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E.J. Pratt Library | Nêhiyaw (Cree) Syllabics & Decolonizing Archives

Nov. 06, 2023 2:00p.m. - 3:30p.m.

Register Here

Where: Online

About this Event: Please join us for a conversation about Nêhiyaw Syllabics and archival decolonization, hosted by Victoria University Library (Toronto). We aim to use the Nêhiyaw Syllabics as a case study related to the broader topic of decolonizing settler archives. Our panel includes Indigenous studies scholar and archivist Carmen Miedema and researcher Samara mîkiwin Harp. 

The syllabics are a Nêhiyaw (Cree) language system of writing that uses symbols to represent syllables. We will discuss Nêhiyaw early and original accounts of how the syllabary was given to the community as a sacred gift. In addition, we will discuss accounts that credit James Evans with developing the syllabary. The James Evans fonds at Victoria University Library currently houses syllabics and copies of a printed Nêhiyaw syllabic hymn book. Materials from the Evans fonds are available online. 

To provide background information and allow for an informed conversation, please review the required and supplementary readings prior to the event.

About the Speakers:

Carmen Miedema is a Nêhiyaw woman and mother of four from the Peepeekisis Cree Nation in Southern Saskatchewan. Carmen worked as a Digital Archive Assistant at the NCTR where she concentrated predominantly on the care of the Centre’s material object collections. Carmen holds a B.A. (Hons) in History and Anthropology from Brandon University; a M.A. in Archival Studies from the University of Manitoba, and is in the fourth year of her Ph.D. program through the Indigenous Studies department at the University of Manitoba. Her master’s thesis looked at the need for settler archives to build relationships with Indigenous communities, and how relationships have the potential to benefit not only the archives but more importantly, the communities.

Samara mîkiwin Harp was an archivist with the Listen, Hear Our Voices initiative at Library and Archives Canada. She now works in Woods Cree language revitalization and is further pursuing archival studies. Samara grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, with Cree roots in both the Southend and Pelican Narrows areas of Treaty 6 in northern Saskatchewan. The first of her father’s family arrived in Ontario in the 1800s from Ireland and England.