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This article was published 26/9/2016 (634 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
In trying to comprehend violence against women, child abuse and social injustice, one woman’s archival collection may help communities gain greater insight.
The University of Manitoba’s Archives and Special Collections recently acquired the clippings, photographs, journals, and documents compiled by Lynne Moss Sharman dating back to the 1970s and gathered over the past three decades.
The fonds explore topics ranging from missing and murdered Indigenous women, child abuse and foster care, prison deaths, and community action on issues.
According to Brian Hubner, acquisitions and access archivist with the university, the impetus for Sharman’s documentation began with her research into mind control experiments and abuse performed on children. Sharman claimed to be a survivor of experiments and government-sanctioned child abuse. She died in March 2014 at the age of 66.
"She was initially interested in medical experiments," Hubner said. "Cold War medical experiments were done on her as a child and she was able to prove that. She reached out to other people who were victims of that, and that was really the origin of her research and her collecting."
Sharman, an activist, social worker and artist from Thunder Bay, Ont., used the collection as a research bank of material, Hubner said. Sharman carefully curated the collection, with sections of the archive focused on the Pickton trials, the Highway of Tears, individual cases of missing and murdered women, and the media coverage that framed it all. She was passionate about her work and added her own annotations to the information she gathered in respect of its subjects, Hubner said.
Hubner believes her motivation was to document what was happening in her community and communities across Canada and make it available to people, survivors, victims and families to use as a resource.
"I think she saw it as a real mission of hers to make it available to the community as a whole," he said.
The university came into possession of the collection after being contacted by friends of Sharman. They requested the university look into acquiring the archive in order to expand its reach and keep it accessible to the community.
From an academic and research perspective, Hubner hopes the collection will be used during the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Hubner has reached out the inquiry to make them aware of the collection and significant material it holds.
"It’s important in and of itself, but the fact that it might be used in a more formal setting and could be valuable in that setting made me think that it’s really important that we get this," he said.
Hubner also expects the nine boxes of material will be a good starting point for important academic research within the university and beyond.
"We hope the inquiry uses it and other community people (access it). Also, there will become a day when there will be academic research of this topic," he said.
"The interest will develop and the material has really only been available for a few months and collections like this are the kind of thing that it’s often years before they’re used to their potential."
For more information about the Lynne Moss Sharman fonds go to umanitoba.ca/libraries
Danielle Da Silva
Community journalist — The Sou'wester
Danielle Da Silva is the community journalist for The Sou'wester. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org