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Letter to the Editor: Wetaskiwin’s Archive status

Letter to the Editor by Betty Scharff
file photo

Dear Editor,

What is the first thing that the news broadcast asks the victims of fire, flood, or tornadoes?

How are you feeling about the disaster?

Answer - we lost all our family photos and mementos.

If copies of those photos and the family documents had a “fond” in their local activities, their family history would have been saved.

The city needs to open the archives with qualified staff and keep it open with a policy that does not allow any further inference by city employees or elected officials.

An archive is a place where people can go to gather firsthand facts, data, and evidence from letters, reports, notes, memos, photographs, and other primary sources.

I am surprised that the city staff who are supposed to be fairly well educated to hold those jobs and the mayor and the council members of whom two are former principals of our local schools - are so ignorant and seemly lack an education in social and the history department. I am ashamed to call them fellow educators.

I am wondering if any of these city bureaucrats took photos at Christmas and New Year.

If so, they should immediately delete all such “history” of their family. That “archiving” and this group has no respect for archiving.

I am also wondering how many of these elected members of council spent time following the “history” of the Christ child. That’s history and thus you don’t believe such a story is important to save.

The written works of all the world religions are all “history” and thus are being saved, but this Council must be all atheist since they are not respecting those of us who believe the history of our community and the families who created it is important…

We have entire universities that do nothing but teach and save the history of the world.

We have people with Masters and Doctoral in History. It is certain, that none of the council has that much education.

The history of the previous city councils and the present ones, names should blacken out of any documents, as they are the one who have caused the Wetaskiwin Archives to close. The archives was started by volunteers until it became too large when the city added all their documents to the community history.

Now think about the mess our archives are in. Who are we going to hire that has any common sense of background and education, to sort it all out so it is usable. Archivists are very rare. Think of the cost that could have been avoided.

The city implores us to “shop local”. But what did they do? They went outside of the area, to some consulting firm to solve the “archive problem”.

We have in this community more knowledge persons about “archives”, than any other city in Alberta. What an insult to those of us who were born, raised and educated in this community. But no, this council, farmed out thousands of dollars to the non-local researchers, when community volunteers would have cost nothing. The money spent on researchers could have run the Archive for a year.

I had the chance to give a grant of $5,000.00 to the Wetaskiwin Archives, that would have been in perpetuity. Because of the City attitude the grant went to Millet.

—Betty Scharff, Wetaskiwin