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ACA Statement on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

4 Dec 2023 3:20 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Dec. 4, 2023

Dear ACA Members, 

RE: ACA Statement on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict  

Like you, the Board of the Association of Canadian Archivists has watched events unfold in Israel and Gaza over the past couple of months with very heavy hearts. We continue to witness, in disbelief and horror, the continued escalation of violence in the region, and we join our voices with all who condemn attacks on innocent men, women and children in both Israel and Palestine. The scale of destruction, the incalculable suffering, and loss of life has been horrendous. We extend our deepest sympathies to all who have been affected by these ongoing acts of violence and terror. 

While it pales in comparison with the human costs of this conflict, we are also deeply concerned by the damage to, and destruction of cultural heritage institutions such as historic sites, museums, libraries, and archives. Recent media reports suggest over 100 cultural heritage sites have been damaged or destroyed in air assaults, resulting in the destruction of invaluable tangible and intangible heritage including archival records documenting the histories of Palestine and the Palestinian people. In fact, at the time of writing, it was our understanding that memory-building institutions such as the Central Archives of Gaza City along with culture centres, theatres, and libraries had been heavily damaged if not outright destroyed. Equally distressing is the loss of essential utility infrastructure such as communication and internet, which Gaza residents and humanitarian aid organizations rely on to ensure their safety and the safety of others.  

Since the catalytic events of October 7, we have also borne witness to the appalling rise in antisemitic- and Islamophobic-fuelled violence against members of Jewish and Muslim populations around the world, Canada included. Make no mistake: the Association of Canadian Archivists unequivocally condemns any hate-motivated actions. Targeting individuals and communities with violence and intimidation due to the actions of government is reprehensible and must stop. 

The Association recognizes that geography limits our capacity to help those directly affected by this violence at this time. We also understand that our members may, and likely do, hold vastly different perspectives and beliefs on this situation. However, we are united not only by our common humanity but also through our professional commitment to preservation and access and together we stand opposed to violence and ongoing destruction of documentary heritage.   

We know that the suffering caused through this conflict transcends borders, and many in our communities have been affected. To this end, the Association encourages our members to consider engaging in any, or all, of the personal and professional actions listed below to help those at home and abroad during these troubling times. 

Personal Action 

  • Consider contributing financially to one of the following aid organizations:  

Professional Action 

  • Consider implementing an archival assessment project to reveal the gaps in your holdings which may omit the voices of often marginalized communities, such as Palestinian/Islamic-Canadians and Jewish-Canadians. Consider working with these communities to correct this omission.   

  • If you have archival materials documenting the experiences of Palestinian/Islamic-Canadians and/or Jewish-Canadians, consider making such materials more visible to enable and encourage ongoing education, and cross-cultural dialogue about cultures, beliefs, and histories.  

  • Consider ways through which your institution, or yourself could support the ongoing work of community-centric archives including, but not limited to: 

We encourage our members to consider doing what they can, both in accordance with their capacity and their means, to support international aid organizations convey necessities for life to those in greatest need, and to protect and support the cultural heritage of those diasporic communities within Canada currently so affected by the ongoing conflict.  

No matter your religious or atheistic proclivity, please join us in united invocation calling for the swift and permanent cessation of hostilities, and for the health and safety of those currently in danger.  

With deepest respect,  

The Board of Directors for the Association of Canadian Archivists

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