The Black Memory Collective is a community for Black archivists, memory workers, and researchers who engage with the archives in Canada.
The story behind its creation dates back to 2020, when founder and creative director Melissa J. Nelson graduated from McGill University with a Master of Information Studies. Melissa felt compelled to seek community after witnessing a lack of diversity in her cohort. According to the 2021 census from Statistics Canada, Black people make up less than 1% of the total number of working archivists in Canada.
In 2022, Melissa launched the podcast, Archives & Things, as a way of connecting with Black people who create, work with, and care for Black archives in Canada. Melissa discovered a vibrant and diverse community, but she often found her interviewees were unaware of each other’s work. She felt a deep need to bring people together.
The Black Memory Collective was founded in 2023 to create a network and build a community of practice around Black archiving. The founding members are based in locations across the country. They were brought together by Melissa through her work on Archives & Things. This collective is part of a larger movement to reclaim, recognize, and celebrate Black memory and image Black futurities.