office is formed.
Also, a short video about the project is available on the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives website at policyalternatives.ca/multimedia
On Tues., Oct. 22, the project was celebrated with a feast at Thunderbird House, with dinner provided by Neechi Commons.
"A lot of the people we interviewed were there and there was the short film including some of them," Loxley says. "They were really happy to see they are being recorded and their efforts are being marked and appreciated. It was a really positive event."