PBLA – The World Federation of Free Latvians has announced an initiative, to create a digital listing of archival sources in the diaspora (www.pbla.lv „Jaunumi“). The survey’s goal is to work in collaboration with the Latvian Ministry of Culture and the central cultural and archival centres outside Latvia, with a view to documenting the existence, condition and accessibility of historical materials.
Archival and museum awareness has for many years been championed by enthusiastic activists in the community while taking into consideration diverse local resources, whether it be space, finances or availability of volunteers. The evolution and recognition of the need to locate and preserve documentation has varied by regions.
The World Federation membership consists of the leadership of central organizations in Canada, the USA, Europe, Russia, South America/ Caribbean and Australia.
In truth, diaspora archival work did not always get the support that it deserved. Today, however, it seems that there is a sudden surge of interest due to the possible availability of some minor funding. It may also be the realization that neglect will mean losing a part of our documentary heritage. In this age of fake news, political revision of history and cyber warfare in social media, it is more important than ever to save the true record of our past. As they say, „If you do not know where you have been, you will not know where you are going“. This applies, in particular, to the arriving younger generations who are not necessarily well versed in history and are more susceptible to influence from a lack of information, or worse, an overabundance of misinformation, thus damaging the chance for critical thinking.
In Canada, the central organization for the Latvian Community is LNAK or Latvian National Federation in Canada. Its official administrative files, up until 2004, are found in the Archives of Ontario. A number of years ago, we created the Canadian Latvian Archive and Museum or in the Latvian acronym, LNAK-KLAM. In Latvian, KLAM is Kanadas Latviešu Archīvs un Mūzejs.
KLAM strives to identify the existence of documentation, letters, photos or artefacts relating to the contribution made by Latvians and their extended communities to the development of Canada. This includes personal archival materials which travelled with them from the homeland. It should be noted that the first traces of Latvians go back to the 1890s.
Though it is still growing, researchers have found the holdings of KLAM very useful. Times, however, are changing and new opportunities arise on how to deal with our historical record. The pandemic has actually helped us look at the virtual experience. It has emphasized the need and possibilities of digitization. Though original documents are vital and must be preserved, they can nevertheless be easily digitized at home and sent directly to KLAM.
In addition to the PBLA survey, we strongly encourage our Canadian public to inform us directly at LNAK-KLAM if they should have something of archival interest.
We are all an intrinsic part of the history of Canada and Latvia.
President LNAK – Latvian National Federation in Canada
LNAK – firstname.lastname@example.org
KLAM – email@example.com
With special thanks to Ženija Vītols, Aija Kārkliņš, Skaidrīte Tērauds, Ilze Maksiņa, Aivars Vinters, Jānis Ivsiņš, Sibilla Korulis and the Capt. Jānis Korulis archīve.