History and Priorities

History

In January 2014, members of the Canadian archival community met to discuss its future and envision how Canada’s documentary heritage would respond to future challenges. These discussions occurred through the “Canadian Archives Summit: Towards a New Blueprint for Canada’s Recorded Memory”, which was held on January 17, 2014 at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto. The Summit resulted in a number of recommendations to help guide Canada’s archives.

In September 2014, the Association of Canadian Archivists (ACA), the Association des archivistes du Québec (AAQ), the Canadian Council of Archives, the Council of Provincial and Territorial Archivists (CPTA) and Library and Archives Canada (LAC) met and established the Working Group on Canada’s Archives. Their initial mandate was to serve as a mechanism to advance discussions initiated at the Summit in a way that was strategic, focused on results, and participatory among members of the Canadian archival community.

Over the summer of 2015, the Working Group established a roadmap for collaborative action by members of the Canadian Archival System and the broader community. Consultations occurred over the summer months and feedback and comments were incorporated into a final document.

In November 2015, the Working Group launched the final strategy document entitled Canada’s Archives – A New Blueprint at an event at Library and Archives Canada’s 395 Wellington Street building in Ottawa, Ontario. The strategy lists a number of initiatives that must be undertaken within the next ten years to ensure that the community can better respond to the opportunities and challenges of the digital world. The strategy is  divided into four areas of focus: Records, People, Capacity and Profile. During the launch event, participants were asked to identify the first set of priorities to be accomplished over the next two years through various group discussions and exercises. This feedback was collected and later reviewed.

Additionally, during the launch event, the Working Group announced that it would transition to the Steering Committee on Canada’s Archives, in order to help guide the work ahead.

Priorities

In February 2016, the newly formed Steering Committee on Canada’s Archives met to discuss the community’s feedback from the launch event and select priorities for the next two years. The Steering Committee selected priorities based on input received during various consultations with the Canadian archival community and also also took into consideration the following ideas:

  • The work is timely – there is an urgency to act or respond in a given timeframe.
  • The work ahead is feasible – it is readily attainable with expertise that exists in our community.
  • The work is engaging – many in our community have expressed interest in getting involved.
  • The work is of benefit to a range of community members – small, medium and large institutions; associations and councils; individual archivists and archival workers; educators, etc.
  • The work is expansive – a national approach or higher degree of coordination would be beneficial.

In this context, the following three priorities were selected by the Steering Committee for the first two years:

  1. Workforce
  2. Awareness Strategy
  3. Response to the Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)

Workforce

This priority was selected in order to develop a better understanding of the current and future archives workforce, as well as to explore linkages between archival education programs offered by universities and colleges on one hand, and the challenges experienced by workplace practitioners on the other. It will build on other related efforts undertaken within the Canadian Archival System in the recent years.

Awareness Strategy

This priority was selected in order to focus on ensuring that both the public and decision-makers understand the value and importance of archives. It will explore options for the creation of a national advocacy strategy, including tools that can be used by archives and archivists across Canada.

Response to the Report of the TRC

This priority was selected in order to seek to undertake an analysis of relevant recommendations in the Report, and to create options for a response and related action plan in collaboration with First Nation (including Métis) and Inuit in all areas of Canada.

Other Efforts in Progress

In the course of its discussions, the Steering Committee also identified two other initiatives connected to the strategy that are already underway by groups connected with the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee will link these activities to increase information sharing as these initiatives progress.

  1. Standards Development
  2. Digital Records Management and Infrastructure

Standards Development

The work to revise the Rules for Archival Description is currently underway, led by the CCA’s Canadian Committee on Archival Description. Work on a national accession standard has also begun, with members from LAC, Bibliothèque et archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ), the Royal BC Museum and various universities.

Digital Records Management and Infrastructure

An initiative to develop infrastructure for digital curation is currently underway, via a collaboration led by LAC alongside the Archives of Ontario (AO) and the BAnQ.

In addition to this work, the National, Provincial, Territorial Archivists Conference (NPTAC) has agreed to launch work on born-digital records management, under the leadership of the AO.