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Historica Canada is the country's largest organization dedicated to enhancing awareness of Canadian history and citizenship. All of its programs are offered bilingually and reach more than eight million Canadians annually.
A registered national charitable organization, Historica Canada is the product of a 2009 merger of two existing groups – the Historica Foundation of Canada and The Dominion Institute.
Following the merger, the organization was known as The Historica-Dominion Institute until it changed to its present name in September 2013. While Historica Canada’s headquarters are in Toronto, it also operates the Ottawa-based Encounters with Canada youth program, and staff regularly travel across the country to meet participants and facilitate programming. At present, the Chair of the organization is Toronto businessman Stephen Smith, while Anthony Wilson-Smith has been President and Chief Executive Officer since September, 2012. Other members of the Board of Directors include some of Canada's most prominent citizens, such as Chair Emeritus Avie Bennett – a Companion of the Order of Canada; businessman and philanthropist Charles Bronfman; and comedian and social commentator Rick Mercer.
Some of the organizations best-known programs include its collection of more than 80 Heritage Minutes – 60 second vignettes re-enacting important and remarkable incidents in Canada's history – and The Canadian Encyclopedia, the only known national encyclopedia of its nature in the Western world.
Aboriginal Arts & Stories
Aboriginal Arts & Stories invites First Nations, Métis, and Inuit artists aged 11 to 29 to interpret an aspect of their culture and heritage through literary and visual arts. 2010-2011 is the first year the contest expanded to accept arts submissions, after six years as exclusively a writing competition.
A jury of accomplished Aboriginal authors, artists, and community leaders select the winning submissions, including Drew Hayden Taylor, Kent Monkman and Lee Maracle. Honorary Patrons of the program include Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Terry Audla, and Métis National Council President Clément Chartier.
The contest was born out of the book "Our Story," a joint project of the Dominion Institute and Doubleday Canada. Our Story is a short story compilation that brings together nine leading Aboriginal authors including Thomas King, Tomson Highway and Tantoo Cardinal. To date, more than 2,500 youth have participated in the Aboriginal Arts & Stories program.
The Citizenship Challenge has tested the knowledge of more than 200,000 Canadians since 2010. Participants study for and write a citizenship exam, based on the version taken by actual citizenship applicants. Students can win a number of prizes, including the grand prize all-expenses-paid trip to Ottawa, and classrooms can win a citizenship celebration.
The Canadian Encyclopedia
The Canadian Encyclopedia, a free bilingual online resource, offers the largest collection of authored, accurate, and continuously updated articles focused on Canada and Canadiana. To date, the Encyclopedia’s collection contains more than 19,000 bilingual articles by some 5,000 authors including Margaret Atwood, David Suzuki and Marc Laurendeau. The Encyclopedia is updated on a daily basis. In addition to updates, the Encyclopedia's staff of eight full-time editors regularly write and commission new articles.
Encounters With Canada
Encounters with Canada is Canada’s largest youth forum. The program brings more than 100 Canadian youth aged 14 to 17 to Ottawa each week during the school year to participate in themed weeks, to discover Canada and to explore various career pathways. More than 100,000 youth have participated in the program.
Heritage Minutes recreate events of great importance, accomplishment, and bravery in Canada's history. The Minutes were created by The CRB Foundation in 1991 and re-launched by Historica Canada in 2012. Nationally known – especially to a generation of young Canadians who grew up watching them – The Minutes themselves are true to the description, "A part of our heritage". Over the years, they have featured appearances by some of Canada's best-known actors, including Colm Feore, Dan Aykroyd, Jean l'Italien, and Kate Nelligan.
The Memory Project
The Memory Project invites veterans and Canadian Forces members to share their military experience with fellow Canadians, young and old. Through the speakers bureau, 1500 World War II, Korean War and Canadian Forces veterans and currently serving members visit local schools and community groups to share their stories of service and sacrifice. The Memory Project Digital Archive is an extensive online collection of the oral histories and personal memorabilia of the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces. The Archive provides more than 3,000 firsthand stories and 1,500 original artifacts (photos, letters and memorabilia) that chronicle Canada's military heritage. Through the online archive and speakers bureau, The Memory Project has reached more than 1.5 million Canadians.
Passages Canada is a national storytelling initiative that invites newcomers and established Canadians to share their personal experiences of identity, heritage, and immigration with groups of all ages. More than 1,000 volunteers are part of the Passages Canada Speakers' Bureau. These speakers visit schools and community groups across the country to nurture cross-cultural dialogue.
The Passages Canada Digital Archive presents a portrait of the life experience of the members of the Passages Canada Speakers' Bureau through multilingual interviews and original artifacts (photos, letters and memorabilia) that recount their personal journeys to Canada.
Historica Canada produces a number of learning tools for educators and students. Some examples include: The Black History in Canada Education Guide, grounded in Lawrence Hill's historical fiction novel The Book of Negroes; Sir John A. Macdonald and Confederation learning tools for junior and senior levels, as part of the Stories of Sir John A. program; four guides focused on different aspects of the War of 1812 including the role of Aboriginal peoples and the importance of borders and geography; Canada at War learning tools examine the legacy of both the First and Second World Wars.
Historica Canada also provides some of its content to the public through iTunes University, where users can browse materials organized in course collections along themes such as Women in Canadian History and Asian-Canadian History.
Board of Directors
- Alison Faulknor
- Director of New Initiatives, The National Trust for Canada
- Ann Dadson
- Former President, Historica Canada
- Arni C. Thorsteinson, CFA
- President, Shelter Canadian Properties Ltd.
- Avie Bennett, C.C., O.Ont.
- Chancellor Emeritus York University and Chair Emeritus Historica Canada
- Daniel R. Woolf, FRSC
- Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Queen’s University
- Duncan Jackman
- Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, E-L Financial Corp.
- L. Yves Fortier, PC, CC, OQ, QC
- International arbitrator, Cabinet Yves Fortier
- Lynton R. (Red) Wilson, O.C.
- Chairman of CAE Inc. and Chancellor of McMaster University
- Richard Rooney, FCA, CFA
- President and Chief Investment Officer, Burgundy Asset Management
- Rick Mercer
- Host, The Rick Mercer Report
- The Honourable Charles R. Bronfman, P.C., C.C.
- Chairman, The Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies; and former Co-Chairman of The Seagram Company Ltd.
- The Honourable Michael Chong, P.C.
- M.P. Wellington-Halton Hills
- The Honourable Myra A. Freeman, C.M., O.N.S.
- Former Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia
- Thomas Edward Kierans
- OC., LL.D., M.B.A., ICD.F
- Trina McQueen, O.C.
- President, Hutton-Belleville Inc.
- "About Historica Canada". Historica Canada. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
- "Historica-Dominion Institute renamed Historica Canada". Historica Canada. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
- "Aboriginal Arts & Stories". Aboriginal Arts & Stories. Historica Canada. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
- "Citizenship Challenge". Citizenship Challenge. Historica Canada. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
- "The Canadian Encyclopedia". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Canada. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
- The Memory Project. Retrieved 2007-08-10.