Welcome to Archive/Counterarchive

Educational Guides

Learn more about the pedagogical guides that we are creating on archives and counter-archives.

About Our Educational Guides Series

One of the central goals of Archive/Counter-Archive is to increase public engagement with our partner organizations and their collections through an “activation” of archival materials that foregrounds the pressing need to rethink what archives can/might do in the 21st century. In order to achieve this goal, we have developed a series of Educational Guides designed to accompany film and video from A/CA’s Case Studies and facilitate their integration into K-12 and postsecondary classrooms.

The guides are easily adaptable to different grades and subjects, and educators are encouraged to use these guides as a starting point to create their own lesson plans. Each guide contains important additional context for the materials featured, including information on key participants, essays and reflections, and synopses of selected works for classroom discussion. The guides also include critical discussion questions oriented toward a range of topics to encourage students and teachers to engage critically with A/CA’s archival materials by making connections between their context of creation and contemporary issues and experiences.

VUCAVU Partnership

A/CA has partnered with the Canadian film streaming and distribution platform VUCAVU to host copies of each of our Educational Guides and provide easy access to their corresponding film programs. Each of these programs are available affordable priced and can be rented in seven-day increments for $10 CAD. You can view all of the currently available guides and programs by visiting https://vucavu.com/en/a-ca/education-guides.


A text logo image that says VUCAVU in bold, all caps, black font.

Margaret Perry / Nova Scotia Archives Guide Series

Margaret Perry is one of Canada’s most important, most prolific, yet least-known woman filmmakers and early film bureaucrats. Perry’s films are complex artifacts that merit careful and critical reflection. During her 24 years at the helm of the Nova Scotia Film Bureau, Perry oversaw the production and direction of over 50 films. Yet, because not much is known about her work as a filmmaker, Perry’s films have been dismissed, often without being seen, on charges of their “anti-modern” depictions of Nova Scotia. And yet, Perry’s films are significant for their creative depictions of a place and time about which limited film records remain and as a cinematic testament to the career of a trail-blazing and visionary filmmaker.

The five downloadable guides that comprise this series reintroduce and critically reframe Margaret Perry and the contribution of her films. They include important contextual information about Perry and her films, a list of films suggested for classroom viewing, film synopses, and discussion questions oriented toward a range of thematic areas. They also suggest supplementary films and resources to complement the gaps present in Perry’s work.


A rectangular promotional image with two book covers placed side by side. The first features a old black and white photograph of a woman operating an old film camera. The second cover features a film still from the 80s of an old CRT television set that has a purple glow to it.

Toronto Living with AIDS / Vtape Guide

Toronto Living With AIDS (TLWA) was a 1990-91 public access cable TV program that provided information about HIV/AIDS directly to affected communities. A series of 30-minute videos were created by artists, activists, and community organizations responding to the AIDS crisis. They drew on ideas and strategies from video and performance art, but also employed innovative methods of communication to meet their community-oriented goals. TLWA was coordinated by Michael Balser and John Greyson in collaboration with numerous artists and community organizations, and was screened on cable access television.

This educational guide includes important contextual information for the series as a whole, including information on key participants, a critical reflection on the social, political, and media contexts, a glossary and suggested further reading. It also suggests a list of five films from the series for classroom viewing, offering film synopses and discussion questions focused on this list.


A rectangular promotional image with a variety of cropped film stills arranged in a row. Each of the film stills features various women looking at each other or directly into the camera.

Canadian LGBT2Q+ Film / CFMDC Guide Series

This guide series is focused on material generated through the "Beyond the Narrative: Preserving and Mobilizing Canadian LGBT2Q+ Films from 1970 - 2000 in the CFMDC Collection" A/CA Case Study. Many queer works in the collection from this period exist solely on celluloid or in outdated video formats. These formats reflect the influx of affordable technology that became available to queer artists— beginning with more economical film equipment, and then to a greater extent, in the 1980s and 1990s, with video technology. The rapid obsolescence of these formats in the early 2000s, however, has made this era of CFMDC’s LGBT2Q+ collection elusive to scholars, programmers, and the public.

These educational guides and their corresponding film programs raise important questions such as: How do these films open up the ways in which the LGBT2Q+ community historicizes themselves in the era of digital technology and retroviral drugs? What do these films reveal about LGBT2Q+ histories that extend beyond the narrative of HIV/AIDS memorialization or queer confessional films? How were women filmmakers in Canada representing LGBT2Q+ identities on-screen during this period? What do these films reveal about LGBT2Q+ resistance?