Jade Pichette, Volunteer & Community Outreach Coordinator

Jade Pichette, Volunteer and Community Outreach Coordinator, CLGA

by S.S.

Meet Jade Pichette, Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator for the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives (CLGA). Although Pichette’s background in social work might make them an outlier in the archival field, they see this atypical professional experience as an asset. Pichette’s work in nonprofits, and especially their work in anti-oppression advocacy and education, strongly informs their approach to archival work. In pursuit of an organizational mission to serve as a resource and catalyst for progress for LGBTQ+ people, the CLGA works to collect, preserve, and make available materials created by or about the LGBT community. Through their outreach work, Pitchette works to ensure that CLGA’s mandate: to preserve the history of marginalized people – is fulfilled in a way that is equitable and inclusive.

When asked what their ‘average’ day at CLGA looks like, Pitchette’s response resonates with those familiar with community organizing: “I don’t have one.” CLGA’s outreach efforts and volunteer activities bring the community into the archives through diverse and dynamic programming, from leading neighborhood walking tours to curating themed exhibitions.

Pitchette’s work has allowed the CLGA to develop strong partnerships with community organizations, including with the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, which has recently worked with the archives to create timeline of LGBTQ history in education. This material reached the Federation’s 7,000 members across Canada. Going forward, the archives and the Federation plan to collaboratively design workshops to help teachers integrate more LGBTQ history into the elementary level curriculum are underway. This partnership harnesses the strengths of both sides – the Federation has curriculum design expertise; CLGA brings their LGBTQ history expertise – and is focused through Pitchette’s anti-oppression framework, emphasizing an equitable lens that traces history beyond dominant, mainstream narratives.

Without outreach that is “explicitly centered in anti-oppression and anti-racism,” says Pitchette, community archives can be vulnerable to “reproducing only the perspectives of those who work or volunteer,” and in turn representing only those perspectives in collections. By reaching out to non-white and non-cis-gendered communities in acquisition, and by helping update collections policies to demonstrate an explicit interest in records from intersectionally marginalized communities, Pitchette has worked to ensure collections represent a diversity of viewpoints. Aside from collection development work, Pitchette also focuses on the reference interactions patrons’ have with CLGA’s board members, staff, and volunteers on a daily basis. By instituting mandatory diversity and inclusion sessions and a strong volunteer policy, Pitchette aims to foster a welcoming environment at CLGA, and create an organizational culture that values inclusion.

CLGA currently seeks proposals for a consultant to aid in their selection of a new name. Their current name – the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives – can be seen as at best unwelcoming, and at worst exclusionary, of people who don’t identify as specifically “lesbian” or “gay.” CLGA’s stated goal of the upcoming name selection indicates a desire to “better reflect [their] mandate to support the archives of LGBTQ2+ people.” This name change can itself be seen as a form of outreach, aiming to identify the organization to those whose history it seeks to preserve.

Ultimately, Pitchette sees inclusive outreach as imperative to the survival of community archives, as well as one of the major challenges in the archival field. They feel that the profession as a whole needs to come to think of outreach as integral to the work of archives – and as something that is directly connected to funding. New professionals coming through MLIS programs can help push the conversation to the fore of the profession, pushing for recognition of outreach as a necessary component of a functioning archives. Outreach is essential to help people – especially marginalized people – see that their histories are valuable, an essential step towards preserving those stories for the future.



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