Image: Letter to Dad from Stanley William Bird, 1918. (SPRA 0594.03)
In 2020, the South Peace Regional Archives launched a major project, titled “Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records,” with financial support from Library and Archives Canada. The purpose of the project was to increase awareness of and access to Indigenous-related records within the Archives’ collections: by re-appraising, describing or re-describing, and digitizing more than 300 records in 70 fonds. This project is vital step in the Archives’ ongoing work towards Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. We are now able to share these records with the community.
In the letter we are highlighting this week, Stanley William Bird writes from LaGlace to his father about the many rumours surrounding the sensational murder of seven men, the accused, and the money which allegedly motivated the murders. Bird also reports on the local wildlife, the 1 July Sports Day, and the participation of “Indians” in the events. He reports that he will also be going hunting with an Indigenous man, “Wi-Kit-sis”. The compete letter is available on Alberta on Record. It is part of the Stanley William Bird fonds (Fonds 594). Born in England, but raised in Saskatchewan, Bird returned to his Saskatchewan home after filing for a homestead in the Peace, but died of Spanish flu on Christmas Day, 1918.
Today we are self-conscious about using outdated terms are offensive or ethnocentric, revealing attitudes which are not acceptable. What understanding (however limited) of Indigenous life and people does this letter show? How has our contemporary knowledge and attitude improved today?