September 9th, 2020
Jaime Alfonso Mora, PSS
Society of the Priests of Saint-Sulpice Province of Canada
Minister of Culture and Communication
Province of Quebec
Dear Minister Roy and Provincial Superior Mora,
The Canadian Historian Association (CHA) joins other many organizations in expressing our concern about the archives and artifacts of the Society of the Priests of Saint-Sulpice, Province of Canada. These archives are not only important to the history of Montreal and Quebec but are also vital parts of the history of Canada. The CHA represents professional historians in Canada and the sudden firing of the staff at the Sulpician archives is a matter of national importance as it puts the collection at risk. It is a matter of the highest priority that these archives and artifacts be preserved, conserved, and be available for Quebecois and other Canadians to consult in centuries to come.
The archives of the Society of the Priests of Saint-Sulpice are one of the oldest, largest, best preserved, and important private archives in Canada. The collection is immense, consisting of a kilometer of archival boxes lined up end to end, some 8,000 maps and plans and 75,000 artifacts as well as many rare books. The Sulpicians, the largest male religious community in New France, have played a major role in the history of Quebec from the Seventeenth Century through the Twentieth. A large part of the religious, economic and intellectual history of early Quebec and Canada is preserved in these documents. The archives also contain invaluable information about the history of Indigenous-settler relations including those informing the modern history of Oka. Beyond its regional importance, the history of the Sulpicians also reflects the history of the Catholic Church in the West over the last three centuries and an important window into the history of Canada.
On behalf of all Canadians we urge you to find a way to continue the work of protection, conservation, and access to this priceless and irreplaceable collection which is now at risk.
Dr. Penny Bryden
See also the Institut d'histoire de l'Amérique française's letter posted on Histoire Engagée on 24 August 2020 (in French).
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