The "Understanding Canada" Program

Published on: 20 May 2012

The CHA opposes the cuts made to National Archives Development Program and "Understanding Canada" Program 

Dear members of the historical community,
The full ramifications of the recent budget are only beginning to be understood but it is clear that in choosing what to fund and what to cut, the Harper government has gone to war against history, heritage, and ultimately Canada.

The Executive of the CHA has met and considers these cuts to be grave threats to our archival institutions and our ability to use those as historians. Quite simply, if carried out, the tools we depend on as historians, journalists, creative writers and artists, to preserve and share our national memory will be crippled. New resources will not come to light, the digital tools that make our work lighter will not be developed, and existing archival resources will not be protected.

So far two of the key attacks on the past come in the elimination of the budget for local archives and the total elimination of the Canadian Studies program.

First, we attach a letter from Lara Wilson, chair of the Canadian Council of Archives to Minister James Moore, with more information. The total $1.7 million budget for the National Archives Development Program, which has supported over 800 local archives for 26 years is gone.

Second, as of May 1st, the entire program “Understanding Canada” from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, which has supported Canadian Studies programs outside of Canada has been eliminated. This program gave very modest support to associations in countries around the world that focus on Canadian Studies, and will result in most of these associations being unable to function.

This government is cutting the funding that Canada needs in order to know itself and be a united country as well as a country that is known and understood by others around the world. We understand the economy is slow and the government is in deficit we note that it continues to spend on its priorities.

The executive has endorsed the letter from the Canadian Council of Archives and encourages all our members to email to Minister Moore, Minister Baird and Prime Minister Harper as well as your local MP to ask for the restoration of the National Archives Development Program and the Understanding Canada Program. Even better if you still have energy for a letter to the editor of your local paper or a relevant blog.

John Lutz
Advocacy Chair
Canadian Historical Association

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s email is:

Heritage Minister James Moore’s email address is:

Foreign Minister John Baird:

Your MP’s email address can be found at: <>

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