Indigitization program aims to preserve aboriginal history

Even if aboriginal oral history is recorded, it still might need a second step to ensure it's saved.

A new program, dubbed Indigitization, aims to help northern First Nations communities preserve that history in a digital form.

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"We really want the communities themselves to identify what they want to do," said Allan Wilson, University of Northern B.C.'s librarian.

UNBC announced Thursday the Northern B.C. Archives and Special Collections would be forming "a unique partnership" with the University of British Columbia's Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, as well as UBC's museum of anthropology and library and archival studies departments.

The archives have bought a digitizing kit so communities can come to them for help converting their oral archives into a future-friendly format.

"It's for community audio cassette digitizing," said Wilson, adding they have already done one workshop. There might be recordings out there from elders," he said. "Audio degrades and we're concerned about this."

It will be offering an Indigitization Grant Program for a community-led approach, which will offer hands-on training workshops and the use of an Indigitization Tool Kit for the necessary conversion to "a preservation digital format."

"The archives hopes to assist those indigenous communities in northern B.C. that are seeking to build capacity and effective in-house management of its digital heritage resources," the UNBC announcement noted.

"There are obvious cultural sensitivities so really this is a community program where those communities identify with what do they want to convert," Wilson said.

The archives already has three working memorandums with different bands for other projects, Wilson said, and the hope is to build similar partnerships.

"It's early days, we're working with folks, seeing the interest but also encouraging them to explore this opportunity and look at the Indigitization program and in particular to look at the grants."

For more information on the program, interested communities can visit the Indigitization website at www.indigitization.ca or contact the Northern BC Archives at: archives@unbc.ca.

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