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Describing Indigenous Resources

Describes the activity undertaken at UVic Libraries to improve description of Indigenous people, communities, and resources.

Principles of Indigenous Description

Principles of Indigenous Description

UVic Libraries will uphold the following principles in applying descriptive metadata to resources by and about Indigenous peoples.

We “acknowledg[e] the structural biases and inadequacies in existing schemes of knowledge organization and information retrieval arising from colonialism;” while “adopting an ethic based upon the commitment to integrating Indigenous and Western knowledges into access, arrangement, description, classification and cataloguing praxis;” (CFLA, p. 28).

  1. Descriptive metadata will reflect the diversity of Indigenous peoples. It will be specific and comprehensive in its description. In response to the following:

“Indigenous peoples have the right to dignity and diversity of their cultures, traditions, histories and aspirations which shall be appropriately reflected in education and public information.” (UNDRIP, 15.1)

“States shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention of, and redress for:

a. Any action which as the aim or effect of depriving them of their integrity as distinct peoples, or of their cultural values or ethnic identities;

d. Any form of forced assimilation or integration;” (UNDRIP 8.2 a) and d)

“First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples, as the original peoples of this country and as self-determining peoples, have Treaty, constitutional, and human rights that must be recognized and respected.” (Principles of Truth and Reconciliation #2)

2. Descriptive metadata for Indigenous communities, places, and persons will be expressed in the language, script, and terminology  as specified by the community or person.

In response to the following:

“Indigenous peoples have the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures, and to designate and retain their own names for communities, places, and persons.” – (UNDRIP 13.1)

“Identify and use culturally appropriate orthographies and, where possible and appropriate, include Canadian Aboriginal Syllabics. Use preferred traditional names.” (A Reconciliation Framework for Canadian Archives, p.22)

“Embrace fluidity and expandability in description standards. As language is political, fluid and constantly changing in meaning and application, description practices should also remain open to future interpretations and annotations while maintaining historical contexts.” (A Reconciliation Framework for Canadian Archives, p.23)

3. The descriptive metadata process will respect and reflect the ongoing rights of Indigenous peoples to revitalize, maintain, and protect past, present, and future manifestations of their culture.

In response to the following:

“Indigenous peoples have the right to practise and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs. This includes the right to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures, such as archaeological and historical sites, artefacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies and visual and performing arts and literature.” (UNDRIP 11.1)

“Supporting Aboriginal peoples’ cultural revitalization and integrating Indigenous knowledge systems, oral histories, laws, protocols, and connections to the land into the reconciliation process are essential.” (Principles of Truth and Reconciliation #8)

4. Descriptive metadata changes will be made in engagement with Indigenous peoples and their representative institutions.

In response to the following:

“States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.” (UNDRIP 19)

5. Descriptive metadata will align with the First Nations Principles of OCAP, particularly Indigenous peoples’ Ownership and Control over their cultural knowledge, data, information, and research and information processes that impact them.

6. Descriptive metadata will, whenever possible, attempt to maintain descriptions that reflect original biased descriptions and outdated recorded racist terminology to acknowledge past professional complicity in colonial practices. (Reconciliation Framework for Canadian Archives, p. 23).


CFLA-FCAB Truth and Reconciliation Report and Recommendations 

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP)

Principles of Truth and Reconciliation

A Reconciliation Framework for Canadian Archives

OCAP Principles

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