My favourite blog to write is the Volunteer Spotlight blog. During Volunteer Spotlight we highlight one volunteer so that you, the reader, can get a sneak peak into all the wonderful volunteers we have at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives. Today we are going to look at the one and only, volunteer extraordinaire, Aleeta Sepass. Aleeta has been volunteering for a few years now. Last week I emailed her a couple questions about her experience at the Archives and below is her responses. I encourage you to take the time to read her answers. Aleeta is one of our younger volunteers currently completely her degree at the University of Fraser Valley and I have no doubt that she will do well in this field or any field of her choosing.
When did you start volunteering at the Chilliwack Archives?
Why did you decide to volunteer for the Chilliwack Museum and Archives?
Why? That is a good question! This answer has a couple of reasons: First, I have an interest in the history of Ts’elxwéyeqw (Chilliwack). Second reason is being able to have an opportunity to volunteer. Let me begin by sharing that I am a xwélmexw (First Nations) woman. I come from the Stó:lō -Skowkale, and St’atl’imx- Xa’xsta (Port Douglas) Nations. So, I have an interest in the nearby history of Ts’elxwéyeqw and enjoy exploring elements such as Stó:lō family histories, oral traditions, Coqualeetza Salish Weavers, and the Skulkayn Heritage Project. To uncover information and to learn more about this history is a great opportunity to gain a better understanding of not only our community but also about myself. The second key reason in my decision to volunteer was being offered an opportunity. I was fortunate to have worked with the Coqualeetza Cultural Education Centre as a student archive support worker. In May or June 2017, we visited the Chilliwack Archives and I expressed to Tristan that I had an interest in learning more about the archives. He shared with me that there was an opportunity for people to volunteer. So, the following fall, I decided to give it a shot. And so far, so good!
What type of work do you perform when you are at the Archive?
Currently, I am involved in two archival projects. The first project being the Chilliwack Progress Project where I perform data entry. To do so, I use the Past Perfect program to identify what collection items needs to be updated. To update, I reference to past Chilliwack Progress newspapers and write a description relating to the photograph. The second project that Tristan has recently introduced me to is the Geocaching Project. So, far I have begun to research some key locations in the Chilliwack area. In the future, I would like to incorporate Stó:lō Knowledge including the Halq’emeylem language to future geocaches.
Do you have a favourite memory at the Chilliwack Archives and Museum?
Recently, a fellow volunteer Ev donated a collection of Sardis Secondary School yearbooks. Knowing that both Anna and I are former Sardis students, Tristan searched for our graduation photographs. He eventually uncovered it and without any help from us, ladies I might add! Of course, to be a bug, Tristan proceeded to read our (cheesy) graduation quotes aloud. This is my favourite memory! Not! Thanks again, Ev. Ha-ha! With all joking aside, I do enjoy most of my volunteer days. It is hard not to uncover a photograph or newspaper without being able to recognize familiar faces from the Stó:lō community.
Is there anything else you would like to mention regarding your work at the Archives?
If you would like to learn more about the history of Ts’elxwéyeqw (Chilliwack) or you are interested in learning about archives. I would like to offer you the suggestion to come to visit! As an undergraduate student, I do appreciate the opportunity to learn, to gain new skills and to receive any advice from both Tristan, and Anna. Kwas’ hoy! (Thank-you).
From a staff perspective, I can say without reservations that Aleeta is an amazing volunteer and we are incredibly lucky that she donates her time and knowledge helping us complete our mandate of protecting and promoting Chilliwack’s history. Should you visit the Archives on a Wednesday afternoon and come across Aleeta, please make sure to give her a huge kwas’ hoy for all the work she does.