Canadian Heritage Committee on April 26th, 2012
A recording is available from Parliament.
On the agenda
- Marie-France Kenny President, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada
- Michelle Bélanger General Manager, Musée des Abénakis
- Carol Sheedy Vice-President, Operations, Eastern Canada, Parks Canada Agency
- Jean-Denis Gill General Manager, Native Museum of Mashteuiatsh
- Marie-Claude Reid Executive Director, Exporail, Canadian Railway Museum
- Garry Anderson Executive Director, Canadian Museum of Rail Travel
- Stephen Cheasley President, Exporail, Canadian Railway Museum
The Chair Rob Moore
Good morning, everybody. We'll get started on our final meeting of our study on Canada's 150th birthday.
Welcome to all of our guests. We have a full witness list today: la Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada; Musée des Abénakis; Parks Canada; the Native Museum of Mashteuiatsh; Exporail; and the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel.
Welcome to all of our witnesses. We're very excited about this study as we look to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday. You've all been invited to provide your unique perspective on how we should celebrate. We look forward to the report of the committee that will be based on the testimony we hear.
The way the committee works is that each group has 10 minutes for opening remarks. Once each group has spoken, we will move to questions and answers.
In the same order as listed on your agenda, then, we'll start with the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada.
Marie-France Kenny President, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada
Bonjour. Good morning.
I'd like to say that you've saved the best for last, just looking at the panel before you today.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair and members.
My name is Marie-France Kenny, and I am President of the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada. I am here with Serge Quinty, our Director of Communications.
First, I want to thank you for inviting us to appear. We are here today on behalf of the 2.5 million francophone citizens living in the francophone and Acadian communities in nine provinces and three territories of Canada.
I would like to begin my presentation by telling you about us. The francophone and Acadian communities of Canada are descendants of the Acadians who founded Port Royal in 1604, the Métis and francophones who created the province of Manitoba in 1870, the colonists who cleared the land in northern Ontario in the early 20th century and the pioneers who founded Maillardville, British Columbia, in 1909. These are people who have lived in every province and territory for a long time.
However, the francophone and Acadian communities are also home to hundreds of thousands of francophone immigrants, individuals and families who have chosen to live in French in Halifax, Toronto and Edmonton and to contribute to our collective enrichment.
They are also Canadians whose mother tongue is English but who have chosen French out of love for the language, for those who speak it and for the opportunities it affords. I am referring, for example, to all those parents determined to have their children educated in French.
Our communities are therefore an integral part of the past, present and future of Canada, a country that we helped build and in the development of which we take part in a thousand and one ways.
It is in that perspective that we want to take part in the celebrations for Canada's 150th anniversary. This is also an opportunity to celebrate what we are and what we contribute to our country. We have a story to tell, to share. It is a vision of sharing, exchange and dialogue that we want to put forward for 2017.
You know as well as I do that Canada has changed a great deal since its centennial in 1967. And the two major principles that have transformed our country most are undoubtedly linguistic duality and multiculturalism. Our communities know something about that. They are now more than ever levers for their own development thanks to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Official Languages Act.
And we are also seeing the growing diversity of Canadian society in our communities. In 2006, 13% of the population of our communities were immigrants. That is why we now talk about an open francophone community that includes all those who choose to live in French, regardless of their mother tongue or origin.
Consequently, you will not be surprised to hear that we wholly support the idea that the celebrations of Canada's 150th anniversary must include anglophone and francophone Canadians, Métis and first nations, as well as new Canadians and ethnocultural communities. We think it is important that our objective for these celebrations be to seek out and seize all opportunities to forge closer ties among all the components of what we call Canada.
Although linguistic duality and cultural diversity are widely recognized by Canadians as values that define our country and society, opportunities for dialogue and exchange among the various communities remain limited. We often get the feeling that Canadian society consists of groups that, as a result of distances or different situations, do not have the opportunity to speak to or understand one another.
When we celebrated Canada's centennial in 1967, we were not just thinking of the past, but also of the future. We must address our 150th anniversary in the same way. To consider it our objective to restore Canadians' desire to know one another and to move forward as a collective "we" is to secure our country's future in a century in which an aggregate of minorities will become the new majority. It is to show the entire world how we can achieve unity in diversity. To be able to say that, in 2017, all components of Canadian society have taken the time to know each other, to speak to each other, to recognize each other as fellow citizens, while respecting each other's specificity, is not only desirable, but also infinitely useful in developing a country such as ours.
For us, the francophone and Acadian communities, that would mean that we would finally stop seeing ourselves solely as minorities and view ourselves instead as citizens. It would also mean that we would understand, once and for all, that francophones and anglophones have equal linguistic rights and that that equality benefits Canada as a whole.
We would be very much in favour of the Government of Canada playing a leadership role on the occasion of Canada's 150th anniversary and supporting activities that create opportunities for dialogue among the various components of Canadian society. The FCFA is prepared to cooperate in the creation of those opportunities for dialogue. We have ideas, key concepts to present to you for that purpose.
First of all, since we are talking about the future, we believe it is essential to focus on activities that encourage dialogue and exchange among young people. Our communities have many success stories in this area. I am thinking of the many editions of the Jeux de la francophonie canadienne. I know how many young people have taken part in them, who have enjoyed that intense experience with other young francophones and have emerged from it motivated and proud to be francophone. I am thinking of the Parlement jeunesse pancanadien, organized annually by the Fédération de la jeunesse canadienne-française with young people across the country. These activities have had remarkable success and could serve as models for broader initiatives that would bring together young people from the various components of Canadian society.
It is also important that exchange and dialogue initiatives not be launched merely at the national level. They should involve people in all regions of the country and at the local level, where the Canadian experience is more vibrant and original. With regard to these exchanges, which may occur between schools and organizations operating in a single sector or groups of citizens, we believe we should focus not on an outdated vision of the other group, but rather on its assets and knowledge, on who we are today. We believe that tourism, culture, heritage and economic development are promising areas.
Lastly, since we are talking about the importance of a common understanding of who we are, we cannot overlook the fact that, in Canada, perspectives on the history of our society vary from region to region, from community to community. Major events, such as Champlain's arrival in Port Royal, in Quebec City, contact with the first nations, the arrival of British colonists in the 18th century, the opening of the Canadian west and the establishment of the first settlements in the Arctic, are told differently by English Canadians, Quebeckers, the francophone and Acadian communities and the first nations. We think that Canada's 150th anniversary would be a good opportunity to develop a history textbook that brings together many perspectives, that could be offered in the schools across the country. That textbook would be drafted by a committee including experts from the various components of Canadian society.
Of course, as suggested for the Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Games, it is essential that Canada's linguistic duality be a prominent factor in all 150th anniversary activities supported by the federal government. That means, in particular, including language clauses in all transfer agreements with the provinces and territories for events as part of those celebrations. It also means that the ceremonies at all events funded by the Government of Canada will take place in both official languages.
Lastly, in light of the challenges we faced with signage at the Richmond Olympic oval, it is important that measures be taken to ensure that the entire physical legacy of the 150th anniversary has signage in both official languages.
I will conclude by making a specific recommendation to this committee for the purpose of the report it will be preparing at the end of this study. You have heard a broad variety of ideas and visions from various stakeholders. There is clearly a desire for Canada's 150th anniversary to be celebrated extensively, inclusively and in a positive and unifying manner, leaving a tangible legacy behind it. Now we need clear leadership to ensure all that becomes a reality.
There is still no central coordination to establish a clear vision of the 150th anniversary. And yet 2017 is only five years away. That is why we recommend establishing a committee that would be responsible for coordinating preparations for the 150th anniversary celebrations for the Government of Canada in partnership with the provincial and territorial governments and Canadian civil society. That committee should be inclusive and, in particular, include representatives of the francophone communities outside Quebec. When the Hon. James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, appeared before you, the discussion turned to consultations and round tables with the first nations to determine how they wanted to celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary. We consider that idea very appropriate, but it is also important that such consultations also be conducted with the official language minority communities.
I'd like to thank you, and I will be happy to answer any questions in either official language.
The Chair Rob Moore
Now we will move to Ms. Bélanger.
Michelle Bélanger General Manager, Musée des Abénakis
Good morning, Mr. Chair and honourable committee members.
I will be making my presentation in French.
First of all, I want to thank you for inviting me to take part in today's meeting. I am here as a museologist and General Manager of the Musée des Abénakis, Quebec's first aboriginal museum, founded in 1965 and located on the Odanak Indian reserve in the Centre-du-Québec region. I also want to mention that I am the first non-aboriginal manager that this first aboriginal museum has had since its inception. I would like to make a few observations and comments on the role of small museums in the celebrations for Canada's 150th anniversary and on the ways that can be considered for facilitating their involvement in that very important event.
But first of all, allow me to present the Musée des Abénakis, a small museum similar to most of the 2,000 members of the Canadian Museums Association. The Musée des Abénakis, which is a private institution administered by the Société historique d'Odanak, an independent non-profit organization of the Odanak band council, is located in a small aboriginal community of 400 members. We receive 7,000 visitors every year from 90% of the regions of Quebec and from Canada.
The Musée des Abénakis conserves the knowledge, know-how and traditions of the Abenaki nation and passes them on to future generations. Its primary mission is to engage in and develop a viable constructive dialogue between Abenaki culture and the members of the community and between aboriginal culture and the museum's visitors.
The Musée des Abénakis is also interested in the experience and achievements of the other aboriginal nations of Quebec and Canada and also feels it has a mandate to promote the creative works of contemporary aboriginal artists. The museum has five full-time employees, including three Abenaki from the community. During the summer, various employability assistance programs, such as Young Canada Works, help us hire additional workers, mostly members of the Abenaki first nation.
The museum has some 20 volunteers who take part in our cultural and funding activities, as well as 150 members.
Our collections comprise nearly 8,000 archeological and ethnological objects and works of art. Through a three-year expansion and renovation program started in 2003, we have established museum reserves in accordance with standards guaranteeing optimum conservation of artefacts and additional exhibition areas.
The Musée des Abénakis is one of the 123 Quebec museums recognized and supported by the Quebec government's department of culture, communication and the status of women. As a result, we receive recurring operating assistance representing 24% of our total revenue. That amount, which has been the same for more than 20 years, is inadequate to support the institution's operation. Our other revenue sources are museum admissions, museum store sales, donations and various federal and provincial government ad hoc project grants.
In 2011, a $198,000 contribution from the Aboriginal Heritage component of Canadian Heritage's Museums Assistance Program was granted to us for a major archeological research project entitled, Fort Odanak: the past revisited. This is a three-year project, the purpose of which is to locate a fortified village built in 1704 and to establish better documentation on land use during the period when first contact was made with the aboriginal population. Once the project is finished, we will share our research results with Canadians through various development programs: a semi-permanent and virtual exhibition and educational and cultural programs. Without this generous contribution by Canadian Heritage, it would not be possible to share an important segment of Canadian history.
Other national projects have also been made possible through financial assistance from Canadian Heritage: two virtual exhibitions as part of the community memories program and a project to digitize and document our collections.
Although our revenues have risen in the past three years, it will be impossible for us to take part in the celebrations for Canada's 150th anniversary without financial assistance from Canadian Heritage. A funding program will therefore have to be created specially for the museums for that occasion. Eligibility criteria will have to take into account institutions of all sizes and could be similar to those of the Holidays, Celebrations and Commemorations program. There will have to be a call for projects in 2013 since some initiatives will require a long planning and execution period. To encourage more Canadians to take part in the festivities, this funding program should favour institutions that encourage the members of their local communities to get involved in their projects. Here then are a few project suggestions.
The Musée des Abénakis is a member of several Canadian and Quebec museum associations whose representatives you have had the pleasure of receiving here: the Canadian Museums Association, the Société des musées québécois and Médiat-Muse, which is an association of museums and exhibition centres in Mauricie and the Centre-du-Québec. Médiat-Muse's mandate is to coordinate and ensure a supply of services and activities to institutions in a single region. One achievement under that mandate is a territorial exhibition held on a common theme every four years. In a given year, some 30 institutions present temporary exhibitions on the selected theme. Every member is responsible for producing and presenting its exhibition. Médiat-Muse promotes all the exhibitions presented through grants and private funding. It would be appropriate to grant funding to those kinds of associations that could promote commemoration activities in a given region for 2017. The cultural network is very strong and promotes the outreach of small institutions that cannot afford to do so on their own.
The Internet and social media can also play a very important role in disseminating high-quality historical content and enabling people to discover the collections of Canada's museums. A program such as community memories would help small institutions develop virtual exhibitions that can be accessed by the vast majority of Canadians. These exhibitions require little in the way of material or financial resources to develop and could be produced by small museums. Canadian Heritage could conduct a cross-Canada advertising campaign to promote the exhibitions. Smartphone apps for accessing Canadian museums' collections or short history capsules would be of interest to younger audiences. A unique model developed by the Canadian Heritage information network could be available to all museums, and they would be responsible for developing information content. This would be a universally accessible solution.
Another idea to consider is pooling expertise. Federal and provincial government institutions could associate with small museums to develop satellite exhibitions. For example, the Canadian Museum of Civilization would present an exhibition on the first nations based on objects from the collections of aboriginal museums across Canada. Those museums would offer their visitors a smaller, local version of the exhibition presented in Gatineau. This would make it possible to circulate collections across the country, thus encouraging people to discover the rich aboriginal heritage.
Lastly, consideration should be given to ensuring greater access to the mobile exhibitions circulated. Rental and transportation costs for those productions are very high and prevent visitors from discovering extraordinary collections. The eligibility criteria for the exhibition circulation fund will have to be relaxed.
In closing, I want to emphasize that Canada's 150th anniversary is not necessarily an event the first nations wish to celebrate. I am not a spokesperson for the Abenaki or any other first nation, but, from a historical viewpoint, the creation of Canada led to the passage, in 1876, of the Indian Act, which is still in force today. Regardless of the programs developed by Canadian Heritage for commemorative events in 2017, the preferred theme of the festivities, again in my view, should be Canada's cultural diversity. The first nations will have to tell their story, an uncensored story, a story more than a thousand years old in this vast land that today we call Canada. It is that story, that knowledge and that know-how that we convey to our visitors every day.
My sincere thanks to every one of you for inviting me to this committee meeting. I sincerely hope that Canadian Heritage will make it possible for all museums, regardless of size, to take part in the festivities in 2017.
I will be very pleased to answer your questions.
The Chair Rob Moore
Next we'll move to Parks Canada.
Carol Sheedy Vice-President, Operations, Eastern Canada, Parks Canada Agency
Good morning, everyone.
I am Vice-President of Operations for Eastern Canada at Parks Canada. That means operations in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. It is a great pleasure to speak to you today. Thank you for the opportunity to do so.
My colleague Andrew Campbell was pleased to provide background recently on Parks Canada to the committee and to share with you the key strategies and programs of our centennial celebrations. I think it is worth noting once more the three key strategies of our centennial, since they have proven to be highly effective and will be used again as we are planning Parks Canada’s road to 2017.
These strategies are, first of all, to leave a legacy of lasting improvements, including renewed infrastructure and built heritage; to expand our impact and to use a multiplying effect by engaging partners in the media, among our stakeholders, and across the federal family; and finally, to engage all Canadians, including our employees across the country.
It would also appear that these strategies could be applicable to the celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday. With this in mind, I will not repeat any further information, but I would like to focus your committee’s request for details on the Lachine Canal, The Fur Trade at Lachine, and the Fort Chambly national historic sites, as well as your request to share other past experiences of Parks Canada celebrations.
I will begin by discussing our experiences with the 400th anniversary of Québec City celebration.
Preparations for the celebrations surrounding Quebec City's 400th anniversary started as early as 2001 at the Parks Canada Agency. In 2005, the federal government announced a $104 million investment earmarked for the anniversary in Quebec City, including $24 million from Parks Canada to build Espace 400e in the Old Port. Espace 400e would become the focal point of the festivities for the 400th anniversary of Quebec City.
On the whole, the anniversary was acclaimed as an enormous success in terms of crowds and public appreciation. 2008 was a record year in terms of economic and media spin-off. It was estimated that 8 million people attended the 290 activities. Aside from the economic spin-off, it should be noted that the lasting effect was to develop new products. As well, a wide variety of partners became involved in the events. These partners provided a financial top-up, and their offer had a multiplier effect in terms of marketing.
The 400th anniversary had a mixed impact on tourism in other Quebec regions. Some tourism operators blamed the slow start to the summer tourist season in 2008 to tourists going to Quebec City instead of Quebec's other regions. Others, however, claimed that foreign travellers visiting Quebec City also took the opportunity to visit other parts of the province, such as the Eastern Townships.
Looking ahead now, you asked my colleague Andrew Campbell about the 2017 celebration plans and opportunities for Parks Canada in the greater Montreal area. You specifically requested details for, as I mentioned earlier, the Lachine Canal, The Fur Trade at Lachine, and the Fort Chambly national historic sites, and opportunities to leverage Parks Canada assets in those areas.
Located in Montérégie, Fort Chambly attracts over 100,000 visitors every year. It is one of Parks Canada’s most visited and well-known sites in Quebec. With the Lachine Canal, it is well positioned to make a significant contribution to the federal tourism strategy. With the help of both public and private regional partners, last year Fort Chambly changed its approach to the visitor experience. The new concept involves offering a menu of experience opportunities, targeting different types of travellers, and taking an approach that is now off the beaten path.
Here are some of the changes we are considering: Fort Chambly rooms will be refurbished in order to facilitate our offering of culinary experiences and interactive or virtual activities; the inner courtyard may be altered to put on musical productions; the fort's exterior walls could be used to screen films in the evening; and finally, the exterior park and adjacent buildings could be refurbished to become an area for cultural gatherings and activities during the 150th anniversary celebrations.
As we upgrade the visitor experience at Fort Chambly, a new priority clientele for Parks Canada—it's a new audience that we are targeting over the next 10 years, that is, young families and adults from the city—will be more interested in learning about their heritage. As well, we will set the stage for private and public partners to present a wide variety of cultural and community activities, making Fort Chambly a new gathering place for communities and partners to have a chance to experience Canada's heritage.
The Lachine Canal and The Fur Trade at Lachine national historic sites have both played an important role in the history and development of Canada, and Montreal particularly. The Lachine Canal received national designation for a variety of themes: it served as a hub between the heart of the continent and the Atlantic Ocean in the 19th and 20th centuries; it was a precursor of the transportation revolution in Canada in the early 19th century; it played a pivotal role in the industrial and commercial development of Montreal, namely through the production of hydro power; finally, it served as a corridor for industry in the different stages of Canada's industrialization. The Fur Trade at Lachine national historic site commemorates the legendary history of the fur trade that started in Montreal.
The Lachine Canal receives over one million visitors a year, most of them Montrealers. It is a key Parks Canada site in Quebec and it helps us connect effectively with young, urban and new Canadians. After receiving $100 million in joint funding, the Lachine Canal was reopened to boating in 2002 after being closed to navigation for many decades. This reopening has led to over $1.5 billion in private investment, basically helping attract even more Canadians and Montrealers to the shores of the Lachine Canal. Additionally, with its $10 million investment in the Lachine Canal in 2009-10, Canada’s economic action plan helped to rehabilitate and set up some of the elements of the corridor with interpretation tools, meeting areas, street furniture, and repair of the bicycle and foot paths along the shores of the canal.
The City of Montreal has expressed an interest in renewing the partnership with Parks Canada and to continue the development of the Lachine Canal for 2017. Also, 2017 is the 375th anniversary of the founding of Montreal, and Gérald Tremblay, Montreal's mayor, has already stated that he wants to complete the redevelopment of the Lachine Canal and make it one of Montreal's six key legacies. Parks Canada is currently working with the City of Montreal on these projects.
If we look at opportunities, there are two sectors that present opportunities. In the southwest, we could work at developing the Peel sector to make that area a community and cultural gathering place; improve access to the canal, especially to and from the local neighbourhoods that are growing increasingly around the canal in that area; and build a canal square that would become Parks Canada's showcase as well as the Government of Canada's showcase in Montreal.
In the Lachine sector, we could do two things: within the Borough of Lachine, we could develop facilities that provide access to the water and aquatic activities to the many communities in that area; and stabilize the heritage assets there, the old canal walls.
Meanwhile the development of private housing projects is encouraging public partners to prepare and implement a development plan for public areas around the Lachine Canal, representing for us an additional opportunity for partnership with the private sector.
2012-2017 is a period of significant anniversaries of importance to Canada's history, culminating in Canada's 150th in 2017. During this time, Parks Canada will align its activities and resources to best support and benefit from the overall Government of Canada agenda for commemorations and celebrations during this momentous period.
For Parks Canada, highlights of this period will include: enhanced programs and numerous special events in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada during 2012-2014 to commemorate the War of 1812; significant capital improvements at Fort George and Fort Mississauga and a Parks Canada presence at Toronto's Fort York; a nationally televised six-part docudrama series on the war, with the first episode launching this spring, and supported by other national awareness-building activities; the 300th anniversary of Louisbourg in 2013; the centennial of historic commemoration in Canada in 2014; the bicentennial of the birth of John A. Macdonald, and showcasing historic sites related to prime ministers, in 2015; and preparing for and celebrating Canada's 150th anniversary in 2016 and 2017.
Parks Canada will utilize opportunities presented by these key events to advance the goals of the Government of Canada and the agency. This will be done in a way that helps optimize awareness of Parks Canada places and increases visitation to them, as well as contributing to the objectives of the federal tourism strategy.
The goal of the Government of Canada's commemorations and celebrations is for Canadians to become increasingly aware and informed about their heritage. We endeavour to present how significant events in history led to Canada becoming an independent country from coast to coast to coast with the unique values and attributes that we cherish as Canadians today.
As Canada's plans for our 150th birthday take shape, Parks Canada will be doing its utmost to add the benefit of our experience to ensure this great occasion is truly memorable and engaging for all Canadians.
Thank you for listening. It would be a great pleasure to answer your questions.
The Chair Rob Moore
Next we have Mr. Gill.
Jean-Denis Gill General Manager, Native Museum of Mashteuiatsh
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and members of the committee.
I'm going to be giving my presentation in French because it will be easier for me. I will try to be slower because I don't have anything prepared for that.
Thank you very much for inviting us here. It is an honour. It is important to get the opinions of a number of organizations or members of the aboriginal communities.
I won't repeat everything my colleague Michelle Bélanger said about small museums and aboriginal museums. We are experiencing appreciably the same situation. The Musée amérindien de Mashteuiatsh was established in 1977. We went through a major expansion in 1998, and our goal and role are to promote and conserve the past and present history of the members of our community, of the entire Pekogami Innu nation.
With regard to the role that we can play in the festivities for Canada's 150th anniversary, on the one hand, as was mentioned earlier, not all the people of the first nations necessarily have the same desire to take part in those festivities considering all the history surrounding Canada's creation. However, the festivities may spur action or the introduction of tools enabling the various aboriginal nations to redevelop, to recreate a sense of belonging to and pride in Canada's history. As an organization that transmits history, we have that role and that ability to focus on what the aboriginal peoples have contributed since the discovery of Canada, and even before that. The idea is to enable those people, those nations, the members of our nations to feel a certain pride in what they have contributed throughout that history.
Of course, our financial resources are always limited. We do little with little in the way of resources or means. As Ms. Bélanger mentioned in connection with her museum, we are a recognized organization, of course, a museum recognized by the Government of Quebec. We have been receiving minor, although stable, operating funding for many years, as a result of which our small team must constantly find additional, independent funding through programs that are often ad hoc and that do not always assist in taking sustainable action.
If we want the festivities to contribute something to our little museums and to the aboriginal nations, I believe it is necessary to think and take action or to grant funding that will enable our small institutions to make presentations or developments, whether it be exhibitions or other things of that kind. That would help put the emphasis on the role and history of aboriginal peoples in Canada's creation. Thus, if we manage to make people in the communities proud and enthusiastic about their history, we may come out winners in that regard. We will be able to help the people of the first nations be participants in Canada's history and feel that they have had a role to play and still have a role to play, I hope, in Canada's development, in its present and future history.
I also believe it is important to note certain elements from the past because that is somewhat part of the process. Without wanting to address the political aspect or anything that might approach it, I will say that the members of our community had the opportunity to take part in the opening activities of the Vancouver Games. Some people in our community, and even those who took part, felt from the way things were done and the presentation of the event that a secondary role was assigned to the members of the first nations. That of course, once again, made us feel that an attempt was being made to use the nations' history without allowing the members of the community to take part in it.
In conclusion, I believe it is necessary, in the context of the 150th anniversary, to re-establish ties, opportunities for the aboriginal peoples and nations. That can be done through museums, among other things. We must restore aboriginal nations' pride and emphasize the role they played in Canada's creation and earlier history. Regardless of what action is taken, it must be concrete and go beyond the festivities of the 150th anniversary. History will not stop there. There will be other celebrations and other actions, and we must always think for the long term.
Thank you very much.
The Chair Rob Moore
Now we will move to Exporail.
Marie-Claude Reid Executive Director, Exporail, Canadian Railway Museum
Good afternoon, Mr. Chair and members.
We are very honoured by this invitation and pleased to be given the opportunity to present our suggestions as part of your study of Canada's 150th anniversary in 2017. I'm going to check my notes to make sure I stay within the 10-minute time limit.
The commemorative celebrations in 2017 will undoubtedly afford a unique opportunity to highlight important events in the development of our nation and the remarkable accomplishments of Canadians. Museums of all sizes across the country have a special role to play in preparing for these celebrations. The heritage they preserve, the history they share, the research they conduct, the works they display, the artistic presentations they organize and the partnerships they develop are just some of the contributions museums make to promoting a better understanding and appreciation of the history and achievements of Canadians.
Like every other museum, Exporail, the Canadian Railway Museum, is committed to protecting and promoting heritage—-in our case, a railway heritage that is of particular significance to contemporary society and future generations. Exporail is Canada's largest railway museum and, in the opinion of museologists, one of the finest in the world. The museum celebrated its 50th anniversary on July 21, a date that also marked another important Canadian event: the 175th anniversary of the launch of Canada's first public railway linking La Prairie, on Montreal's South Shore, with Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.
The museum houses a treasure of national interest: the collection of the Canadian Railroad Historical Association. Owner and operator of Exporail in Saint-Constant-Delson, Quebec, the CRHA is a non-profit organization incorporated under federal law in 1941. It has 800 members and 11 divisions covering all regions of the country.
The museum's impressive collection includes 168 locomotives, streetcars and other rolling stock, close to 10,000 artefacts, 1,000 scale models and 200 archive groups containing more than 250,000 plans, photographs, maps, documents and other material. According to a report prepared by Lord Cultural Resources Planning & Management Inc., a leading firm of museum consultants, ours is a national collection of international calibre. We share our railway vehicles, exhibitions and archives with various museums across the country, including the Revelstoke Railway Museum, the Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario, the Canadian Museum of Rail Transport, and the New Brunswick Railway Museum.
We believe that "Railways: Builders of Canada" is a theme that should be included in the event. The 150th anniversary of Confederation will celebrate the British North America Act, which created Canada as we know it today. Introduction of the steam locomotive to Canada and construction of the railways connecting the Maritimes with Upper and Lower Canada provided a cheaper and faster means of transporting people and freight over long distances. Expansion of this innovative method of transportation would even become a condition for several provinces to agree to join the federation.
In political terms, when the last spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway was driven on November 7,1885, Canada truly began to exist as a nation. In other words, the railways made Confederation not only possible but viable.
If any time remains at the end of the presentation, the president of the museum will show you the 1881 contract between the Canadian Pacific Railway Syndicate and the Government of Canada for the construction of a transcontinental railway, fulfilling one of the main requirements of the BNA Act.
Canadian railways have always played a significant role in the development of communities across our vast country, specifically by opening new lands for settlement, facilitating communication, developing tourism, encouraging immigration, fostering innovations in engineering, driving industry in the east and agriculture in the west, and providing access to Canada's natural resources. Today more than ever, railways continue to be the lifeblood of the country. In our opinion, one of the goals of the 2017 celebrations should be to hold this heritage high for Canadians of all ages to appreciate.
While railways have made an important contribution in all regions of the country, Quebec remains the birthplace of the railway in Canada and home to the nation's first five public railways: the Champlain & St. Lawrence Rail Road,1836, the Montreal & Lachine Railroad in 1847, the St. Lawrence & Industry Village Railroad in 1850, the St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad, in 1852, and the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada in 1853. This province is also the hub of an industry of which Bombardier Transport is now a world leader.
We would like to make the following recommendation. In our opinion, it is essential that activities to commemorate the 150th anniversary leave a concrete legacy. The railway heritage that commemorates the building of our great nation deserves a national museum. If the motion adopted by the Parliament of Canada in February 2007 recommending that the government recognize Exporail as the national railway museum were to be implemented, this would serve as an enduring, valuable and symbolic gesture for all Canadians. This project could continue the public-private partnership already in place at Exporail: if the current financial involvement of the railway industry, the Government of Quebec, local municipalities, private enterprise and individuals were to be complemented by the full support of the federal government, the long-term position and visibility of Canadian railway heritage would be ensured.
With regard to our second recommendation, we believe that the invitation for museums to participate in the 150th anniversary celebrations should include financial support. Museums are uniquely positioned to keep memories alive by presenting, sharing and preserving heritage. An appropriate level of funding for commemorative projects would help them to achieve their mission. This could take a lot of forms. Museums have ideas, but we suggest that a fund be established to restore railway equipment, large heritage objects. That could also take the form of upgrades to museum equipment and infrastructure to ensure that heritage is preserved. It could be circulating exhibitions that can be presented outside a museum and at other institutions. In short, there are a host of ideas because museums are extremely creative. They need only be offered the opportunity to do so for them to deliver events in which the community and communities will take part.
As for our third recommendation, we believe that a commission or independent organization should facilitate activity planning for the 150th anniversary. Non-profit organizations would be asked to work with that organization and with federal institutions such as Canada Post, the Royal Canadian Mint, ports and airports, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Parks Canada and VIA Rail Canada, to name but a few examples.
In conclusion, we thank you for listening to our presentation and wish to inform you that Exporail will be lending the British-built locomotive Dominion of Canada—a gift received in 1967 as part of celebrations marking the Centennial of Confederation—to England's National Railway Museum, considered to be the most prestigious museum of its type in the world. It will be on display in 2013-2014 for the 75th anniversary of the world speed record set by the locomotive Mallard. One million visitors are expected to attend the exhibition.
Finally, 2017 is also the centennial of the victory at Vimy Ridge, the culminating point in the war effort by Canadian railway troops. The unique expertise of these Canadian railway construction units, acquired primarily right here in Canada, was recognized by all of our allies. This victory earned Canada the right as a nation to sign the Versailles peace treaty in 1919.
The Chair Rob Moore
Now we will move to the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel, and Mr. Garry Anderson.
Mr. Anderson has some pictorial illustrations that staff were prepared to hand out, but due to our routine motions, I just want to point out to you that the description of the illustrations on the pages is in English. In order to hand them out we need the unanimous consent of the committee.
Is there unanimous consent to hand out the pictures?
Justin Trudeau Papineau, QC
We can look at them but we can't accept them. We can't keep them.
The Chair Rob Moore
In order to distribute them, we must have unanimous consent.
Justin Trudeau Papineau, QC
Then I don't grant unanimous consent.
The Chair Rob Moore
So you don't want to see the pictures?