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Presenter Bios and Abstracts

Sessions on Monday, October 24, 2022

"Community Collecting & Engagement at the Beaton Institute" – Jane Arnold & Rachel Head, Beaton Institute Archives


Jane Arnold has been an archivist at the Beaton Institute at Cape Breton University since 2008. Jane participates in the heritage community as a member of the boards for Heritage Cape Breton Connection and St. George's Heritage Society, plus she is the President of the Council of Nova Scotia Archives. Previously, Jane served as Vice President for the CNSA and was the Chair of the Education Committee. She also helped facilitate the redesign of courses for the CNSA's Archival Certificate Program.

Rachel Head is the Indigenous Information Specialist Librarian at Cape Breton University Library/Unama'ki College. Prior to her appointment, she worked on contract at the Beaton Institute processing the Sarah Denny Cultural Collection.

"Looking Back, Moving Forward: Documenting the Heritage of African Nova Scotians" – Patti Bannister, Provincial Archivist and Director, Nova Scotia Archives


Patti Bannister is a native Newfoundlander who spent the first decade of her archival career working with the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador. During that time Patti held a number of different positions, including Manuscript Archivist, Education and Outreach Archivist, and Archives Manager.  In 2003 Patti and her family moved to Halifax, where she took on the duties of Congregational Archivist for the Sisters of Charity, Halifax. In 2013 she began work at Nova Scotia Archives as Manager and is now Provincial Archivist & Director.  Throughout her career, Patti has also been closely involved in archival education and training, teaching and leading workshops for the Association of Newfoundland & Labrador Archives, the College of the North Atlantic, the Council of Nova Scotia Archives, and is currently a Lecturer at Dalhousie’s School of Information Management.

"Refreshing the Record: Heritage Saskatchewan’s Community Living Heritage Projects" – Kristin Catherwood, Director of Living Heritage, Heritage Saskatchewan


Since 2017 Heritage Saskatchewan, a non-profit organization, has produced five community-based living heritage projects: Coal in Coronach (2017); Val Marie Elevator (2018); gee meeyo pimawtshinawn/It Was a Good Life: Saskatchewan Métis Road Allowance Memories (2019); Covid-19 Culture (2020); and Black and Rural Saskatchewan (2022). Incorporating tenets of UNESCO’s 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, the projects document living heritage in Saskatchewan communities. All the materials collected for the projects, ranging from oral and video interviews, associated transcripts, photographs, and finished  documentary videos and written publications, have been donated to the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan (PAS) to ensure contemporary living heritage in the province has a place in the permanent record. The key to the success of these projects has been a strong emphasis on relationship-building and community outreach, particularly to underrepresented groups like rural and remote communities, Indigenous, Métis, Black, and Hutterite communities, to mention a few. This approach, and the vision of continuing to contribute to the provincial archives, serves to refresh and revitalize the historical record in Saskatchewan.

She mentioned two videos in her presentation:

Val Marie Elevator living heritage project student reflections video

Covid-19 Culture videos


Kristin Catherwood has been with Heritage Saskatchewan since 2015. Previously, she worked for SaskCulture and the National Film Board's Grasslands Project. She is a storyteller and filmmaker who is passionate about the cultural landscape of the prairies and the continuing resilience of Saskatchewan communities.

"Shifting Paradigms: Creating More Equitable and Inclusive Practices at the Archives of Ontario" – Amir Lavie, Sean Smith, and Simon Vickers, Archives of Ontario


Alongside many other archival institutions, the Archives of Ontario is undergoing a paradigm shift. Through several projects currently underway, the institution is seeking to become more inclusive in its collections development and management activities. Our aim is to dedicate time to learning from, listening to and building relationships with the many communities that call Ontario their home and that are mis-, under- or unrepresented in our holdings. In this presentation, we will share some of the projects and / or approaches we have initiated with the hopes of making our work archival practices to be more equitable, diverse and inclusive. 


Amir Lavie (he/his) is an archivist at the Archives of Ontario Collections Development and Management Unit and a member of its ‘Community engagement’ team. He was involved with producing the AO’s new research guide “Records related to Multiculturalism and Ethno-Cultural Communities in Ontario”. His PhD research, submitted to the University of Toronto’s iSchool, explored the creation and growth of Canadian Jewish community archives during the 1970s against the backdrop of federal and provincial Multiculturalism policies and initiatives.

Sean Smith (he/his) is a Senior Archivist in the Collections Development and Management Unit at the Archives of Ontario. He previously held positions at the Clara Thomas Archives at York University and Library and Archives Canada. In total, he has been preserving and sharing history for over 20 years. During the pandemic, he has been focussed on issues related to community development, GLAM Wiki and digital records. He is also a runner, a reader and a father of two.

Simon Vickers (he/his) is an Archivist in the Collections Development and Management Unit at the Archives of Ontario. He holds a PhD in history from University of Toronto with a focus on histories of Neighbourhood activism and memory-work in Toronto and Montreal.

"Quick tips for making your Archives more accessible" – Lisa Snider, Access Changes Everything


Lisa will give three tips that will help you make your archival digital materials, including images, more accessible for people with different disabilities.


Lisa Snider has worked with the CNSA since 2019 as Interim Archives Advisor, MemoryNS Coordinator and is now the MemoryNS Support Specialist. She became a digital archivist in 2010, and has worked with analog, digital and hybrid collections all over North America, including at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and the Harry Ransom Centre at the University of Texas at Austin. 

Lisa’s passion in life is working with website, document, audio, video, social media, email, e-book, and app accessibility. She shares her knowledge to help others lower barriers in these digital materials, making them more accessible for people with different disabilities. She has worked on accessibility legislation in Manitoba, Nova Scotia and now in the Federal realm. Lisa is a well-known advocate for archival accessibility, and specializes in born-digital access and preservation accessibility.

"Building Bridges by Unlocking Collections" – Karin Kierstead, Association of Nova Scotia Museums


In 2022 the Association of Nova Scotia Museum received a Museum Assistance Program grant to conduct consultations with four founding cultures – Acadian, African Nova Scotian, Gaelic and M’ikmaq – with the goal of building bridges, ensuring communities have access to artifacts and collections, and developing a community-led digitization strategy. 

This session will use a case study format to share one approach to decolonizing collections in collaboration with communities. To date, eight community sessions have taken place and two more are being planned. Examples will be shared to demonstrate how earlier documentation work can be revisited and rewritten. Attendees will also hear about the methodology used for each community consultation session, the key themes and calls to actions put forward by community members, and how these will translate into next steps. 

The session will encourage museums and archives to go outside of their physical spaces and typical spheres of activity to partner with communities and abandon traditional western notions of authority and ownership. It will encourage session attendees to look at their own collections and identify opportunities for decolonization.


Karin’s Maritime roots run deep, with Planter and United Empire Loyalist ancestors in both New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Born and raised in New Brunswick, Karin spent much of her childhood traveling around Nova Scotia visiting grandparents and other relatives, providing her with a familiarity of back roads and shortcuts that comes in handy when she’s visiting museums.

Holding a degree in Archaeology from Wilfrid Laurier University and a diploma in Collections Conservation & Management from Sir Sandford Fleming College, she has worked with museums and heritage organizations in a variety of roles for over 15 years. Her work with ANSM has covered a broad range of tasks but the focus has largely been on the Advisory Service – digitization, database management, online collections and weaving community engagement into collections management work. She teaches the Museums 101 and Collections Management & Curatorship workshops of the Museum Studies Certificate Program, and manages the Museum Evaluation Program.

"Can the CNSA be a vehicle for change? The Reconciliation Working Group Report" – Sharon Murray, Council of Nova Scotia Archives


In response to the SCAA’s release of “A Reconciliation Framework for Canadian Archives” (now the "Reconciliation Framework"), in September 2020, the Council of Nova Scotia Archives (CNSA) established a Reconciliation Working Group (RWG). The goal of the RWG was to determine what actions the CNSA should take to assist our members with implementing the Framework and to forward reconciliation within the Council and its membership. In this presentation, Sharon will overview the RWG’s process and the draft of their report with an emphasis on their 14 recommendations for the Council. The RWG is still seeking feedback on their report and recommendations, so Sharon will also be asking for your input!


Sharon Murray is the Archives Advisor for the Council of Nova Scotia Archives (CNSA). She holds a BFA from NSCAD University (2005), an MA in Art History from Concordia University (2007), and nearly completed a PhD before being drawn into archives. Sharon’s research, teaching, and publications focused on the history of photography and specifically, archives of photographs in and from Nova Scotia. Her passion for archival research led her to find work in archives in Montreal and Halifax, which, in turn, opened the door to a new career. Sharon furthered her archival education through courses from the Northeast Documentation Conservation Center, the CNSA, and Dalhousie’s School of Information Management. Now the CNSA’s Archives Advisor, Sharon is passionate about advancing the Council and its member archives through education and services for the community. She is also dedicated to forwarding reconciliation, equity, and diversity in archival practice in Nova Scotia/Mi’kma’ki.

Sessions on Tuesday, October 25, 2022

"Engage, Educate, Empower: Centring the Expertise of Community" – Heather Harkins, Saint Mary’s Genealogy Research Centre

Abstract: This presentation shares the story of how the St. Mary's Genealogy Research Centre worked with a trained archivist to process two marvelous donations of local fonds. Using the knowledge of community volunteers to recognize and articulate the value of this material, it was arranged, described, rehoused, and shared on MemoryNS. Every stage of our workflow was guided by community members while carefully following Canadian archival standards like the Rules for Archival Description. I've boiled down some of our best tips and techniques for collectively working with regional fonds, and it will be a pleasure to reveal them at the 2022 conference!  

Bio: Nova Scotian archivist Heather Harkins completed her graduate studies at the George Eastman Museum and University of Rochester in New York state. She’ll be joining the conference from Indian Head, Saskatchewan, where she is currently working for Film Rescue International. She could talk all day about archives, and can be reached via email

"A picture is better than no picture" – Thea Wilson-Hammond, Eastern Shore Archives

Abstract: “A picture, however bad, is better than no picture” was a favourite saying of one of the Eastern Shore Archives’ founding members, Arthur Blake Mitchell. While we aspire to have scanning and storing procedures and protocols, the phrase is, in fact, very true. This presentation will discuss a community photo database project that began in 1995 before the archives even had a roof over its head. Topics touched on will include scanning workflow, community outreach, procedure and protocols, and lessons learned. With over 4,000 images in the database, can we say if a picture is really better than no picture at all?

Bio: Thea Wilson-Hammond grew up in Clam Harbour, Nova Scotia. As a child of back-to-the-landers she had an early upbringing in useful skills like slaughtering pigs, chopping firewood and growing vegetables. All good skills that serve her well in her present job. Whilst living away from the Eastern Shore, she picked up a degree in Religious Studies and Irish from Saint Mary’s University, spent six years in Killarnery, Ireland as an equestrian tour guide, and eventually returned to Nova Scotia to establish her own business, The Wordsmith Works, where she handled numerous environmental education and museum research / exhibit writing contracts. In 2000, Thea and her husband moved back to Clam Harbour to raise their two daughters. In 2005, Thea became the Executive Director of the Lake Charlotte Area Heritage Society, which owns and operates Memory Lane Heritage Village. Thea completed the CNSA’s Archival Certificate program and assisted in the creation of the Eastern Shore Archives, a primarily volunteer-staffed Institutional Archives responsible for the records of more than 70 communities between Lawrencetown and Ecum Secum.

Workshop: Best Practices in Oral HistoryDr. Meghann Jack, Dr. Martha MacDonald, and Dr. Shamus MacDonald

Abstract: This workshop will explore best practices in digital audio-recording techniques, approaches to interviewing and question development, ethics and informed consent, and how to process your recordings for archival deposit and preservation. There will be hands-on opportunities to practice techniques. No previous experience is necessary. 

Bios: Dr. Meghann Jack, Dr. Martha MacDonald, and Dr. Shamus MacDonald are all folklorists who have extensive training and experience in cultural documentation, oral history interviewing, and community-based research.