Principles and Practices
Anti-Racist and Decolonial
The YEG PVA centers anti-racism in its work and design. All aspects of the archive’s design and implementation consider the ways that colonization, racism, and white supremacy are embedded in technology and research methodologies, as well as the wider society in which we live and work.
We recognize and honour the land we live and work on, stolen by settler colonialism, as well as its complex histories. Police institutions were founded to enforce the oppression of bodies of colour; in the land we call “Alberta”, the first police force was the Northwest Mounted Police (the predecessors to the RCMP), which was founded by John A Macdonald to secure settler-colonial sovereignty and dominance. This legacy carries on today, and we work to undermine it in policing, institutions, and social structures.
Being ‘neutral’ or ‘colour-blind’ contributes to racial oppression - the archive acknowledges race as a social construct with real-world consequences.
“Nothing about us without us”; the archive makes every effort to meaningfully engage with the communities whose stories are shared here, and their opinions/desires carry serious weight.
The goal of the archive is to support advocacy efforts by individuals and groups to end police violence in our community. We do not ‘dump’ work back on marginalized populations, and opportunities created to share stories of violence should respect the time and capacity of peoples marginalized by police violence.
- The Archive aims to support healing for victim-survivors and their families, not further traumatization and harm. This means that:
- The Archive seeks ongoing and meaningful consultation with victim-survivors on our practices and approach.
- Whenever possible, the desires of victim-survivors are prioritized in materials that concern them, such as sharing/not sharing graphic materials or names of victim-survivors
- When victim-survivors raise concerns or suggestions for the Archive, we listen, respond, and incorporate this feedback as best we can.
- Victim-survivors of sexual violence are never named in the archive unless they explicitly state a desire to be named. Confidentiality is of utmost concern.
- The Archive seeks to support victim-survivors in sharing their experiences in ways that they find healing and empowering.
- The Archive does not seek to define what constitutes ‘survivorship’, and recognizes that people can be both survivors or victims and perpetrators of violence in different situations. The Archive promotes accountability for harm done to others and justice for victim-survivors, recognizing that these are not mutually exclusive practices.
- The design and implementation of the Archive are informed by the experiences of trauma it is based in.
- The Archive is a tool for activism against police violence, not a site for the fetishization of violence against black and brown bodies. It creates a record of incidents of violence without creating a spectacle of violence or promoting a voyeuristic attitude towards violence.
- The experience of archiving police violence can also be a traumatic one. The Archive project prioritizes the mental health of contributors and volunteers, and encourages the maintenance of boundaries and a culture of support that minimizes traumatic impacts.
- We recognize that healing from trauma is not a linear process, and support survivors in sharing their stories at their own pace, which may include retracting information that has been shared.
- The work of the Archive is based on the needs and experiences of the diverse communities it impacts. Numerous, accessible, and varied opportunities exist for community members to participate in the project.
- The Archive team recognizes that ‘the community’ is not monolithic. We attempt to engage in and understand debates about different ways to approach critical issues, and we find solutions that offer the best possible compromise among competing priorities.
- With the recognition that digital archiving practices privilege some forms of knowledge over others, the Archive embraces multiplicity. The Archive works to welcome and accommodate alternative forms of knowledge and storytelling.
- As a project embedded in an organization founded on feminist values, the Archive works to deconstruct patriarchy at every turn and recognizes the implicit ways that patriarchy influences police violence. At the same time, we recognize that feminism has often privileged whiteness. Our feminism is intersectional and recognizes that queer and transgender people of colour face disproportionate levels of violence.
- In all decisions, the Archive’s team centers questions of equity and intersectionality, considering how the design, implementation, and presentation of the Archive champions the rights of marginalized members of our communities.
- No one person is ‘in charge’ of the archive; the project is a collaboration between project team members, community groups, and individuals. Every community voice that has a stake in the archive has a right to be heard.
- The Archive recognizes that it can, and will, make mistakes, and welcomes ‘calling-in’ from the community to help maintain accountability. When we make mistakes, we do our utmost to acknowledge and learn from them. When we make mistakes, we work to repair relationships and right wrongs in a spirit of humility and growth.
- The Archive is transparent about sources of funding, relationships with institutions, and other interplays of power that could influence independence and accountability. The drive to collaboration notwithstanding, the archive resists attempts to be co-opted by institutions with a stake in de-radicalizing our goals.
- The information in the Archive belongs to the community, and the Archive takes stewardship of that knowledge seriously. Opportunities for collaboration and/or partnership are considered in light of the community ownership of the Archive’s contents.
- The Archive acknowledges the vast amount of activism, organizing, and effort that has come in this work long before us. We did not invent this fight or this format, and we give credit where credit is due when we benefit from the work and/or ideas of others.
- The fight for a future free from police violence will not be resolved overnight. The Archive centers sustainability of information and access to ensure that these resources are available in the long-term.
- Our Principles inform all the decisions of the Archive team now and in the future.
- Many of the stories shared in the Archive may be deeply personal, and private information may be included in data sources we gather or receive. The Archive prioritizes the privacy of those whose stories are shared in the archive.
- Technology is not neutral, and biases exist in all collections of data. The Archive is transparent and reflexive about its methodology, and the ways that our presentation of data may be biased or influenced by the choices we make and the data we include. When we identify biases in our project, we work to correct them and acknowledge the harms they may have perpetrated.
- Although the journey to supportive communities free of police violence is a long one, the Archive is grounded in the belief that it is a possible and necessary future. We aspire to a better future and work to make it happen.
- Ending police violence is only one element of the move to a more just society. The Archive supports efforts to create safe and healthy communities where a variety of services meet the needs of community members in ethical ways.