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Passion, Participation, Digital Projects

 Darlene Fichter, University of Saskatchewan, says that passion is the most important component of digital project on digitizing items relating to First Nations, Meis, and Inuit peoples. Participation from over 80 people and 7 archives. Funded by grants. Lots of flexibility and adaptability involved.

She’s showing the hope page of Our Legacy.
Six aboriginal languages in the area, but didn’t use all of them on the website, only Cree and Dene plus English. Browse by all institutions or just one. Faceted browse uses Drupal. Play to peoples’ strengths. Lots of metadata fields. Not everything is online, so results page shows thumbnails of items that are online. Photo collections from a photographer who followed indigenous families. Dates are problematic for unpublished materials.
They got lots of input and feedback. Faculty and students very passionate.
Lessons learned: Ask "how could we?" and "what if?" Build on strengths (Drupal, RAD, Metadata, Relationships). Embrace learning. Create more energy, enthusiasm and satisfaction. Be adaptable. Respect privacy, consult with the community, and honor the traditions. Since indigenous peoples own property as a community rather than as individuals, getting permissions is difficult.
Things to do better: Make content transparent and comparable early on. Tap everybody’s knowledge better. Work with others to develop protocols.
Passion is fueling the promotion of the site from pow wows to scholarly journals. New ideas are still being proposed. There’s word of mouth marketing.
When people are passionate, they work harder than if you’re paying them money. A book will be published. Passion continues to live. Tap into the passions of your organization when you embark on a project.
Marydee Ojala


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