By Shari Narine
Sweetgrass Contributing Editor
November 23, 2016.
Reconciling Edmonton, a project using historic photographs to promote reconciliation in Edmonton, has been recognized with an honourable mention in the Community Programming category in the Governor General’s History Awards.
“It recognizes that community voices are important in telling the story and that it’s not only recognized institutions that have a role to play,” said Miranda Jimmy, Indigenous community member and co-founder of RISE or Reconciliation in Solidarity Edmonton.
The project took seven historic photographs from the City of Edmonton archives, the Provincial Archives of Alberta, the City of Edmonton and the Aboriginal Multi-Media Society to show reconciliation building over 140 years from the signing of Treaty Six to present day. The photos were then incorporated into a series of paintings and community-inspired poetry resulting in a co-created art display. Collaborating with RISE on the project were Daniele Metcalfe-Chenail, former Edmonton Historian Laureate; Anna Marie Sewell, former Edmonton Poet Laureate and Métis community member; and Jennie Vegt, former City of Edmonton Artist in Residence. Funding for the project came through a grant from the Edmonton Heritage Council.
“Our project is unique because it’s truly grassroots,” said Jimmy. She noted that the other projects which won and were shortlisted in the category were undertaken by more conventional heritage organizations.
Jimmy says the recognition the project received is a clear indication that there is room on the national stage to focus on reconciliation. Reconciling Edmonton applied to be considered for the award.
She also believes that the project has had an impact on the community
“It brought together diverse voices in traditional people who work and practise in the heritage sector as well as grassroots people, Indigenous, settler, all these voices that I don’t think would have had this conversation if it hadn’t have been for this project,” said Jimmy.
Reconciling Edmonton was first launched a year ago at an unveiling event along with the first ever round dance in Edmonton City Hall. Since then the artwork, poetry and archival photos have been on display in various locations across Edmonton. The project is currently being exhibited at the University of Alberta H.T. Coutts Library until Dec. 23, 2016.
Reconciling Edmonton competed with dozens of volunteer-led projects from across the country and was one of three projects to get honourable mentions. Winning in the category were projects by Reach Gallery Museum Abbottsford and Centre d'archives de Vaudreuil-Soulanges.
Two other projects in Alberta were shortlisted, including “The Agreement,” a short film written by Julian Black Antelope and co-produced with the Legal Archives Society. The film is based on the archival records relation to Lt. George T. Davidson, from Medicine Hat, who gave up his life of privilege as a lawyer to serve in the trenches in WWI.
One of the seven historical photos used for Reconciling Edmonton. (Photo: RISE)