Letter to the editor: Cutting program is short-sighted

Open letter to the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages.

Editor:

Open letter to the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages.

Re:  Elimination of the National Archival Development Program.

I am writing on behalf of the Quesnel Museum and Heritage Commission. We are an advisory committee for the City of Quesnel responsible for oversight of the Quesnel and District Museum and Archives and heritage matters.

We were alarmed to hear of the sudden elimination of the National Archival Development Program on  April 30.

As concerned citizens who volunteer our time to support the operation of a community archives, we believe that the discontinuation of the program is short sighted and will have a negative impact that far outweighs the savings of $1.7 million in Federal spending.

The funding provided to the provincial archives associations is crucial to the professional operation of community museums and archives across the country.

In B.C., the preservation service provides cost effective conservation advice to many institutions, which otherwise could not access a professional conservator.

This provides preservation treatment to individual items, but more importantly, assists these institutions to create an environment which helps preserve entire collections.

The provincial associations provide training to staff and volunteers at these smaller institutions.  Often people working in these community repositories have not had prior archives or library training but they are intelligent and motivated.

For minimal expense they gain valuable knowledge which ensures that collections are arranged and described following a standard format.

As a result, the holdings from institutions of different sizes and organizational structures can be uploaded to a networked database and are accessible to the public online.

Our institution has not, to date, directly accessed funds from the NADP.  We have undertaken a number of video history projects to record the memories and knowledge of elders from diverse cultural groups in our community.

We have digitized the local paper, making more than 100 years of community history accessible online.

We have collected, arranged and described approximately 60 fonds and over 13,000 photographs.

These are made accessible to the public through the British Columbia Archival Union List.

We could not have established our archival program or have been in a position to undertake such projects without the training and support provided by the Archives Association of British Columbia.

Canada’s heritage is preserved in institutions large and small in communities across the country.

We currently display the photographs of C.D. Hoy, a photographer who took remarkable portraits of the First Nations, Chinese and European residents of Quesnel in the early years of the 20th century.

This award–winning exhibition has traveled the country providing visitors with an opportunity to understand the deep roots of multiculturalism in Canada.

Hoy’s photographs are now being used to build cultural and economic bridges with China through an exhibit being developed by the Barkerville Heritage Trust.

At the Quesnel Museum we have created a travelling exhibit of the work of his contemporary, C.S. Wing, whose glass negatives are preserved in our archives.

This show, which delivers a similar message, is now travelling in western Canada.

In anniversary years, museums and archives are called upon to organize special events and create exhibits to educate and to bring the country together in celebration.  The National Archival Development Program through the network of Archival Associations is vital to preserving and making accessible the primary materials of Canadian History, 365 days a year.

We urge you to reverse the decision to eliminate this fundamental program.

Sincerely,

Honey Affleck

Chair, Quesnel Museum and Heritage Commission

 

 

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