The chance to tell your story in your own words is power. For a very long time, Canadian Muslim communities have had their representations, stories, and identities shaped by mainstream media, overwhelmingly non-Muslim and burdened with narratives of terrorism, war, violence, Islamophobia, and extremism. To talk back to such narratives is to take back the reins of representation, and create the possibility of a more robust, diverse, and representative account of Muslims in Canada. As our environmental scan has already shown, the need for such an archive is paramount in Canada.
The Muslims in Canada Archives (MiCA), a collaborative and participatory initiative at the IIS, provides a platform for that missing voice in Canada. MiCA acquires, organizes, preserves, and makes accessible records of and about Canadian Muslim individuals and organizations that possess enduring value for the preservation of the history and documentary heritage of Muslims in Canada.
MiCA’s acquisition policy is publicly available here to guide potential donors – like you – to understand what we do, what we collect, who we are, and what we are not. Take a look if you or your organization is thinking about donating.
WHAT WE DO
It is very easy to say that MiCA will “collect, organize, preserve, and make accessible” archival materials/records. But you may be wondering what that looks like, step-by-step.
MiCA COLLECTS: We acquire the records of Muslim individuals, families or organizations in Canada to document the history of Muslims in Canada. Of course, not all of their records have enduring value or fit within the mandate and collection priorities of the MiCA Acquisitions Policy. We’ll assess the records for their historical and archival value, and select the ones we’ll acquire for MiCA based largely on a thorough understanding of the surrounding context of the records’ creation, the MiCA Acquisitions Policy, and whether the records may be more suitable for another archives.
MiCA ORGANIZES: Once we have the records, we’ll arrange and describe them according to both professional archival best practices and community needs so that they can be easily found and understood by all users.
MiCA PRESERVES: Not all records are in the best shape, especially if they’ve been sitting in a basement for 20+ years. Similarly, archival materials are usually unique and sometimes even rare – there often only exists one copy of a single record in the world. As a result, MiCA will take necessary steps to ensure the protection and preservation of the records it acquires for potential use in the future.
MiCA MAKES ACCESSIBLE: MiCA will provide access to the records in its archives both physically and, where applicable, digitally on its online platforms. Although some records may be subject to restrictions based on applicable laws, MiCA’s discretion, or donor wishes, MiCA’s holdings are otherwise open to a wide breadth of users: historians, students, researchers, activists, community members, artists, and so on. Similarly, MiCA may also use the records in its holdings to create exhibitions, organize awareness and outreach initiatives or to educate classes, organizations, students, and more.
WHAT IS A “RECORD” or “ARCHIVAL MATERIAL”?
First of all, “records” and “archival materials” are often used interchangeably. A record is almost anything as long as we have some idea of its context (i.e. who made it, when it was made, why it was made, and so on) and it can present some kind of information to the viewer – whether physically or digitally. Some examples, in both digital and physical formats, include photographs, videos (ie. DVDs, VHS, etc), letters, draft manuscripts, CDs, hard drives, audiovisual materials (i.e. cassettes, film, etc), oral histories, meeting minutes, reports, shopping lists, and so on.
MiCA is a collaborative project involving Canadian individuals, universities, and community organizations working in concert to preserve a diverse and wide-ranging history that is currently not reflected in Canada’s documentary heritage. The IIS is pleased to partner with the following community, archival, and academic institutions to develop and launch MiCA:
- Archives Ontario
- Black Muslim Initiative (BMI)
- Canadian Council of Muslim Women (CCMW)
- The Inspirit Foundation
- Library and Archives Canada
- Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador (MUN)
- Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (MANAL)
- National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM)
- The Tessellate Institute (TTI)
- Université Laval (LavalU)
- The University of Toronto Libraries
If you have any questions, comments or concerns about MiCA, please contact the archives coordinator, Moska Rokay, at firstname.lastname@example.org.