Canadian Heritage Committee on Feb. 7th, 2012
A recording is available from Parliament.
On the agenda
- Meg Beckel President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Museum of Nature
- Stuart Murray President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Museum for Human Rights
- Mark O'Neill President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation
- Marie Chapman Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21
- Jean-Marc Blais Vice-President, Exhibitions and Programs, Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation
The Chair Rob Moore
Okay, we'll get started.
Welcome to our witnesses. We apologize that we're getting this meeting started a little late. We had votes, and that's something that none of us are able to avoid once that vote bell starts ringing.
This is a meeting of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. Our study is on the 150th birthday of our country.
We're pleased to have four different witness groups with us. I see some of you have multiple representatives. In light of the fact that our time is compressed, I would ask that you keep your collective remarks for each group to ten minutes. How you divide that time is up to you.
I'm pleased to have the Canadian Museum of Nature, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, and the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 represented here today. Welcome to all of you.
We'll get started right away with your presentations. There will be ten minutes for each presentation and then we'll have a round of questions and answers. I understand there are some powerpoint presentations.
We will start with the Canadian Museum of Nature. The floor is yours.
Meg Beckel President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Museum of Nature
Thank you very much.
My name is Meg Beckel, and I have the honour and privilege of being the president and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Nature.
Today, I was invited here to tell you about the Canadian Museum of Nature's plans for 2017, Canada's 150th anniversary.
It is both an honour and a privilege to take part in the celebrations. Our plans and the run-up to 2017 will focus on our strengths, our mandate and our vision. Arctic 2017 aims to connect Canadians and the world with Canada's Arctic.
To facilitate simultaneous interpretation, this presentation will be made in English, but fact sheets will be available in both French and English.
Before describing our project, I thought I'd provide some background on the museum.
Our vision is to inspire understanding and respect for nature. Our mandate, as described in the act that created us, is to increase throughout Canada and internationally interest in, knowledge of, and appreciation and respect for the natural world by establishing, maintaining, and developing for research and posterity a collection of natural history objects with special but not exclusive reference to Canada, and by demonstrating the knowledge derived from it and the understanding it represents.
Our mission is to be a national museum of international first rank known for inspiring and memorable connections with the natural world through an engaging and impactful program of research collections, exhibitions, and public engagement.
Arctic 2017 will be a project to advance our vision and to celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary. Why Canada's Arctic? It's majestic. It's mysterious. It's extreme. It's intriguing. It's important. And it's our future. Arctic 2017 will be a proposal built on the museum's strengths in Arctic research. Study of the Arctic is a major research pillar at the museum: 60% of our research and collections activity is focused on the Arctic. Several of our researchers were part of the International Polar Year activities. Our researchers are in the field, in the Arctic each season, creating, advancing, and sharing knowledge, and our research scientists collaborate with university and independent research institutes in Canada and around the world.
Arctic 2017 will also build on our strengths in natural history collections. The Arctic collections tell the story of the Arctic: the past, the present, and the future. Our Arctic collections cover plants, animals, fossils, and minerals.
The museum also holds the collections of the Nunavut. We also hold records and artifacts from Canada's first Arctic expedition by museum researchers in 1913. The Arctic 2017 project will also build on our record of successful collaboration. Over the past 20 years the museum has developed and delivered exhibits, public programs, school visit programs, and research in collection strategies with numerous partners, including Students on Ice, as the picture shows.
We've also collaborated with the National Film Board, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada, the Inuit Relations Secretariat, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, ArcticNet, and Université Laval, to name just a few.
The project will also be built on our ability to work with and enlist corporate sponsors, as evidenced by our RBC Blue Water Gallery, the Talisman Energy Fossil Gallery, the Vale Earth Gallery, the Genome Canada travelling exhibition, the NSERC Discovery Centre in our Blue Water Gallery, and the Canadian Wildlife Federation sponsorship of our upcoming whales exhibit.
The project will also be built on our ability to develop national Arctic-themed programs. Arctic Odyssey was a special exhibition at the museum in 1998. “Sila: Clue in to Climate Change”, is a small travelling exhibit currently on the road. Our researchers participated in the annual Students on Ice expeditions to the Arctic and the Antarctic, and our polar perspectives program in 2007 to 2009 was a national educational program linking high school students from across Canada with those in the north, discussing the question, “What does the Arctic mean to you?”
Arctic 2017 will be an inspiring connection with Canada's Arctic. The project will advance each year, starting in 2013, and culminate in the opening of a signature gallery at the Canadian Museum of Nature in 2017.
In 2013 we will launch our multi-year project with a national Arctic film festival. We're in the early discussions currently about a collaboration with the National Arts Centre's Arctic Scene program and the Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada. The festival would provide an ideal platform to launch the museum's Arctic 2017 project. It would also be a wonderful year to celebrate that wonderful expedition in 1913, one hundred years prior.
Then in 2014 we will launch a national digital education program. This will be reaching schools across Canada in collaboration with Students on Ice and the Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada and the Canadian Association of Science Centres.
In 2015 a national and international travelling exhibit on Canada's Arctic will be launched. The intent is to offer the exhibit to museums across Canada and then to Canadian embassies around the world, with special focus on those countries that are members of the Arctic Council. It will be our opportunity to showcase the story of Canada's Arctic.
The travelling exhibit would also provide opportunities to engage youth in each host city in outreach programs designed to inspire the next generation to explore Canada from sea to sea to sea, and the programs would be designed in collaboration with Students on Ice, who are known to be experts in engaging youth.
In 2016 the Canadian Museum of Nature's Arctic exploration and discovery program will be launched. This will be an ongoing and intensified presence in Canada's Arctic research centres in addition to the polar continental shelf program in Resolute Bay and also the Canadian High Arctic research station in Cambridge Bay, which is slated to open in either 2016 or 2017. The museum's two research centres of excellence would provide a platform for enhanced fundraising opportunities for the museum, which would fund our research programs.
Arctic plants and Arctic animals would be the two areas of focus for our increased research activity in the north, involving the recruitment of research scientists and post-doctoral students and the digitization of our Arctic plant and animal collections for the benefit of science, education, and posterity.
In 2017 the official opening will take place of a permanent gallery on Canada's Arctic at the Canadian Museum of Nature to celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary, featuring a ceremonial space in Ottawa that would provide a unique backdrop for Arctic-related conversations and celebrations. The gallery would provide a 21st-century immersive experience, including interactive displays, digital media, an igloo web portal for live links with Arctic expeditions, scientists, and Students on Ice.
The gallery would also provide opportunities to showcase Parks Canada's eight northern parks by featuring the live webcam feeds located in Canada's parks.
Also, the gallery opening would launch a year-long program of events on-site, online, and across Canada, celebrating Canada's Arctic and Canada's 150th anniversary.
Canada's Arctic could be a theme that all of Canada could rally around. We are, after all, the true north, strong and free. Canada's Arctic 2017 will be a celebration of Canada from sea to sea to sea. It could ensure Canada's north has appropriate recognition in the nation's capital through a permanent gallery at the national natural history museum. It could provide a unique national and international project that could inspire, connect, and educate Canadians and the world on Canada's Arctic. It could build on Canada's chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2013 and 2014. It could provide opportunities and unique backdrops for key Canadian government officials, partners, and others as they progress with northern strategies and plans. And it could provide a theme for celebrations in communities, schools, universities, colleges, and libraries across Canada.
The Arctic is mysterious, majestic, and extreme, and therefore it inspires both awe and wonder. What an enticing and intriguing theme for a 150th anniversary celebration.
Thank you for the opportunity to share our plans and for your attention.
The Chair Rob Moore
Thank you for your very interesting presentation. It certainly makes us all probably want to take a visit to the museum and to the Arctic.
Next we have Stuart Murray, president and chief executive officer, and Angela Casey, director communications and external relations, from the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Welcome. The floor is yours.
Stuart Murray President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Thank you very much.
Members of Parliament, I am honoured to be here today to talk with you about ideas and inspiration for the 150th anniversary celebration of our great nation.
I thank you for this invitation. I am pleased to have the opportunity to discuss this important moment in the history of our country with you.
Anniversaries are an important part of how society makes its collective progress and defines its goals for the future. I remember back to 1967, when Canada was celebrating its 100th anniversary. One of my strongest memories from that time was Bobby Gimby's iconic song, Canada.
The French version is entitled Une chanson du centenaire.
That song embodied the pride and the sense of accomplishment Canadians were feeling at that time. It became an anthem for our 100th anniversary and was very iconic.
Now on the journey towards Canada's 150th anniversary, we have the opportunity to create new memories that Canadians will remember for generations. Canadians are united by core values. They share history and a sense of common purpose. We cherish our shared history. Our government will join Canadians in celebrating our heritage, in promoting our values, and in standing for what's right on the world stage.
I've had the opportunity to be involved with other large-scale celebrations like this in the past. Those experiences give me hope for what this celebration could be and could mean to Canadians.
As Canadians we aren't really known for patting ourselves on the back, but I believe that these milestones provide us with an opportunity to celebrate the diversity that makes Canada unique, strong, and successful. This is Canada's time.
In 1999 I had the privilege of serving as chair of the organizing committee for the world junior hockey championship, which was held in Manitoba. If you have been to a world juniors game or have ever watched one on television, you're well aware of the passion and excitement that accompany this tournament. In fact, just this past year in Edmonton and Calgary, although we didn't end up with the hockey result we wanted, we couldn't have been prouder of the way our Alberta family represented Canada in the process.
In Manitoba, many of the games were held outside of the capital city in smaller rural markets like Portage la Prairie, Selkirk, Brandon, and Morden. Every single one of those games was packed to the rafters with people and emotion. They were able to share in this experience directly as a community. One of the points we must carefully consider is how to showcase and celebrate our vast geography, rather than having geography become a barrier to participation.
Not only did the experience with the world junior hockey championship solidify for me that hockey is without a doubt Canada's game, it revealed to me the values that make Canada a great nation: hard work, perseverance, dedication, teamwork, and integrity.
Hockey has a way of bringing out the best in Canadians, of bringing the nation together, to rally behind a cause. Our 150th anniversary celebrations present the opportunity for people to coalesce in a similar way.
I just have to say on a small note, Mr. Chairman, that it would be quite exciting if Winnipeg's new NHL franchise, the Jets, were playing the Nordiques de Québec in a winter classic of the Stanley Cup in 2017.
The 2010 Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Games also serve as an example of the ways in which large-scale celebrations can lead to a greater sense of pride and national character. John Furlong, the Vancouver Olympics Committee CEO, said the Olympics were Canada's games in Vancouver. During the closing ceremonies, he commented that “Canadians tonight are stronger, more united, more in love with our country and more connected with each other than ever before.”
People came from around the world to participate in the events in Vancouver and Whistler, and the atmosphere was absolutely electric. The sporting events, along with the celebrations of music, dance, and theatre in Manitoba House, where the Canadian Museum for Human Rights was featured as part of Canada Place, made the experience unforgettable for visitors.
The respect of the four nations that hosted the games created an even greater sense of togetherness and connectedness, honouring the place and people that graciously welcomed the world.
What really stuck out for me was the awakening of a national spirit, a sense of national pride in the hearts of Canadians. Watching the gold medal hockey game outdoors on the big screens at Canada Place with thousands of people was a once-in-a-lifetime experience I don't think many will forget.
This was a feeling of pride, not only for Canadians who were there, but also for people well beyond Vancouver. It was evident in all corners of the country. The 160 Olympic torch run that passed through every province and territory in Canada represented this inclusivity and togetherness that we had all hoped that the Vancouver Olympics would mean for Canada. Well-planned, well-executed celebrations have the capability to fundamentally change the way people see themselves, their country, and their place in it.
While today's headlines focus on Her Majesty's diamond jubilee, in 2010 during the royal visit to Canada the Canadian Museum for Human Rights had the incredible honour of receiving a cornerstone from Her Majesty the Queen. The stone, selected specifically for the museum, was from Runnymede, site of the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215. The Magna Carta, or the great charter, is often touted as a precursor to modern constitutions and charter rights and liberties. Tens of thousands of people attended the celebration at the Forks in Winnipeg, and Canadian and international media shared the moment with viewers across the country and around the world.
Queen Elizabeth II's gift was a very important gesture, not only because it speaks to the long and storied history of Canada, but because it also speaks to the long and storied history of human rights, a history that continues to unfold every day in all parts of Canada and around the world. This represents Canada's human rights voice in the world.
And that brings me to my vision for the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017. As Canadians, we take pride in our history and look forward to our future as the true north strong and free. From our earliest days, we have always come together to advance our common purpose, all of us ready to do our part to move Canada forward, using our diversity as strength that makes Canada's social fabric stronger.
Our human rights history is a critical part of our history as a nation: one cannot be recounted without the other. I see the 150th anniversary celebration as an opportunity to honour our history, to look at where we started as a nation and look at where we find ourselves today. Our human rights history is our common history. It is the foundation of our identity as Canadians.
We have many stories to tell--some well known, some less familiar--and these stories can unite us as a country. Like the passing of the torch I mentioned earlier, the 150th anniversary celebrations present an opportunity to strengthen the fabric of our nation and serve as a positive catalyst for growth for generations to come. But what if, instead of a torch, we passed on the stories of our nation, the stories of perseverance, of struggle, of community, of triumph?
February is black history month in Canada. I'd like to recount the story of Viola Desmond, one of Canada's human rights heroes. In 1946 Viola Desmond, a black Canadian from Nova Scotia, travelled to Glasgow, Nova Scotia, on business. Because of car trouble, she had a few hours to spare, so she decided to take in a movie. Viola purchased a ticket and made her way into the theatre, unaware that racial segregation laws prohibited her from sitting in a seat on the main floor with white people. She was supposed to sit in the balcony reserved for black people.
When Viola refused to move from her seat on the main floor, the police were called and she was dragged out, put in jail, and fined $20 for breaking provincial laws. She was also charged with defrauding the government, as the ticket to the main floor was more expensive than that of the balcony seat. Following the incident, Viola began to speak out about racial segregation, and the public became galvanized around the cause. Finally, in 1954 Nova Scotia repealed its segregation laws. It wasn't until decades later, in 2010, long after her death, that Viola Desmond was granted a pardon, cleared of all charges against her, and provided an apology.
It was just announced a few days ago that a stamp honouring this human rights hero will be distributed through Canada Post. This story reflects the values that we cherish as Canadians: diversity, freedom, justice, perseverance, collective action, and learning from our mistakes. Think of this as another of Canada's national resources: our stories.
Our human rights history is not blemish-free. Trail-blazing is never without its misgivings or mistakes. For example, we should recognize that even these 150th celebrations will not be viewed in the same way by all people. For many aboriginal communities, this is not necessarily an event that warrants celebration. But by looking honestly and openly at our past, by engaging in a diversity of voices and perspectives and by celebrating what has been accomplished to overcome these mistakes, we will serve to make our nation more united, more proud, and more just.
We can use this anniversary to continue on our journey of reconciliation. To tell these stories, the museum could develop dynamic, bilingual, online exhibits, travelling exhibits, and activities at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. The stories chosen for the exhibits would be wide-ranging and would aim to engage many groups and communities, including aboriginal communities, francophones, anglophones, allophones, persons with disabilities, labour groups, and ethnocultural communities, to name a few.
State-of-the-art technology as well as art, theatre, and artifacts would make the travelling exhibits appeal to a large audience. Interactivity will provide Canadians with the opportunity to learn more about their neighbours and about themselves, strengthening the bonds of citizenship between us.
We could partner with the other national museums we're sharing with today to ensure that Canada's newest national museum, the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, for example, has immigration experiences of new immigrants that are well connected to human rights.
These exhibits could also be used long after the 150th celebrations are over and travel to other museums of conscience globally, demonstrating to the world the progress being made in Canada on human rights.
A social media campaign could accompany these exhibits. It would engage a younger audience and encourage them to learn more about their history and to get involved in writing new chapters. Through YouTube we can challenge Canadians to tell their own stories and the stories of their communities--their Canada.
While the vision for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights emanated from the vision of a private citizen, the late Israel Asper, it evolved into a partnership of the Government of Canada, the Province of Manitoba, the City of Winnipeg, the Forks North Portage Partnership, and the Friends of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. People from across Canada and around the world adopted this vision of the museum as their own, and thousands of individual donors, labour organizations, and the private sector contributed generously to the shared vision of what our project means and can accomplish for this country and the world.
Partnerships between the federal, provincial, and municipal levels of government and the private sector are opportunities that must be considered in the development of plans on the journey to the 150th anniversary of Confederation.
Many successful Canadian companies have stories to tell in the context of the development of our nation. They should be invited as active partners to both have their stories told and to invest financially in community, sporting, arts, and cultural events.
On this journey toward marking the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017, I invite all Canadians to imagine ways to build a better society, a fairer society. I then challenge them to take action to make that society a reality.
I believe that to achieve our vision, we must work together, learn from our past to reinforce innovation, and encourage philanthropy and volunteerism. We must build on our proud history toward a brighter future.
I thank you for the privilege of speaking to you.
Let us work together to make this great year in Canadian history unforgettable.
Each of us can answer the call to service in our own way and together can continue this bold experiment we call Canada.
Thank you very much.
The Chair Rob Moore
Thank you for your presentation.
We will move to the Canadian Museum of Civilization: Mark O'Neill, president and chief executive officer; Jean-Marc Blais, vice-president; and Chantal Schryer, vice-president, public affairs and publishing. The floor is yours.
Mark O'Neill President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Members of the committee, good morning.
I am pleased to be able to meet with you today to discuss the role of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation in the commemorations leading up to Canada's 150th birthday.
The corporation comprises two museums of natural history: the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the Canadian War Museum. These two institutions preserve and share the heritage of Canada. They contribute to the promotion and reinforcement of the Canadian identity.
In 2011 the two museums combined welcomed more than 1.7 million visitors. As well, travelling exhibitions were presented in 14 Canadian cities, attracting over 300,000 visitors. Additionally, the websites of the two museums attracted another 2.4 million visitors.
Before speaking to you about our ideas and projects for “Canada 150”, I would like to talk a bit about the ways in which our two museums have commemorated important events in the past, and how we will continue to do so from now until 2017.
Each year, our museums mark important Canadian anniversaries in various ways, including exhibitions, public programming, performances, lectures and in other ways. Here are some important events we have highlighted over the last few years.
In partnership with our colleagues at the Canadian Museum of Nature, we are currently presenting an exhibition documenting the first Canadian scientific expedition to the far north. This expedition, which my colleague made reference to, took place from 1913 to 1916, and was a critically significant but relatively unknown event in the history of our country. The exhibition, entitled Expedition: Arctic, presents both the victories and the defeats of this adventure, demonstrating how it brought the far north and its people to the public eye. This historic expedition redrew the Arctic map and accumulated a wealth of knowledge on the environment and culture of the far north.
In 2007 the Canadian War Museum presented Afghanistan: A Glimpse of War. This groundbreaking exhibition examined Canada's role in the Afghan war at the time it was occurring, looking both at the history of our contribution to the war on terror and at the reconstruction of a country torn apart by many years of conflict. Each year, in November, the War Museum highlights the importance of Remembrance Day, and has become a much-visited venue for this solemn occasion.
In 2004 the Canadian Museum of Civilization participated in commemorations and anniversaries by presenting a major exhibition on life in New France to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first permanent European settlement in North America. The following year, the exhibition Acres of Dreams was produced to commemorate the centenaries of the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
My colleague has mentioned the Vancouver Olympics. In 2010 our museum presented with great success an exhibition at Richmond City Hall entitled Lace Up , which tells a story both ancient and contemporary of one of the oldest and most popular recreational sporting activities in the country: skating. This exhibition was visited by thousands during a very short time period.
This past October we hosted the government's launch of Women's History Month at the Canadian War Museum. As well, this past week we hosted the government's launch of Black History Month. Mr. Benskin, you and I met there that evening.
These are just a few examples of the types of commemorations we are able to organize to highlight important dates, while also raising awareness of our rich history.
Leading up to 2017, we are preparing and planning exhibitions that will increasingly focus on the exploration of Canadian history in its personal, national, and international dimensions. Exhibition programming will be anchored on major commemorative anniversaries and will favour projects that have national outreach components and that are developed in partnership with museums and cultural organizations across the country.
In the summer of this year, we will have two major exhibitions, one to commemorate the Queen's diamond jubilee, at the Museum of Civilization, and one for the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, at the War Museum. In subsequent years, an exhibition at the War Museum will feature the battles of World War I, and another at the Museum of Civilization will present the events that led to Confederation and the making of our country.
Several of these exhibitions are being created in partnership with other agencies and will travel across the country after their initial showing at the Museum of Civilization and the War Museum. All of them, along with several public programs, will be important steps on the road to 2017.
Last October, the corporation described projects commemorating the war of 1812 and World War I to the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs.
Today, we will be talking about our plans to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation, an event that will be marked in large part at the Museum of Civilization. 2017 will be an exceptional year at the Museum of Civilization, Canada's national museum of human history.
The museum is also an important cultural destination for all Canadians, with its Children's Museum, the IMAX theatre, its numerous cultural presentations and its exceptional location in the heart of the National Capital Region.
The museum is, in effect, an ideal venue to commemorate Canada's 150 years. And, for this important occasion, we will pull out all the stops.
The Museum of Civilization will offer events, exhibitions, and activities that will engage Canadians not only in the national capital, but also across the country. The road to 2017 presents a unique opportunity for museums of national history to lead discussions with Canadians on the historical events that influenced who we are as Canadians and how our country has evolved over time.
We want to talk with Canadians about what are the most important historical events, eras, movements, changes, and personalities that have shaped our country and that ought to be presented in a national history museum, such as the Museum of Civilization, so we can reflect back on these in our programming moving forward. That is why we are launching a consultation with Canadians that will take us to six Canadian cities and that will also engage Canadians via social media between the months of April and June.
Canadians will help us sketch our plans and projects. They will tell us how best we can engage with them over the coming years in what are, after all, their national museums.
Presenting the history of Canada in an engaging way is what we do best. We are committed to making the museum a must-see destination in 2017.
As a knowledge-based institution, the museum seeks to expand understanding of the identity, history and culture of Canada—knowledge that it seeks to disseminate to the greatest number of people by a wide range of methods. This, to us, is an important trust.
In the same way, our approach for 2017 will be varied and multipronged. A special working group has been created to plan our commemorations, and we anticipate developing a more precise planning document by this fall. Having said that, we can already share some of our ideas with you.
The museum will create a major national history exhibition focusing on themes that reflect on 150 years of being Canadian. This exhibition will be an opportunity to reflect on who we are as Canadians, how we came to be, and what makes the Canadian experience so unique for the world. The exhibition will be supported by travelling components to ensure a national reach, and also by strong public programs such as lecture series, virtual activities, publications, and the enhancement of artifacts in our national collection that help us to tell the Canadian story.
I would also like to draw your attention to an important and ongoing aspect of the museum's work, namely, the collection and preservation of the material and intangible history of our collective heritage. We continue to enrich our collection of historical and contemporary artifacts through donations and acquisitions, through field work and through transfers from other institutions. In the years to come, the museum will showcase these new acquisitions, and the story they tell, for the benefit of all Canadians, wherever they live.
To give you an example, today we have brought with us a gold pocket watch with an 18-karat gold case, presented to Sir John A. Macdonald by the Montreal Watch Case Corporation, at Christmas in 1890. The dedication refers to the first prime minister as “the Father of the national policy” and the Montreal Watch Case Corporation as “one of its industries”. The national policy, among other things, created a system of tariffs to foster Canadian manufacturing.
To remain one of the most reliable and accessible sources of Canadian historical information and artifacts, which is our goal, the museum requires ongoing support and partnerships in order to meet its objectives. The museums belong to all Canadians and therefore should be as accessible as possible to all Canadians. In this context, we intend to create and nurture key lasting partnerships, not only with other museums but also with cultural institutions, government departments and agencies, broadcasters, and other content providers. By building such a network, our goal is to leverage the strengths of each of those partners, to invite Canadians to learn about their country, to appreciate the richness of their history, and to discuss with each other what it means to be Canadian in 2017.
Our plans are being drafted as we speak. The Museum of Civilization has the clear objective to ensure that the 150th anniversary of Canada will provide an opportunity for Canadians to reflect on 150 years of being Canadian.
The history of the museum is as old as our country, and the historical expertise of our staff is unique. Our experience clearly shows that Canadians expect the best of us, as they should, in presenting our history in a unique and engaging way.
We have learned to plan and stage events and exhibitions that complement each other and enable Canadians to appreciate their history in new and different ways. We have also learned that developing strong partnerships with both the public and private sectors is essential to accomplishing our goals.
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, we are very enthusiastic about the prospect of commemorating Canada's 150 years. We have developed a diversified approach that allows us to work on multiple projects at the same time. Our aim is not just to offer 12 months of activities at the museum itself, but also in every region of the country.
The theme 150 years of being Canadian is a theme that will resonate across the country, and our hope is for all Canadians to learn, participate, and celebrate together.
The Chair Rob Moore
Thank you for your presentation.
Last, but certainly not least, we have Marie Chapman, chief executive officer, from Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. Welcome.
Marie Chapman Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21
Thank you very much.
I would like to start by saying it's a real honour to be here. As old as your museum is, Mark, our museum is one year and three days old today. We are very excited about this. Concurrent with our formation, the government started to talk about work for 2017. So although we're relatively small, with our subject matter and the fact that most of us in here can trace our roots back through immigration and not through our founding nations, we feel that we have a broad reach across the country and we are very excited by this opportunity.
When I first spoke to the team about 2017, at the same time we were talking about our first-ever travelling exhibit going across the country, and it just seemed right to tie them together. So we have, and we've just started the process of planning for our first exhibit, which will be known as Canada: Day 1. It will travel, starting in 2014, across the country. In the next two years we will be collecting the information for that, including oral histories, stories, and research, based on Confederation until the current day as well as people's first impressions and first memories of that day.
I will tell you what it stemmed from--and Stuart and I didn't compare notes or talk about this before. When we were all sitting there on the east coast, watching the Olympic opening ceremonies at about one o'clock in the morning, and John Furlong said that on his first day in Canada, the first words said to him by an immigration officer were “Welcome to Canada; make us better”, there was a collective cheer in the suburbs of Halifax as we all felt that this was exactly what our purpose was. Then, when somehow in that opening ceremony there was a quote from Joe Schlesinger, which was taken from the wall in our little Pier 21 museum at the time, and it had his reminiscences of the day he came here, we knew that was a day that, for so many people, is remembered and passed down from generation to generation and becomes part of family lore about when they first came here.
When Joe Schlesinger came to speak at Pier 21 many years ago in that wonderful Joe Schlesinger voice of his, he talked about coming to Canada as being the neck of an hourglass. I know my colleague Judith back there has seen the hourglass in my office, and I talk about this a lot. Joe Schlesinger talked about people coming from places scattered all over the world, and how for that one moment they have the common experience of coming to Canada, experiencing that first sound, taste, and impression. Some of it's good, as our colleagues have said, and some of it isn't, but it's memorable. It never leaves your family.
Then again, you're scattered throughout the country to start a life somewhere else. But that first moment binds so many people. Whether they came last week by air or they walked across the border--or as Joe Schlesinger said, he necked his way to safety across a river in the Czech Republic with his girlfriend at the time to avoid soldiers, and then when he arrived said that to the immigration officer, who didn't seem to take kindly to that story--people have those memories.
What we want to do with our first travelling exhibit is to go across the country and collect those memories and those reminiscences, and then reflect them back in the exhibit, and continue that along in 2014, 2015, and 2016, to see the exhibit grow and change. Because it's an exhibit of stories and of people's stories, it can be reflected in many platforms.
We have learned from our colleagues--thank you to Mark and to Jean-Marc--about multiple platforms and about really employing them, whether they're our mobile technologies, our website, or our ongoing conversations through that time, so that when the exhibit comes back to the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in 2017, it will look dramatically different from the way it did when it left. It will continue along those conversations.
In our past iteration as a smaller charitable institution, we went across to a few points and had open houses and collected some of those stories and artifacts as we went. It was beyond our wildest dreams. At Liuna Station in Hamilton, in one afternoon in three hours we had over 400 people show up with artifacts, photos, boarding passes, meal cards, and tickets from their ships, as well as stories of walking across the prairies and getting to a home. We knew we were on to something. So when this opportunity arose and we were starting to plan our first travelling exhibit in concert with that 150th celebration, we thought there could not be a better way to mirror back those years and to talk about those roots and what brings us together, and the common parts of that: the fear, the hope, and the unfamiliarity, as well as the small kindnesses and sometimes small cruelties.
As Stuart said--and we might have stolen a few words from one of his annual reports--we will be courageous and we will tell the hard stories too, but they bind us together and they continue to make us grow. I think that's the really important thing about all of us as colleagues: we want to help shape that future and to make people feel very proud to be here.
I can tell you that our logo was designed by a young woman from Tehran named Azam Chadeganipour, who works with us now. When I spoke to Azam about our 150th, she said, “You know, I'm from Tehran, where we're thousands of years old, and I think it's so exciting to be celebrating something as young as Canada”. So I can tell you that for new Canadians there's a different perspective, but a really exciting one. From the snapshot of people in our shop—and we have people from eight different countries represented—I know that right now there's a feeling of that excitement.
I think I would close by echoing Stuart a bit, except that I was actually born in 1967, so I don't remember the song--
Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21
I know: I couldn't resist. But he can take it.
I came back to Ottawa in 1992 for Canada's 125th. My parents lived here at the time and I was working at Mount Allison University. The Queen was on the Hill, I was here with my brother, and we were literally moved up Parliament Hill by the crowd. It just felt very important. It felt like you were part of something bigger. I didn't go to the Olympics, but still, I felt that again. I hope that for a 25-year-old, for a 15-year-old, or for some of us who are older now, there is again an opportunity to have that feeling of being part of something bigger.
One of the things on our sheet talked about legacies. One of the beautiful opportunities of working at a place like the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 is that we have many people who are relatively new to this country. I'll tell you a little story.
Again, I apologize to Judy, because she has heard this before.
We had a young couple from Israel, Danny and Maria Dechtiar, who came to work at Pier 21. It was their first winter in Canada, and if you're from Israel that can be a little shocking. Coming in, they were bundled up to here...even in Halifax. They had taken the bus, and as I was going up in the elevator with them I said to them that they must have found it so awful. I asked them if they had to wait long at the bus stop. They said it was fine. “We love taking the bus here,” they said, “because it's a wonderful thing to do.”
Now, our transit in Halifax is not known to be the best of the best. Maria said to me, “One of the reasons we came here is because when you get on a bus at home, you look around to see if you feel comfortable, and if you don't, you get off at the next stop.” Her best friend didn't and was in one of the buses that was blown up by a bomb. Danny and Maria decided they didn't want their kids on those buses. They just wanted to go somewhere where they could be comfortable. Their first day here, they jumped on a bus just because they could. So that would be part of their story.
I think the legacy is to have youths being able to travel beyond these borders to reflect back. When people travel—when any of you have come from somewhere else when you've travelled—it makes you realize that the things we take for granted are not taken for granted: our human rights. Our basic human rights are not the basic human rights of the whole world. To go away as a young person and to come back...it changes you. It can enforce the great things of this country. It can make you realize that there are things we can learn from other countries. Sometimes it can just make you stand a little taller as a Canadian.
We hear it over and over from people who come to our eminent speakers breakfasts: Mr. Schlesinger, Madam Clarkson, and Rick Hillier. When they speak at Pier 21, they talk about being somewhere else and people coming up to them with maple leaves and saying “Canada”.
You see it best when you're somewhere else. You sometimes take for granted what we have here. So I think a legacy to consider is some means of getting more of our young people somewhere else for a while. It might sound a little odd at first, but the association of university presidents met last week, and one of their concerns is that there aren't enough university students leaving the country to come back and realize that. I think that's an important part of being Canadian.
It's a vast land. It's a huge land, as Meg knows, from the north, but to leave it and see it through the lens of looking back in can make you feel really strongly about the future here and about wanting to participate in that future.
Speaking of participation, I do want to thank you for this invitation and opportunity. It's an honour to be here. I look forward to your questions.
The Chair Rob Moore
Thank you for your presentation.
Thanks to all of you for your presentations.
Now we will move to our question and answer period. The first questioner is Mr. Calandra, for seven minutes.
February 7th, 2012 / 12:25 p.m.
Paul Calandra Oak Ridges—Markham, ON
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thanks to all of you for coming. Again, we're sorry that we're a bit late today.
I'll start with you, Mr. O'Neill, but then if all of you could answer, that would be great.
In the context of Canada's 150 or even just of moving forward, I'm wondering if any thought has been given to how we can involve small local museums in this. In my riding, I have the Stouffville museum, the Markham Museum, and the King museum. Each has some pretty unique collections they've stored, particularly the Stouffville and Markham museums. One of the difficulties they have is actually displaying them and getting people there. I'm wondering if there's any thought about tying it in.
I'll ask my other two questions and let you guys go at it, because we only have seven minutes.
The other thing I wanted to ask about was public-private partnerships in the context of 150. The Olympics were a great way to get private partnerships involved. In the context of 150, what can the government do to facilitate making it easier for you to get private partnerships? What has worked for you in the past? Also, is there anything you could suggest about improving your ability to actually get out there and get private money?
The last question is, if you can get to it, are you working together at all—the national museums—to have a certain focus? You all have individual plans, but is there any thought about working together as well? I'll leave it at that.
Mr. O'Neill, you can start, and then I'll let the rest go at it.
President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation
I'll be brief, Mr. Chair, because I know a number of important questions have been asked. I might just tackle them a little bit in reverse, and then I'm going to ask my colleague Jean-Marc—if that's all right—to respond to one of them.
To answer very quickly, we have developed a three-year fundraising plan at the museum. We have a development branch internally. Right now, we're developing positioning statements about our museum and about Canada 150 that we think will enable us to do fundraising in terms of major gifts, sponsorship, and planned giving, those kinds of major activities. At our board level, our board of trustees is a very active development committee, and they've taken a very direct interest in this. We have a very engaged board.
Certainly as the government develops its broader communications plan for Canada 150 and helps us create a sense of excitement and placement, that will be quite helpful, but we are preparing now. We have had success in fundraising in the past, particularly with the Canadian War Museum, given the issue of veterans and the preservation of our military history.
I'm sorry, but your second question...?
The Chair Rob Moore
Okay, go ahead.
Jean-Marc Blais Vice-President, Exhibitions and Programs, Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation
The point I was making was that we've just signed an agreement with the Haida Gwaii Museum and the McCord Museum in Montreal to actually put together our expertise in collections for a travelling exhibition abroad on the Haida culture. That's another way for us to actually work with smaller institutions.
In terms of 2017, we're going to be using the same type of approach. We're certainly thinking that being a national museum doesn't mean that we are “the big one” in Ottawa and we don't work with the smaller ones. To the contrary; it's something that's been dear to our hearts to actually work with smaller institutions in different capacities, exchanging expertise but at the same time trying to build on each other's collections for projects.