Introduction

The Framework for History and Commemoration: National Historic Sites System Plan 2019 is currently being developed. The Parks Canada Agency Act requires that Parks Canada have “long-term plans in place for establishing systems of national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas.” The Framework for History and Commemoration replaces Parks Canada’s previous system plan that was approved in 2000. The Agency provided the public and stakeholders the opportunity to give their opinion on this new document. The public consultation was held from March 14 to April 14, 2019.

Objectives

  • Create awareness among Canadians about the approach and objectives proposed for the new system plan for national historic sites.
  • Collect views and comments from the public and stakeholders to allow Parks Canada to improve and adjust the new system plan for national historic sites.

Consultation Process

The document was posted on the Consulting with Canadians website. The public was invited to read the document, and provide comments and suggestions by completing an online survey that was available from March 14-March 25, 2019. This survey consisted of a questionnaire and comments form. Additionally, the document was available for consultation from March 14-April 14, 2019, and the public was invited to send comments via email or through post.

Parks Canada issued a news release about the consultation which was distributed nationally. It also promoted the consultation through its official Twitter and Facebook accounts, and encouraged Parks Canada’s regional offices to promote the consultation through their Twitter and Facebook accounts. 

Parks Canada sent letters and emails about the consultation to the presidents of the three national Indigenous organizations: the Assembly of First Nations, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and the Métis National Council. Emails about the consultation and a link to the news release were sent to stakeholders in the cultural heritage field, federal, provincial, and territorial staff working in cultural heritage, and Indigenous Peoples who have participated in the Agency’s previous consultations.

Consultation Results

The online survey included 11 questions that allowed respondents to share their comments on the Framework for History and Commemoration. Of those 11 questions, 7 asked yes or no questions, and 4 were open-ended questions that allowed for a written response. Respondents could answer as many or as few questions as they wished. Therefore, the response rate for each question varied. 86 people responded to the survey. Of those, 32 left comments for at least one question. In addition, 8 respondents sent an email to Parks Canada about the Framework for History and Commemoration.

What We Heard  

The survey questions focused on the central elements of the Framework for History and Commemoration: Principles, Strategic Priorities, Key Practices, and Annex. This report uses these elements to categorize information. People could send comments pertaining to any or all parts of the framework through email and by mail, and their suggestions are reflected in this report.

Principles

Respondents are overwhelmingly in favour of the three principles that define all of Parks Canada’s history projects. These principles, which are explained in the Framework for History and Commemoration, are Integrity, Inclusiveness, and Relevance. 91.8% of respondents agree that these principles are important. Further, 74.1% of respondents would not suggest the addition of other principles.

Strategic Priorities

Respondents are in favour of the four strategic priorities for history at Parks Canada.
87.3% of respondents agree that the History of Indigenous Peoples should be a priority. 82.8% agree that Environmental History should be a priority. 85.9% agree that Diversity should be a priority. Finally, 74.6% agree that Canada and the World should be a priority. 30.2% of respondents left additional comments or suggestions about the strategic priorities.

Key Practices

Feedback received through the online survey reveals overwhelming support for the key practices for public history. 92.2% of online survey respondents support use of these practices. Several respondents noted that the key practices were important and ambitious, and that they could encourage important exchanges and conversations at heritage places. Respondents to the online survey recognized the central role that the key practices for public history could play in expanding interpretation at Parks Canada’s heritage sites. Share Authority, key practice #5, was identified by several respondents as an important key practice for public history, with some suggesting approaches of how this practice can be implemented.

Annex

Feedback received about the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada’s review of existing designations revealed that the public approves of this approach. Online survey feedback shows that 88.1% of respondents support the Annex’s three guidelines outlining the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada’s approach to addressing the careful review of existing designations. Further, respondents were pleased to see Parks Canada addressing this issue, and supported the concept of review of existing designations. Some respondents noted the importance of the third guideline and agreed that existing designations should not be erased. Some respondents noted that it was important to understand the context in which past designations were made. Feedback also expressed a desire for more information about how the guidelines would be implemented in practice.

Conclusion

As a whole, those who participated in the consultation are in favour of the principles, strategic priorities, key practices, and Annex. Parks Canada would like to thank all the respondents who participated in the consultation. This public input will contribute to enhancing Parks Canada’s new system plan for national historic sites.