Thank you, Mr. Chair. I also wish to thank the members of the committee.
On behalf of the members of our board of directors and its chair, Mr. Gary Polonsky, allow me to thank you for having us here today and giving us this opportunity of sharing our ideas with you.
Please allow me to first give you a brief overview of who we are and what we do. The Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation's vision is to engage all Canadians in their past, present, and future scientific and technological heritage.
The Canadian Science and Technology Museums Corporation has close to 230 employees who work in the three museums it operates and administers, that is to say the Canada Science and Technology Museum, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, and the Canada Agriculture Museum.
In other words, as I sometimes like to say, what we cover spans everything from Holstein to Einstein. It is a testament to how pervasive and ubiquitous science and technology are in our daily lives.
Currently our corporation's offerings reach over nine million Canadians, both online and offline. We have had nearly 14 million visits in the last 20 years across the three museums.
We are here today to present the contribution our three museums will bring to the celebrations surrounding the 150th anniversary of Confederation, which are being planned to mark this important milestone our country will reach in 2017.
2017 will also be an important milestone for us as we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Museum of Science and Technology in 1967.
As you know, innovation in the fields of science and technology is an important priority for the Government of Canada. It is an important factor in the competitiveness of our economy, the prosperity of our nation, and the well-being of all Canadians. Our legislated mandate compels us to support these priorities.
Our mandate is twofold. On one hand, we are responsible for keeping alive the memory of the numerous scientific and technological innovations contributed by Canadians to the world. As one reporter writing about us in the Ottawa Citizen put it this weekend, we are a bit like the nation's attic—a fascinating place full of treasures where generations can celebrate and rediscover past accomplishments and get inspired for the future, lighting a spark of interest that may steer young Canadians towards careers in science and technology down the road.
By stimulating the imagination of the innovators of tomorrow in this way, by exposing them to the wide array of possibilities that are open to them and by showing them everything they have yet to discover, we contribute to the ongoing improvement of Canada's innovation culture, and to ensuring that we remain one of the world leaders in innovation. Our projects for the celebration of the 150th anniversary will build on our main strengths, that is to say our museums, our partners, the history of Canadian men and women, and our collections. Our celebrations will cover the past, the present, as well as the future of science and technology in Canada.
Throughout the preparation of our contributions to Canada's 150th celebrations, we intend to continue to rely extensively on the use of social media platforms to actively engage Canadians from across the country so they can tell us what we could be celebrating on that occasion. We will focus on objects, people, places, and careers using the past, present, and future.
The first part of our celebration will consist in identifying 150 scientific and technological innovations that have marked our history and changed the life of Canadians, as well as identifying related artifacts and objects. Our museum curators have already begun to identify some of these innovations and artifacts. We will be using social media to ask Canadians to identify the innovations or technologies that have affected them the most. We will use our museums, either in a real or virtual way, to celebrate our successes of the past 150 years.
The second area we will focus on is people, past and present.
As you may already know, the Canada Science and Technology Museum is home to the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame. It includes the likes of Alexander Graham Bell, who made it possible for Canadians from Newfoundland and Labrador to speak in real time with their fellow citizens in British Columbia, or indeed to anyone, anywhere in the world, at any time.
We also count among the inductees Sir Frederick Banting, the Canadian Nobel Prize winner who discovered insulin, with the result that for tens of thousands of people suffering from diabetes, a diagnosis of that condition is no longer a death sentence and they can lead healthy, normal lives.
The Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame is a very select club and only those who have made a phenomenal contribution to those areas are admitted into it. At the present time there are 51 members in this pantheon. However, as new members are admitted every year, and given the incredible richness of the scientific and engineering communities in Canada and of their work, our curators believe that it would be entirely warranted to see this number reach 150 by the 150th anniversary of Confederation.
We will celebrate these 150 individuals who have contributed to our technological and scientific heritage, while creating a link with the future. We are considering various activities involving members of the public so as to twin these great Canadian innovators with some young innovators of today who may one day, in their turn, be admitted into our hall of fame, thus creating a sort of hall of fame of young promising innovators who are making their mark in the fields of science, technology, mathematics and engineering.
The second aspect of our planned contributions to Canada's 150th celebration would deal with present places of great scientific and technological interest across the country, and invite Canadians to identify them, and to go out and visit them. This is a way to engage Canadians from all over the country to think about the place, literally, that science and technology occupies in their lives and all around them.
I'm thinking, for example, of TRIUMF, Canada's national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics at the University of British Columbia; Canadian Light Source in Saskatoon; and the colossal engineering works of the James Bay hydroelectric dams or the Confederation Bridge.
By asking Canadian men and women to participate in identifying these 150 locations that have particular scientific and technological significance, once again through a dialogue between our experts and the public using social media, we will be able to make our contribution to the celebration of the 150th anniversary of Canada, while remaining faithful to our mandate, which is to demonstrate to Canadians the influence of science and technology in the economic, social and cultural fields.
On the subject of places, I'd like to mention that we will bring into the fold of our celebrations those activities that are currently occurring under Let's Talk Energy, our pan-Canadian energy literacy initiative, which we launched last year and which is scheduled to culminate in 2017. We've begun gathering a network of partners, in 27 locations across the country already and from coast to coast, to help Canadians find answers to their questions and concerns about the sustainable future of Canada's energy production, commercialization, consumption, and distribution. We are aiming to have 150 partner institutions and venues to help us engage Canadians in a conversation about energy by 2017—Canada, as you know, being an energy country from coast to coast to coast.
Finally, I'll speak on the subject of future carriers and areas of research. For the third aspect of our strategy to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation, we will give thoughtful consideration to our future. We need only to look back at the number of fields of inquiry and research that exist today, which were unheard of only a few years back, to see and appreciate that the influence of science and technology in all aspects of society will continue to grow, in ways many Canadians cannot imagine today. In order to give Canadians a glimpse of what the future might hold, we will identify the areas of interest or fields of research that will probably shape our lives tomorrow. Whether it be nanotechnology or genetic engineering, such fields of research are so vast and still so largely uncharted that we can safely assume they will continue to require Canadians' attention for decades to come. By making Canadians, especially young Canadians, aware of the fascinating questions that still need to be answered in the exciting new frontiers of science and technology, we may contribute to planting the seeds of future careers in the fertile minds of our young visitors.
Our strategy to mark Canada's 150th anniversary is based on our current capacity as an organization. We will, of course, seek to work with other organizations to maximize the impact of our resources and to gain broad national involvement in our proposed celebrations.
We are working among other things on the development of numerous exciting projects that may well see the light of day before the 150th anniversary.
Projects are shaping up, for example, on the science of hockey, on medical technologies, on food science, on space exploration, and on girls' participation in science and engineering, to name just a few.
Finally, I would like to remind everyone that aside from the pan-Canadian scope of our work, our museums are among the main tourist attractions in the national capital region. We are in second place among national museums with regard to the number of visitors.
In closing, as I hope to have conveyed to you through this presentation, the 150th anniversary provides the three museums of the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation with a variety of opportunities to engage with partners in a lively dialogue with Canadians from coast to coast to coast about our country's unique contribution to science and technology.