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Unsettled: Redefining Archival Power: An Interview with R.L. Gabrielle Nishiguchi

13 Jun 2022 8:00 AM | Anonymous

The ACA 2022 Annual Conference is approaching fast! The ACA blog, In the Field, is featuring the profiles of a few conference presenters. This post features R.L. Gabrielle Nishiguchi, Archivist at Library and Archives Canada.

Q: What is the title of your conference presentation?

Gabrielle: Decolonizing an Archives: The Japanese Canadian Internment Photographs

Q: Can you walk us through your academic and professional path?

Gabrielle: I am a government records archivist in the Society, Immigration, Employment, Indigenous and Government Affairs Section, Archives Branch, Library and Archives Canada (LAC). Before coming to LAC, I worked as a historical research consultant at the CBC, Parks Canada, and the Department of National Defence. My MA is from the School of Canadian Studies at Carleton University. I also have a Hon. BA in English Literature and a BSc (Cell Biology) from the University of British Columbia.

Q: What brought you to the field of archival studies and practice?

Gabrielle: From 1941-1949, the Government of Canada took unprecedented actions taken against Japanese Canadians, including forced removal, internment, confiscation and sale of property and post-war deportations.Archival government and private records from the 1940s preserved by the then National Archives of Canada and used by community citizen activists were critical in building the Japanese Canadian case for Redress.By preserving the records that hold our government accountable in the face of injustice, I viewed our national archives to be one of Canada’s key fundamental democratic institutions and I wanted to work there.

Q: What does the theme of the ACA 2022 conference, “Unsettled: Redefining Archival Power,” mean to you in terms of overall archival orientations and practice?

Gabrielle: With respect to my own institution, redefining archival power means that Government of Canada (GC) archivists cannot remain neutral when describing records because neutrality re-enforces the prevailing dominant narrative. To my way of thinking, GC archivists must actively facilitate the creation of space for the emergence of minority narratives and voices that need our assistance to be recognized. This is not remaining neutral. This is choosing sides.And all power shifts are unsettling.

Q: What are you most looking forward to at this year’s conference?

Gabrielle: Learning how colleagues in other archives and memory institutions are having the hard and complex discussions about decolonization and how they are effecting change.  

Caption: A group of Japanese Canadian deportees, who had been interned during the Second World War, waiting for a train to take them to a ship bound for Japan. Slocan City, British Columbia, 1946. Credit: Tak Toyota (c047398), Library and Archives Canada.

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