News & Stories

Records and Archives Intern

The Wild Bird Trust of BC (WBT) is seeking a volunteer Records and Archives Intern who is responsible for reviewing, researching, evaluating, cataloging, and (where necessary) digitizing the paper archives of Wild Bird Trust of BC.
Photo of Deeks-McBride Sand and Gravel Company
Deeks-McBride Sand and Gravel Company. Photo from the North Vancouver Museum and Archives.

Approx. 10 hrs/week. May 3 – August 29, 2021
Maplewood Flats is operated by Wild Bird Trust of BC

The Wild Bird Trust of BC (WBT) is seeking a volunteer Records and Archives Intern who is responsible for reviewing, researching, evaluating, cataloging, and (where necessary) digitizing the paper archives of Wild Bird Trust of BC. 

Background

WBT is a non-profit charity founded in 1993 to manage the Conservation Area at Maplewood Flats. Our mission is to provide wild birds with sanctuary through ecological protection and restoration, and support communities with education, culture, and reconciliation programs. WBT is working to reflect and acknowledge Tsleil-Waututh Nation (TWN) culture, ongoing presence and stewardship of these lands and waters. 

Role and Responsibilities

As an organization with a 28+year history, we have a substantial archive in need of an inquisitive and capable archivist who has successfully completed the Core Courses in the Master of Archival Studies program. If you have a particular interest in conservation, wild birds, habitat restoration, and/or local Indigenous sovereignty, reconciliation, and redress efforts, this will add to the experience (see related historical info, below).

The Archives Intern will assist with updating our draft Records Management policy and procedures, and develop and implement an archival strategy for WBT’s current operational and historical records that is sustainable for the organization to maintain and accessible for staff, board, researchers and the public.

WBT is looking for ways to capture, maintain, share, and, where relevant, create stories/videos/content from these records, including digital archive projects. 

Under the guidance of the Executive Director, the Intern will: 

  • Inventory, record, catalogue and organize archived documents, 
  • Assist staff, volunteers and researchers in locating requested information and/or identifying target documents & databases,
  • Help update and customize a filing and records management policy and procedures

Ethics and the Workplace

The Archives Intern must:

  • maintain the confidentiality of all personal, private and professional information obtained within the course of their placement.
  • participate in and help ensure that WBT is a friendly, courteous, respectful and professional workplace that is free of harassment, discrimination, and other forms of marginalization.
  • extend the above conditions when working offsite or acting as a representative of WBT, including in virtual spaces.

Related Information

Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) leases Maplewood Flats to Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) for the Pacific Environmental Science Centre (PESC). WBT has an agreement with ECCC to manage the site until 2041. 

The Conservation Area at Maplewood Flats has a rich heritage of indigenous occupation and stewardship, but also a destructive colonial settler heritage which had severe negative impacts on both the natural environment and local Indigenous cultures.  

Some of these destructive industrial activities included clear-cutting in the early 1900’s, the operation of a sand and gravel quarry and mill up to the mid-1900’s which saw the construction of the Barge Channel (which still exists as a relic of that era) to ferry ores back through Burrard Inlet, and other activities such as a trucking depot, a car repair shop, and a dumping ground for fill from the development of the West End. Another piece of settler heritage at this site is the counter-cultural community of squatter shacks that were built on the flats, the last of which were burned down in the early 1970’s. 

The original and ongoing stewards of the land, the Tsleil-Waututh peoples of the Burrard Inlet subsisted and managed the mudflats and surrounding ecosystems for fishing, harvesting shellfish, trapping waterfowl, and more. The settler industrialization of the Inlet in the 20th century not only damaged bird and wildlife habitat, but more significantly, it upended 13,000 years of Coast Salish stewardship, land and water use, and ways of life. 

The Maplewood Flats has sometimes been referred to as a “jewel”, the last piece of undeveloped saltmarsh habitat on the Northshore, or a “pristine” green space. For many years the WBT operated under this assumption and did little to no public education or outreach that contradicted this rhetoric, as it served the narrative of the white environmental conservationist saviour mentality. This narrative lacks context and obscures Maplewood Flats’ true identity which is that of a post-industrial “brown” site. Furthermore, at present even though Maplewood Flats can be considered a “green area”, it is still a product of historical stressors and is currently surrounded by a mix of light to heavy industrial activity, including a chlorine manufacturing plant on the western edge of the site. 

Since 2017 the WBT has acknowledged that although the site was saved from Vancouver Port Authority development plans, its subsequent designation in 1993 to a conservation area essentially served to exclude and restrict the TWN from the site for a second time (after initial colonization). The first principle of conserving historic places in Canada is “understanding”. The WBT recognizes that its own understanding of the site has evolved, in a process of unlearning and relearning.

Today, the WBT is committed to reflecting a nuanced narrative in its programming and operations. It is important that the WBT approaches the concept of heritage with a holistic view that encompases not only the history and cultural heritage of the TWN and the colonial settler industrial heritage of the site, but also the role that settlers and settler heritage plays in the cultural genocide of local indigenous peoples.

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