As part of the 2015 AGS Conference happening this weekend, I was able to attend pre-conference tours at both the Métis Nation of Alberta Genealogy Research Centre and the Edmonton Public School Board Archives. This photo features the Métis Nation GRC.
Genealogy is very important to the Métis Nation, in that a family tree traced back to the mid 1800's showing Métis heritage is required for membership. This is not just as simple as having an ancestor with one First Nations' parent and one white parent, the ancestor must have self-identified as Métis in historical records. The Métis Genealogy Research Centre has several record abstractions, copies of church records, HBC records, and Métis scrip books. While some independent research is possible, if you have reason to think you have Métis ancestry, the researchers at the Centre can check your family tree against their records and help you with the process of applying for membership. Even if your Métis ancestor lived a hundred years ago, you would be able to apply for membership today. Many Métis family trees have already been documented and are available at the Centre. What a resource! I don't know of any Métis ancestry in my family tree, but if I find any likely candidates I will definitely approach the Métis Nation GRC to look into it.
My afternoon tour was at the Edmonton Public School Board Archive, which is housed at the McKay Avenue school. They have several interesting types of documents on hand, including yearbooks, class lists, staff lists, and health and attendance cards. There are only a few yearbooks and such that a researcher can actually access independently, however. In most cases, the archivist suggests that you email or phone in advance with your research query, and a search will be performed for you.
The info you could potentially get at the EPSB archive seems very genealogically valuable. I am a little concerned with the lack of finding aids and ability to search on your own. First, without the ability to do your own search, it is difficult to determine the level of thoroughness of the search. The amount of time someone else is willing to put into your tree might be substantially less than the hours we willingly slave away on our own! Second, with all the government cutbacks that are a constant reality in Alberta, I worry about access should staffing levels change before finding aids and indexes could be created. Fears aside though, it is a great resource and we are lucky to have access to it at all, along with very interesting museum displays with free admission.
The conference starts tomorrow! Check back for my postings on it.