For generations, the Canadian government perpetrated what many refer to as genocide against indigenous people, actively breaking apart families and traditions through generations of war, displacement and reeducation programs like residential schools. Along the way, the government kept records of indigenous people that are often more extensive and invasive than those kept on non-Indigenous Canadians. Those records are publicly available but difficult to navigate, so the Vancouver Public Library and the Library and Archives Canada created the Connections to Kith and Kin program to help indigenous community members navigate the archives to collect the broken links of their lineage and piece them back together. Some participants come with binders of information and some with only their own names.
When I shot this story last spring, I didn’t realize that it would be the last time I would gather with a group of strangers in 2020. I flied it the Friday before COVID shut Canada down. The program has now, fortunately, moved online.
I wrote and shot this story for The Globe and Mail.
How Indigenous people and Vancouver librarians are redrawing family trees that colonialism nearly erased
Through the Connections to Kith and Kin program, Indigenous people cut off from their families can enlist the help of professional archivists to sort through Library and Archives Canada records for clues to their pasts