8. Additional HSMBC Direction

The following topics are addressed in Board Minutes but do not appear as formal guidelines. These directions inform eligibility and the writing of submission reports.

8.1 Guidelines for the Preparation of Submission Reports on Subjects Associated with the History of Aboriginal Peoples

In February 1990, the Board recommended that

  • sites of spiritual and/or cultural importance to Aboriginal peoples, generally, should be considered to be eligible for designation as national historic sites even when no tangible cultural resources exist providing that there is evidence, garnered through oral history, or otherwise, that such sites are indeed seen to have special meaning to the culture in question and that the sites themselves are fixed in space.

The Board emphasized, however, that specific guidelines with respect to the treatment of such sites of cultural or spiritual significance to Aboriginal peoples would have to be developed and articulated over time.
Guidelines for the Preparation of Submission Reports on Subjects Associated with the History of Aboriginal Peoples (1998) were prepared in response to this request, as were the Aboriginal Cultural Landscape Guidelines and Oral History Guiding Principles [see sections 3.18 and 7.8].

In addition to the information required for a typical submission report when dealing with Indigenous history topics the Board (1998) recognized that submission reports include the following:

Cultural Context

  • Which Aboriginal group or nation is represented by the people making the nomination?
  • Of which Aboriginal language family are they part and how are they related to the other Aboriginal groups or nations within the language family?
  • What is the political history of the development of the group or nation, as identified today?

Historical Context (Oral and Documentary)

  • What is the history of the Aboriginal group or nation?
  • How are they identified in the oral traditions and in the documentary record?

Geographical Context

  • With what geographic area is the Aboriginal group or nation currently associated?
  • What is their traditional territory?
  • What is the natural and cultural landscape of their traditional territory? Describe their relationship to the land and water.

Consultation Process

  • What was the nature and scope of the consultation process within the Aboriginal community?
  • How were Elders views taken into account in the consultation?

The Site

  • Where is the site?
  • Describe its geographical coordinates and extent, and outline the boundaries.
  • Who is the current land owner? Are there any unresolved issues related to land ownership?
  • Describe the site and its cultural resources.
  • Describe the history of the occupation and use of the site.
  • Describe the site's condition and identify any threats to the site.
  • What oral histories and traditions are associated with the site?
  • Describe the values of the site, symbolic, spiritual and physical. What are the qualities of the site that define its sense of place?
  • What does the site represent in terms of the history and cultural landscape of the Aboriginal group or nation?
  • What other similar sites exist within the traditional territory of the Aboriginal group or nation and how do they compare with this site?
  • What is it about this site that makes it important for all Canadians to learn about it?

8.2 Comparative Assessment using Indigenous Language Groups

Between 1997 and 1999 the Board looked at the question of national historic significance as it relates to the commemoration of persons, events and sites associated with Indigenous Peoples’ history, noting the requirement for a systematic and comprehensive approach. At the root of the matter was how to fairly consider this history in a national perspective given Indigenous presence over thousands of years and the many distinct language and culture groups.

Similar analysis was undertaken to address pre-Confederation persons and events [see section 5.2].

As a result, in a submission report for the HSMBC, a comparative context is provided using the Indigenous nation’s own language group as the basis for considering historic significance.

In general, the language groups are the 60 identified in the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) (1991).  

In their discussion on Chief John Assance, the Coldwater Settlement and Beausoleil Island (July 2007), the Board reaffirmed this approach

adding that the Ojibway language group is large and diverse, with over 40 Ojibway speaking First Nations in Ontario living today in much of the central and northern portions of the province. [Board members] felt that the appropriate level of consideration should be southwest Ontario.

8.3 Designation of Transportation Routes as Events

In June 2001

the Board advised that any transport routes not owned and administered by Parks Canada and identified in the appendices [of submission report 2001-A02] will continue to be treated as events and other phenomena for purposes of policy.

The conclusion of this direction is that transportation routes are generally eligible to be considered as national historic events and not as sites. The exception is when they are owned and administered by Parks Canada. The rationale for this direction is based on the complexity of establishing clear boundaries defining the limits of extensive transportation routes.

Subsequent to this recommendation the Board, through the Status of Designations Committee, has confirmed this policy by reviewing national historic commemorations that were identified in the 2001 report as requiring further consideration.

8.4 Moved Buildings

The general guideline on integrity speaks to moved buildings in relation to places (see Section 2).

Moved buildings may be considered eligible for commemoration. In December 2004, the Board accepted the following as guidance:

  • The determination of the historic value of a site is a critical first step for deciding whether or not a moved building may be eligible for consideration as (part of) a national historic site.
  • Generally, moved buildings may possess historic value in two situations:
    1. In the first situation, the historic value of a moved building may reside in the actual act of moving the building.
    2. In the second situation, if a building has been moved from its former location, and that location and/or setting was unimportant to its historic value, then that building likely still possesses the ability to convey its historic significance. Because its historic value is not associated with its former setting or place, it may merit consideration as a potential national historic site. Thus, a move can actually add historic value to a building, or it can be neutral to historic value (especially if the move took place before a building accrued its historic value) or it can destroy historic value.

8.5 Leaders of Ethnocultural Communities

In December 2009, the Committee and the Board considered a proposed methodology for the assessment of leaders of ethnocultural communities. They adopted the methodology and agreed with an approach that will provide a comparative assessment, in a comparative context that will:

  • situate the individual in his/her ethnocultural community’s pantheon of leaders;
  • compare and contrast the individual with other members of ethnocultural communities who engaged in similar occupations while vying for similar group goals; and
  • compare and contrast the nominee to relevant HSMBC designations.