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Crystal Shawanda's Wikipedia article just grew a little

3,450 words focused on gender, indigenous communities and art were added to Wikipedia during an all-day communal editing session Wednesday at Algoma University
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Skylee Storm Hogan, Madison Bifano, Joanne Robertson and Krista McCracken were among the participants at an all-day Wikipedia edit-a-thon Wednesday at Algoma University. David Helwig/SooToday

Wikipedia's entry about recording artist Crystal Shawanda got a much-needed update yesterday.

Also on Wednesday, Anishinaabe artists Jaimie Isaac and Roxanne Martin got Wikipedia articles of their own, as did Josephine Mandamin's Mother Earth Water Walk.

In all, about 3,450 words were added to the massive online encyclopedia by a handful of students, staff and faculty at Algoma University during an all-day Wikipedia Edit-a-thon.

"Our goal today was to edit articles relating to gender and women artists, particularly indigenous artists, with a focus on improving that content on Wikipedia," Krista McCracken, Algoma U's archives supervisor, told SooToday.

Organized by Algoma University Archives and Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre, the event was one of eight Art + Feminism communal editing sessions Wednesday in places ranging from Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic to Scotland's 605-year-old University of St. Andrews.

McCracken provided initial training to Sault participants, emphasizing Wikipedia's policies on neutrality, fact verification from reputable published sources, and disclosing conflicts of interest.

More than 50 edits or additions were made to a dozen articles, five of which were new Wikipedia entries.

McCracken worked on the Shawanda entry.

"It really looked like Crystal Shawanda's article hadn't been updated since about 2013 when she won Juno awards for her album that year," she said. "Since that time, she's released two other albums in 2015 and 2017."

"I also included some information about her formative years in Wikwemikong First Nation and in Sault Ste. Marie."

Created in 2001, Wikipedia offers more than 47 million openly editable articles in 300 languages written by unpaid, largely anonymous contributors.

It's considered the most comprehensive reference work ever compiled by humans.

"Less than 10 per cent of editors on Wikipedia are women," says the Art + Feminism editing group.

"The fact is when we don’t tell our stories or participate in the ways our history is preserved, it gets erased. Gaps in the coverage of knowledge about women, gender, feminism, and the arts on one of the most visited websites in the world is a big problem and we need your help to fix it."