Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to contribute to this discussion on Bill C-7, a bill that would establish the new Canadian museum of history.
I would like to use this opportunity to remind the House of the importance of museums to our society, our identity, our unity, and our future as Canadians.
Our government values our museums and has demonstrated our support in a number of tangible ways. We have spoken also of the network that the new Canadian museum of history will lead. This network will connect Canada's history museums across the country so that they can access some of the 3 million items that are in the national collection.
Like most museums, the Canadian Museum of Civilization has the vast majority of its collection in storage. The future Canadian museum of history will be negotiating agreements in every single province and territory in this country so that it can get this collection moving across the country.
History is all around us; we are just not always consciously aware of it. Are members aware that the more than 2,500 museums in Canada welcome more than 27 million visitors every year?
Our museums are where many Canadians learn about their history. Our museums have a myriad of stories to tell, stories of grand accomplishments, perseverance, struggle, community, tragedy, and triumph.
As was already noted by the member for Leeds—Grenville in the previous intervention, according to the Canadian Museums Association, 96% of Canadians believe that museums contribute to the quality of life in our nation. Furthermore, 97% believe that museums do an excellent job of preserving and presenting our history.
Recently our government announced that museums across Canada will be able to share their exhibits with the Canadian museum of history and be able to access the new museum's collection.
To make it possible to share this rich collection with all Canadians, changes are being made to the federal museums assistance program in order to remove barriers to the circulation of museum exhibitions interprovincially and to financially assist small museums in borrowing objects and exhibitions from the Canadian museum of history.
We know that it is expensive to host and move exhibits and artifacts. That is why this government thought it was important to help smaller museums across the country access the national collection of the Canadian museum of history and make sure the artifacts could be displayed all across our country. That is exactly what our government is doing. Smaller museums often do not have the capacity to acquire an artifact to complete their collection or simply to be able to add an exhibit for their visitors. With the new support that we are putting in place, it would be easier for smaller museums to approach the Canadian museum of history and access its extensive national collection.
I would also like to point out that it has been more than 20 years since the current Canadian Museum of Civilization has been updated in a significant way. Therefore, it is time to refresh its mandate and orientation so that a new Canadian museum of history can focus on the story of this great country.
As has been mentioned in past debates, the Children's Museum will continue to be an integral part of the new museum; so will the Grand Hall and the First Peoples Hall, which present chapters of our story that are of immense importance, the history of Canada's first peoples.
At the same time, a significant part of the museum's success will be its ability to reach all Canadians and tell their stories, the stories of the people who helped build this country and those who continue to do so today. With that goal in mind, the future Canadian museum of history is signing partnership agreements with a number of museums to establish a nationwide museum network.
This new national museum will work with museums all across Canada to help ensure that our country's achievements and accomplishments are highlighted. We know that museums develop pride in local traditions and customs and that they help people to feel a sense of belonging and involvement in their community. Museums and the programming they support promote co-operation among different cultures and different age groups and help to create community and social networks.
As the creation of the Canadian museum of history shows, our government values the role that museums play in preserving and commemorating our past.
By the time we celebrate Canada's 150th birthday, Canadians will have a new museum that highlights the moments, the people, and the objects that have helped to shape our great country.
I ask that the members of the House consider the statement by one of Canada's best known and most respected historians, Michael Bliss, when he said that our collective history is our collective memory. He added that without memory, people become unmoored, adrift, lost, and said that was why so many people work so hard to preserve our national memories, our sense of ourselves as Canadians—as a people who have had a long and rich common experience.
Since the announcement in October 2012 of the transformation of the Canadian Museum of Civilization into the Canadian museum of history, we have heard from many organizations that enthusiastically support this change. I would like to read just a few of those quotes from some of those individuals.
John McAvity is the executive director of the Canadian Museums Association. He said, “The Museum is developing equal partnerships with other history museums across Canada. ... That is good news.”
A press release from the Ontario Museum Association said that the OMA “...welcomes the initiative to strengthen partnerships among museums in Ontario and across the country.” Marie Lalonde, executive director of the OMA, also said, “...we welcome the opportunity to explore new ways that museums may work with each other.” She added that they look forward to the new direction announced by the government.
To go a little further with a couple of additional quotes, Marie Senécal-Tremblay, the president of the Fédération canadienne des amis des musées, said that this announcement will allow small museums to better showcase their unique collections to many more Canadians and visitors.
Finally, Jack Granatstein, a prominent Canadian historian, said, “This move is exactly what I thought should happen” and “ I'm delighted the government and the museum are doing it.”
This is very clear support for the moves being made by our government, and very clear particularly in relation to the fact that we are looking to share that very vast national collection with museums all across this country. It is important to note that.
Clearly, our commitment to Canada's museums is real and ongoing. In the last fiscal year alone, this government invested approximately $355 million in museums and heritage institutions. Our government has made key investments in the museum sector. This includes support for two new national museums, namely the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax. We have also increased funding for summer internships in small and medium-sized museums. This year, some 1,600 students were hired to work and learn in museums all across the country.
In my riding alone, here are just a few of the examples of many I could name. One is the Peter and Catharine Whyte Foundation, which was able to hire a summer intern to help with its work. Another is the Centennial Museum Society of Canmore. There is also the Luxton Museum Society in Banff National Park, where they have preserved the local first nations history. Those are great examples from my riding of Wild Rose alone.
Now we are embarking on the creation of the Canadian museum of history. In 2017 we will celebrate Canada's 150th birthday, and as we approach that important date, the timing seems right to pause and rethink the way we tell our story to Canadians and visitors from abroad.
Our museums hold the cultural wealth of the nation for all generations, both past, present, and future. Museums play a central role in giving Canadians the resources to celebrate why Canada is such a unique and great country.
Let us all join together to create the national Canadian museum of history as the institution that will capture our lived experiences.
The electoral district of Wild Rose (Alberta) has a population of 115,872 with 90,193 registered voters and 235 polling divisions.
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