Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records at the South Peace Regional Archives

Photograph: Buying Fur. 1954. SPRA 0175.021.05 Part of Valleyview & District Chamber of Commerce Millennium Photograph Collection

The South Peace Regional Archives initiated a survey of the region’s holdings in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) call to actions to locate records within our holdings related to Indian Residential Schools. We found very few records related to residential schools, but we did find several records related to Indigenous people and communities in our region. We decided to expand the scope of our research to look for any records related to Indigenous peoples within our holdings.

Thanks to the efforts of staff and volunteers, we now have a small database of material to share. While we pursue avenues of access, we would like to start sharing some of these images and documents.

The original caption for this photograph reads, “Jim Clark, a clerk of the Sturgeon Lake Hudson’s Bay Store, buying fur from Francis Moostoos in 1954.” The fur trade often is considered a part of our distant past but this photograph provides evidence of its importance to local communities well into the modern age.

While fur trade records often provide tantalizing clues about the lives of the Indigenous peoples, the evidence comes from a settler perspective. What furs are trading hands? How important was fur trading to his economic and cultural life? Was he satisfied with this economic relationship? These are questions we cannot answer from this image.

If you have any stories, documents, or photographs that that document the history of the local fur trade from an Indigenous perspective, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us at info@southpeacearchives.org or 780-830-5105.