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Canadian history, heritage at risk from cuts to Libraries and Archives Canada, say academics

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York University professor Craig Heron told Postmedia News the Conservatives are “bleeding Canadian history dry” with cuts to Libraries and Archives Canada outlined in the 2012 budget. He is among the growing number of academics denouncing the spending cuts. Yet, 28 million was spent on a reenactment of the War of 1812 recently.

“It’s absurd the money that went into celebrating a war that essentially touched southern Ontario, that was highly inconclusive, and could hardly be said to have shaped Canada, but while millions in public funds finance (the reenactment), the actual institutions that preserve Canadian history are being badly slashed.”

said Heron, the former president of the Canadian Historical Association.

About 20 per cent of the 500 workers at Archives and Libraries Canada will lose their jobs under the Tories’ budget cuts. The layoffs will also close libraries at the immigration, transport and public works departments.

“Expertise is being lost, longtime knowledgeable workers are being pushed out the door and it’ll be much harder for Canada to record and write its history,” said Union of National Employees president Doug Marshall.

Responding to the calls for additional funding, a spokesperson for the heritage minister said Libraries and Archives Canada has enough money to fulfill its mandate.

“Library and Archives Canada is working to digitize its collection,” said Jessica Fletcher. “This means Canadians in all regions of the country will have access to our history, at less cost to taxpayers.”

However, under the 2012 budget, digitization staff will be cut by 50 per cent.

as found in the Calgary Herald, November 21, 2012

Perhaps, we as Canadians, might also wish to consider not selling off  pieces of our Canadian cultural  fabric.  The marketing rights of the Royal Canadian Mounties, are owned by Disney.  The Canadian Pacific Hotel chain , founded in conjunction with the  national railways system in  the late 1880s,  is  owned by Fairmont Hotel chains.  Most recently, the Hudson Bay Company, incorporated by an English Charter by King Charles II  in 1670 as a fur trading  post,  was the world’s oldest  department store, with roots in the development of Canada.  It is now owned by Target.   All three Canadian institutions are now  woven with American’s foreign interests.
As Canadian citizens,  it is our duty to protect  our cultural heritage and celebrate it. Cutting cultural workforce staff, as well as selling off cultural icons,   will hurt Canadian culture in the long run, limiting access. While  cost cutting measures might seem necessary,  spending must be decided not off the cuff as a political move but minimally to ensure preservation for  future Canadians to experience.

Author: spotwin

While I am a librarian , I am a reading cheerleader. The purpose of this library blog is to better promote reading and information literacy to community. I love books, reading to my son,properly placed apostrophes,canoeing, locating the nearest Starbucks, cheering the Montreal Canadians, and Cherry Garcia ice cream.

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