Title and statement of responsibility area
Paddling to Where I Stand collection
General material designation
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Title statements of responsibility
- Source of title proper: Title given by donor
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Edition statement of responsibility
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Physical description area
ca. 20 cm of textual records
102 photographs : prints and negatives
32 Audio Cassette Tapes
2 videos : VHS and Beta cassettes
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Archival description area
Name of creator
Martine J. Reid (née de Widerspach-Thor) was born in France. After completing her Master’s thesis on the role of salmon on the nineteenth- and twentieth-century Kwakwaka'wakw communities, she moved to British Columbia. While studying at the University of British Columbia, she started learning Kwakwala from Katherine Ferry Adams, who introduced her to the language and culture and adopted her into her family in 1978.
From 1976 to 1978 she attended several potlatches in the area of Alert Bay (BC). There, she came in contact with Kwakwakka’wakw communities, which would lead her to write and defend her doctoral dissertation about the Kwakwakka’wakw hamaca (Man-Eater) ritual in 1981.
In the 1970s, Dr. Reid received funding from the Urgent Ethnology Program of the Museum of Man in Ottawa to record languages and customs to prevent their loss. As part of this project, Dr. Reid came in contact with Agnes Alfred (or Axuw or Axuwaw) with whom she travelled to different Kwakwakka’wakw communities. As part of these visits, she met Agnes’ granddaughter, Daisy Sewid-Smith.
Between 1979 and 1980, and in 1983 and 1985 Sewid-Smith and Reid recorded and translated Agnes’ memoirs. From then until the late 1990s, they put a hold in their project for personal and work-related reasons. In the late 1990s, they resumed their work, which lead to the publication of Paddling to Where I Stand in 2004.
Between 1979 and 1983, Dr. Reid worked at the Department of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. There, she lectured in the areas of Anthropology, Ethnography, and First Nations studies. She also participated in several art-related projects in the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s, while consulting projects for the Ministry of Indian and Northern Affairs and for the Native Investment Trade Association.
From 2008 to 2012, Dr. Reid was the Director of Content and Research, and Curator at the Bill Reid Gallery. Then, she became the Honorary Chair of the Bill Reid Foundation.
Name of creator
Daisy May Sewid-Smith (née Sewid) was born in Alert Bay, BC, on November 28, 1938, daughter of Chief James Sewid and Flora Violet Alfred, and granddaughter of Agnes Alfred. After graduating school, she took a secretarial course at Vancouver College and worked for the Indian Affairs Branch in Alert Bay. During her time in Alert Bay, she published several articles and books about the prosecution of potlatches and the confiscation and return of artifacts by the Canadian government.
Daisy Sewid-Smith is one of the leading linguistic experts in the Kwakwakka’wakw community, teaching the language and developing a method to transcribe it. She wrote a grammar book for the Kwak’wala language. She also translated some of Franz Boas’ texts in the context of land claim issues and contributed to the UN convention on the rights of the child. Sewid-Smith works in the Faculty of Education at the University of Victoria and was a member of the Advisory Council for the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society.
In the late 1970s, her grandmother, Agnes Alfred, introduced her to Martine J. de Widerspach-Thor (later Martine J. Reid) with whom she recorded and translated her grandmother’s memoirs between 1979 and 1985. From then until the late 1990s, they put a hold in their project for personal and work-related reasons. In the late 1990s, they resumed their work, which lead to the publication of the book Paddling to Where I Stand in 2004.
Name of creator
Agnes Alfred (née Agnes Bertha Joe and also known as Axu, Axuw or Axuwaw) was a noble Qwiqwasutinuxw woman from the Kwakwakawakw Nation. She was known in her community as one of the last great storytellers in the classic oral tradition.
Materials in the collection were created by Martine J. Reid and/or Daisy Sewid-Smith and gathered by Martine J. Reid. On June 6, 2018, Martine J. Reid donated the collection to the Audrey and Harry Hawthorn Library.
Scope and content
Collection illustrates the gathering of information and writing of the book “Paddling to Where I Stand : Agnes Alfred, Qwiqwasutinuxw Noblewoman.” Includes interviews to Agnes Alfred conducted by Martine J. Reid and Daisy Sewid-Smith between 1979 and 1985. Interviews are documented as audio and video recordings and their written transcriptions, and other materials gathered by Martine J. Reid and Daisy Sewid-Smith for the edition and publication of the book. Collection also contains the manuscripts and draft for the book; correspondence between Martine J. Reid, Daisy Sewid-Smith and other people; eulogies and funeral pamphlets; Agnes Alfred’s family information; historical notes; and miscellanea. Collection includes photographic materials with photographs included in the book and additional photographs gathered by Martine J. Reid and Daisy Sewid-Smith during their research, and portraits of Agnes Alfred’s parents.
Immediate source of acquisition
Collection came into the archives in a banker's box with no clear arrangement. Collection was rehoused and later arranged following the original order and by function and content of the files.
Language of material
Script of material
Language and script note
Includes audio and video interviews in Kwakwala language
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Described by Clara Gimenez-Delgado September 2019