As the COVID-19 crisis evolves, archives across Canada are now considering how to prepare for reopening after an extended period of closure. Archives and records professional are just beginning to understand how this closure has changed the nature of their work, temporarily and permanently, and what effect this pandemic will have on the profession as a whole.
The Impact of Closures on Archives and Archivists
We understand that many of our members have been personally affected by the emergency order to close archives. Some institutions have decided to delay contract renewals, resulting in temporary or permanent job losses for the most vulnerable and precariously employed. There have also been salary adjustments, reduced hours, and in some cases, layoffs of staff in a variety of positions.
There is now a real desire to reopen and begin serving our communities again. This cannot be done, though, until the safety and health of staff, volunteers, researchers, and visitors are considered. Resuming services, however limited or modified, will be risky and difficult. Any decision should be based on government and public health advice and must take into account the needs of staff first and foremost.
Knowing When It Is Safe to Reopen
Recovery planning will differ across the country, depending on local needs and regional risk factors. Any decision to reopen will also take into account the particular needs of the institution. The ACA urges directors, funders, and policymakers to consider a range of public health, safety, financial, and operational considerations before making a decision to reopen. These considerations might include:
1. Clear and Unambiguous Public Health and Safety Guidelines
Governments and public health authorities should provide clear and unambiguous guidelines for managing social interactions for service organizations. This would include, for example, guidance on how staff should interact with each other, including any modifications to facilities that will reduce the likelihood of virus transmission. This might include:
Recovery plans should also provide clear measures to implement when serving members of the public to reduce risk of infection. This might include:
There continues to be conflicting reports of the risk of virus transmission on surfaces or by cross-contamination through handling objects. For up to date information on caring for physical collections during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit the Canadian Conservation Institute at: https://www.canada.ca/en/conservation-institute/services/conservation-preservation-publications/canadian-conservation-institute-notes/caring-heritage-collections-covid19.html
Any archives unable to reopen because of an inability to comply with safety guidelines should be eligible for emergency support during an extended period following the end of the emergency order to close to ensure future operations.
2. Reassuring the Public
The ACA anticipates a long period of adjustment during which time archives will need strong public support and a focus on alternative service delivery methods to ensure continued operations. There has never been a more critical need for increased digital access to collections and virtual outreach programs. Staff may decide to refocus efforts on digitization and digital innovation.
3. People-First Approach
The ACA encourages a people-first approach to planning for a reopening. Just because the archives can be reconfigured to safely reopen does not mean that its people are prepared. Planning should consider:
The availability of staff. Some staff may be unavailable due to ill health or isolation. Some may be at home caring for children or other dependents and will not be able to fully return to work until plans can be made to re-open schools and other care facilities. Staff in large institutions may have been redeployed to other areas of the organization. If staff have been lost due to layoff or contracts ending, they will need to be brought back into the institution. Depending on the services provided, archives may need fewer or, in some cases, more staff to meet health and safety guidelines.
The availability of volunteers. Some archives rely on volunteers, many of whom are retirees, to contribute to the management of the organization and delivery of services. Planning for reopening should take into account the needs of volunteers who may or may not wish to return to service immediately or in the medium-term.
Even if staff and volunteers are available, planning should also consider the broader impact COVID-19 has had and will continue to have on the mental health of staff and volunteers. Many people have been personally impacted by the virus, either falling ill themselves or caring for a loved one. Some will have lost family members, friends, or loved ones to the virus. Planning should account for those who are not able to return to full-time work or are struggling to manage workload. The mental health of staff and volunteers needs to the greatest priority for everyone as archives reopen to a ‘new normal.’
Involving Archives and Records Professionals in Planning
The ACA urges government, directors, funders, and policymakers to recognize the value of archives in Canada. Archives do not function without records professionals. Therefore, archivists and recordkeepers should be included in any planning activities to reopen the archives. ACA members and the broader profession are strong advocates for documentary heritage, access to information, accountability, and community histories. Archivists want to serve their communities and the public. Let’s make sure that this is done safely and with health of staff, volunteers, researchers, and visitors top of mind.
Finally, the ACA encourages all archives and archivists to share openly their plans for reopening with the larger community of practice. We are all in this together and can learn from one another during this unprecedented time.
The ACA Board of Directors
* Thanks to the Museum Association for paving the way with its statement on reopening UK Museums. See: https://www.museumsassociation.org/news/04052020-reopening-the-museum-sector-ma-statement
Dear Archival Colleagues,
I am pleased to announce that Archivaria 89 (Spring 2020) is now available online at https://archivaria.ca/. It will also be available on Project Muse within the coming days. The print issue is in production and will be mailed to members and subscribers in the next few weeks. Canada Post is reporting delays to their service and this may affect when members receive their printed copies.
All Archivaria content is currently available to everyone without any restrictions. After June 30, 2020, we will be implementing a new embargo policy, by which access to articles included in the most recent two issues (instead of the last eight issues) is going to be restricted to members and subscribers.
With this issue, you'll also notice things have changed a bit on our website. In recent weeks, we upgraded the journal to a more responsive, mobile-friendly version of Open Journal Systems (OJS).
A huge thank you to the authors who have contributed to the new issue, to the Archivaria Editorial Team, and to the ACA office staff for all the hard work it takes to put an issue together.
Fiorella Foscarini, General Editor
Nominations for the ACA Board of Director Elections
Deadline Extended to 8 May 2020
The Nominations Committee, a sub-committee of the Governance Committee is seeking nominations for (4) ACA Director (Board) positions that are up for election at the ACA Annual General Meeting that will take place online Tuesday 23 June 2020, 12:00 EDT via Zoom.
Nominations are requested for the following positions:
· President (2 year term)
· Treasurer (2 year term)
· Director at Large 1 (2 year term)
· Director at Large 3 ( 2 year term)
The term of office for these positions is two years and may begin following the AGM and election in July 2020.
See here for a full description of the board positions and the time required for each elected position.
You may download the nomination form for signature here and submit your nomination form, online using the link below:
See also the ACA Nominations and Elections Policy here.
Directors must be individual members in good standing. Their nomination must be supported by five (5) ACA members. Those nominated must also provide a brief biography that will be made available to ACA members in advance of the AGM, will be posted on the ACA website and available on the electronic ballot.
The ACA welcomes more diverse and inclusive representation in the composition of its Board and Committees and encourages the nomination of all qualified individuals including women, members of racialized communities, Indigenous persons, persons with disabilities, and persons of any sexual orientation or gender identity.
Questions should be directed to Deirdre Bryden and Michael Gourlie from the Governance's nominating committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s time for another email full of links to news articles, blog posts, videos, and podcasts to pertaining to Indigenous people, cultures, and issues.
For the year ahead, we’ll be connecting these emails with the Moose Cree lunar-based calendar; the month of April aligns with Niski-piisim (Canada Goose Moon), signalling the return of migratory birds to Northern Ontario and the start of the annual spring goose hunt.
These links have been collected and are graciously provided by Alison Little, Senior Coordinator of Educational Programming and Exhibitions at the Archives of Ontario.
The list is provided for reference only and the ACA does not guarantee the accuracy or comprehensiveness of each resource, nor endorse a particular perspective. Our aim is only to provide opportunities for our members to learn more about Indigenous peoples and colonial issues.
The Nominations Committee, a sub-committee of the Governance Committee is seeking nominations for 4 (four) ACA Director (Board) positions that are up for election at the ACA Annual General Meeting. This year's AGM will take place online Tuesday 23 June 2020, 12:00 EDT via Zoom. ACA members in good standing can RSVP here and you will be emailed information and meeting details.
Nominations are requested for the following positions:
The term of office for these positions is two years and may begin
following the AGM and online election in July 2020.
See here for a full description of board positions and the time required for each elected position. You may download the nomination for for signature here and submit your nomination form online using the link below:
See also the ACA Nominations and Election Policy here.
Directors must be individual members in good standing. Their nomination must be supported by 5 (five) ACA members in good standing. Those nominated must also provide a brief biography that will be made available to ACA members in advance of the AGM, will be posted on the ACA website and available on the electronic ballot.
The ACA welcomes more diverse and inclusive representation in the composition of its Board and encourages the nomination of all qualified individuals including women, members of racialized communities, Indigenous persons, persons with disabilities and persons of any sexual orientation or gender identity.
Questions should be directed to Deirdre Bryden and Michael Gourlie from Governance's nominating committee at email@example.com.
The deadline for nominations is 24 April 2020.
Nominations and submission link here:
In light of the current situation with regards to COVID-19, we wish to provide an update concerning the status of the Association of Canadian Archivists’ annual conference scheduled for June 10-13, 2020 in Vancouver.
The Board, in consultation with the Program and Host teams, has decided to cancel the in-person conference. We are currently working with all of our speakers to provide instead a virtual conference. This decision to provide an online conference was made to recognize the work already done by the Program Committee and the speakers who committed to delivering quality content. We also acknowledge our members’ desire for excellent professional development opportunities.
The conference workshops will go ahead at a later date outside of the virtual conference. We believe this will provide more opportunities for everyone to attend more workshops, while minimizing screen time!
Further conference program and workshop details will be announced in the coming weeks.
In agreement with the Archivaria Board, we are also pleased to announce that we have opened Archivaria to everyone until June 30, 2020.
We are all disappointed with not going to Vancouver this year. Rest assured that we are working on plans to return in 2022, after ACA 2021 in Charlottetown.
We thank you for your understanding and look forward to seeing you virtually. Best wishes to you during these difficult times.
ACA Board of Directors
After a brief hiatus, we are happy to share another post full of links to news articles, blog posts, videos, and podcasts pertaining to Indigenous people, cultures, and issues. These links have been collected and are graciously provided by Alison Little, Senior Coordinator of Educational Programming and Exhibitions at the Archives of Ontario.
For the year ahead, we’ll be connecting these emails with the Moose Cree lunar-based calendar, where new year begins in March with Mikisiwi-piisim (Eagle Moon). The moon of March signals the return of the first migratory birds (those with talons), and with them the start of a new annual cycle.
Media Indigena: When Coronavirus and Colonialism Collide (ep. 201)
First Nations artists, business owners promote their work online amid COVID-19 social distancing
COVID-19 concerns, closures have families and communities heading out on the land
Tribunal orders Canada to compensate parents who lost children in care
SmartICE: Supporting Inuit knowledge of the landscape with technology
‘A nightmare scenario’ — Indigenous communities are bracing for COVID-19
The Government of Canada Consults with Indigenous Peoples on the Implementation of the Indigenous Languages Act
Sewing, seal stew and stories: Inuit women in Ottawa gather to share traditions
A Métis Royal Rumble: Identity, Politics & The Failure Of Our Leadership
When multiple First Nations lay claim to ancient Indigenous remains, how does repatriation get sorted?
Indigenous youth co-develop a new way to measure their health
Government of Canada partners with Tłı̨chǫ First Nation to protect culturally important land in the Northwest Territories
965 Indigenous artifacts found in Kitchener during road construction
The blockades no one talks about devastate Indigenous economies
Wet’suwet’en: a wake-up call for Canada
'Reconciliation is dead and it was never really alive': Jesse Wente
Indigenous MPPs: Why we won’t sing ‘God Save the Queen’ at Queen’s Park today
'Reconciliation Is Dead,' Says MPP Sol Mamakwa After Tyendinaga Arrests
‘Historic’ meeting between Mohawk and Wet’suwet’en Nations occurs in Kahnawake
Elected Mohawk Chiefs call for Canada to respect traditional leadership and “see beyond the Indian Act”
A pipeline offers a stark reminder of Canada’s ongoing colonialism
Yolanda Bonnell's bug is an enthralling journey into Indigenous women's lives
Putting the RCMP raid on the Wet’suwet’en in historical perspective
Indigenous languages are seeing a dramatic revival through the arts
Partnerships form to repatriate cultural items
New wave of voices on #Indigenous TikTok
The breathtaking hypocrisy of the howls for "rule of law"
‘Institutionalized racism’ behind over-representation of Indigenous people in prisons
Indigenous water activist Autumn Peltier challenges politicians during World Economic Forum
Suspended: Metis Nation of Ontario out of national council, but is the decision valid?
Due to the current situation with regards to COVID-19, we wish to provide an update concerning our annual conference scheduled for June 10-13, 2020 in Vancouver.
We are currently exploring all options for the conference, including moving the conference to a virtual delivery format, postponing the conference to a later date or, if need be, cancelling it. The Board is meeting weekly to reassess the situation and takes into account first and foremost the health and safety of all our members and delegates, but also the feasibility of people to travel out of province or internationally and the financial obligations of the ACA thus far.
The Board, in consultation with our Host and Program Committees Teams as well as U.B.C., will communicate its decision to members and conference participants on April 2nd.
Until then, we ask that you refrain from registering or making travel arrangements. Full refunds will be made at your request if you have already paid.
We thank you for your understanding and wish you well during these difficult times.
ACA Board of Directors
2020 Program and Host Committees
With growing global spread of COVID-19, the Association of Canadian Archivists (ACA) is concerned about the health, safety and well-being of archivists and recordkeeping professionals. It’s time to close the archives to the public and allow staff to make decisions about where to safely continue their work.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and Canada’s Chief Medical Officer of Health have urged all Canadians to practice social distancing to limit the spread of the virus. In response, many schools have now closed, and universities and colleges have moved classes online. These precautionary efforts are proactive and prioritize the safety of students, staff and faculty. At this time, there is little benefit to allowing researchers to physically access archives and special collections. It’s time to suspend in-person visits and encourage staff to work from home where appropriate.
In many locations across Canada, public services have been suspended or curtailed, including public library services. The ACA strongly encourages the closure of all public archives, museums, local history rooms, and historical sites as an additional proactive measure.
The ACA acknowledges that any closure or reduction of services will disproportionately affect student workers, contract staff and hourly workers who may lose wages or access to benefits during this time. The ACA encourages employers to consider any and all opportunities to allow for remote work. Possible projects include: 
Administrative work, such as:
If staff continue to work from office buildings, they should continue to follow good health and safety practices. Where possible, remain at least two arms lengths from other people, wash your hands frequently, and avoid touching your face. Do not work in an unsafe environment.
For up-to-date information about COVID-19, visit Infection Prevention and Control Canada at: https://ipac-canada.org/coronavirus-resources.php or call the Coronavirus Hotline at: 1-833-784-4397.
We appreciate that the global COVID-19 pandemic is increasingly worrisome and that mitigation efforts will require significant adjustments. In these challenging times, we remain ready to advocate for archives and recordkeeping professionals. We also acknowledge the strength of our professional community and the good will that characterizes ACA membership. Let’s keep this community safe and healthy so that they can care for our important documentary heritage now and in the future.
 Thanks to the SAA Accessibility and Disability Section for compiling this list of work tasks and projects that archivists can do remotely. For more ideas, visit the Section’s growing google resource page here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/16ubmmTtJ7oCjbUFI_75fqG9J62pul9dg_RCd4au4tMw/mobilebasic
Dear Archival Colleagues:
Because of concerns about COVID-19, the Association of Canadian Archivists has received questions about the status of our June conference. We share your concern and have been monitoring developments on COVID-19. We want you to know that the ACA’s 45th Annual Conference will continue as planned at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, 10 to 13 of June.
We will continue to monitor the situation and re-evaluate as may be needed. We recognize that some universities have issued statements on academic travel and we will work to determine how to manage these statements and advisories.
Our top priority is the health and safety of our members, speakers, exhibitors and other conference attendees. Health Canada authorities continue to provide strong assurances that Vancouver is a safe city to visit and that the risk to Canadian travelers coming to Vancouver remains extremely low.
The ACA assures you that your safety is our priority. We are committed to offering you the best in professional development and the invaluable opportunity to spend time with your archival colleagues. We hope you’ll join us in Vancouver this June.
Loryl MacDonald, ACA President
The following list provides you with links to the most accurate and updated information on COVID-19.
BC Centre for Disease Control
Health Canada – Travel Advisories
Government of Canada: COVID-19
World Health Organization
Public Awareness & Advocacy
Suite 1912-130 Albert Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5G4
Tel: 613-383-2009 x100
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