Everett Baker Award for Saskatchewan Heritage
This award is named for the SHFS’ first President, Everett Baker. Throughout his life, Everett Baker was a strong believer in the importance of understanding the past to build a better future, and as such he worked tirelessly to preserve local history. In that spirit, the Baker Award recognizes individuals, groups or organizations who have gone “above and beyond” to preserve and promote heritage in Saskatchewan. The award also recognizes efforts to call public attention to aspects of little-known Saskatchewan history.
Congratulations to the 2021 Everett Baker Award Winner, Paul Seesequasis!
Paul is the author of the Indigenous Archival Photo Project. The project's genesis was a conversation with his mother, a survivor of St. Michaels Residential School at Duck Lake. She commented that there was not enough coverage of the positive, day-to-day life from her youth.
In response, Paul began to search out archival images of First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities from the turn of the past century and beyond. He searched for pictures on themes of pride, family connections, humour, hard work, resilience, and resistance. Many photos of Saskatchewan were part of the project, including images from the SHFS's Everett Baker Collection.
As Paul began to post the photos online, there was an overwhelming response. The images sparked people to share memories and to recognize family members, communities, and themselves. Many of the pictures had not been seen before in their source communities. The project brought widespread awareness of the photos and their history.
The work has had tremendous significance in helping to explore the subversive function of archival images in reclaiming family and community history, memory, and intergenerational knowledge.
Paul’s work, which began nearly eight years ago, has grown and now includes a book, Blanket Toss Under Midnight Sun, gallery exhibitions, and more. His social media project now includes the work of modern Indigenous artists who are engaged in “turning the lens” and reframing Indigenous imagery. An archival website to house the legacy of his work is in development.
Anchored in the world of social media, the reach of the positive impacts for this work is beyond our ability to calculate. The contribution of time and effort to research, post, and respond to each photo's dialogue is, likewise, tremendous. In other words, you have indeed gone "above and beyond" and made a significant impact in bringing crucial historical knowledge to a wide audience. On behalf of the SHFS, we offer our heartfelt thanks for your efforts. Congratulations, Paul!