The CHA writes to Minister Moore to express its opposition to the budget cuts to LAC
14 May 2012
The Honourable James Moore
Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
The Canadian Historical Association is dismayed to learn of the recent cuts to professional archival staff and other specialists engaged in conserving and making available our national archival heritage for the benefit of all Canadians. We are particularly concerned that nearly half of the archivists devoted to private, that is, non-governmental records, are being laid off. In our efforts to document the history of Canada, professional historians, like other serious users of archives, rely heavily on the expert advice provided by Library and Archives Canada and its specialists.
We cannot document our shared history if the expert advisors we depend upon are not there to understand and prepare useful documentation on the important collections we need to consult. If Library and Archives Canada does not maintain sufficient staffing resources in non-governmental records and special media collections, then it cannot continue to acquire and grant access to records of national importance and will not be able to meet its key legislated mandate.
We note that in your statement to the House of Commons on 8 May you stated that Library and Archives Canada would be able to meet its commitments through the use of new technologies. With respect, new technologies cannot substitute expert staff. For archives to work, professional archivists must research, analyse, and describe collections so that historians and other users can find and understand the materials they rely upon to write our collective history. Otherwise, the collections would remain mute, and their insights would be denied to society and our need to understand ourselves.
Such cuts are all the more troubling in the lead up to Canada's 150th anniversary as those celebrations will be hampered and shadowed by budgetary shackling of the keeper of our history. A country without a shared memory is a country without an identity. We urge you to reconsider the budgetary cuts to Library and Archives Canada and attendant cuts to archival staff. Further, we request your agreement to meet with our representatives to discuss this important matter bearing upon the future of Canada's heritage and culture.
Canadian Historical Association
On behalf of the CHA Executive:
Lyle Dick, President
Mary Lynn Stewart, Outgoing President
James Opp, Treasurer
Amber Lloydlangston, English-language Secretary
Martin Laberge, French-language Secretary
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