BCHF News BC Historic Collections added to UNESCO Canada Memory of the World Register

BC Historic Collections added to UNESCO Canada Memory of the World Register

On March 27, the Canadian Commission for UNESCO announced the inclusion of two historic collections at the Royal BC Museum — The Ida Halpern collection, and the Vancouver Island Treaties — into the Canada Memory of the World Register.

Dr. Ida Halpern captured an unprecedented number of sound recordings of leading elders in predominantly Kwakwaka’wakw, but also Nuu-chah-nulth, Tlingit, Haida, and Coast Salish communities. Many of the elders Dr. Halpern recorded were willing to offer songs because they recognized the generational decline in the common usage of their Indigenous culture and the impending loss of cultural practices if not recorded.

Although the records of the Vancouver Island Treaties were primarily intended to ensure that Aboriginal title was extinguished to enable settlement by newcomers, the agreements safeguarded rights held by the First Nations communities, including the right to fish, hunt, and cultivate land.

The purpose of the Memory of the World Register program is to “facilitate the preservation of documentary heritage and ensure access to it. The international register and national registers objective is to raise awareness about the importance of documentary heritage as the “memory” of humanity” (UNESCO, 2018).

Also added to the Canada Memory of the World Register are:

  • Canadian Pacific Railway Company Fonds, Canadian Railroad Historical Association
  • Witnesses of Founding Cultures: Early Books in Aboriginal Languages (1556-1900), Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec
  • Images of Quebec City and the surrounding area (1860 to 1965): Photo archives of the J. E. Livernois Ltée fonds, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec
  • The Scrapbooks Debates, Library of Parliament