Welcome to Archive/Counterarchive


Archive/Counter-Archive (A/CA): Activating Canada's Moving Image Heritage is a seven-year research-creation project focusing on works by Indigenous Peoples (First Nations, Métis, Inuit), Black communities and People of Colour, women, LGBT2Q+ and immigrant communities.

Led by Janine Marchessault and funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Partnership Grant, the partnership is composed of four universities (York, Toronto Metropolitan, Queen's, and Concordia), numerous communities, memory institutions, and policy advocates.

Our research is committed to finding solutions for safekeeping Canada's audiovisual heritage. We seek to activate and remediate audiovisual heritage that is most vulnerable to disappearance and inaccessibility, fostering a community and network dedicated to creating best practices and cultural policies.

The A/CA community includes over 60 participants, each with significantly diverse collections, access to technical resources, and expert archival knowledge. 

What is a Counter-Archive?

For the purposes of this project, we have defined counter-archives as political, ingenious, resistant, and community-based.

They are embodied differently and have explicit intention to historicize differently, to disrupt conventional national narratives, and to write difference into public accounts. They seek to counter the hegemony of traditional archival institutions that have normally neglected or marginalized women, Indigenous, Inuit and Métis Peoples, the LGBT2Q+ community, and immigrant communities.


Enhance access of Canada’s citizens and Indigenous, Inuit, and Métis Peoples to their own audiovisual cultural heritage.

Innovate next-generation digital interfaces to facilitate collaborative stewardship for documentary heritage.

Advocate for an Audiovisual Action Plan that speaks to the various needs of community collections, shaped by Indigenous protocols around cultural property, sovereignty, and repatriation.


Create practice-based knowledge through case studies tied to specific problems around audiovisual preservation and driven by community interests. 

Train and mentor the next generation to advance Canadian moving image heritage preservation, accessibility, and presentation.

Build a sustainable open access media rich Book Series entitled Counter-Archives: Media and Material Practices available both in print and online as a media rich platform.                          

Foster an audiovisual archive network in Canada that will connect and mobilize smaller archival organizations, researchers, and policy-makers interested in determining the special needs of audiovisual preservation across different communities and contexts.

Land Acknowledgment

Archive/Counter-Archive is hosted at York University in Toronto, Canada. We recognize that many Indigenous nations have longstanding relationships with the territories upon which York University campuses are located that precede the establishment of York University. York University acknowledges its presence on the traditional territory of many Indigenous Nations. The area known as Tkaronto has been care taken by the Anishinabek Nation, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Huron-Wendat, and the Métis. It is now home to many Indigenous Peoples. We acknowledge the current treaty holders, the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. This territory is subject of the Dish with One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, an agreement to peaceably share and care for the Great Lakes region.

A/CA Team