We'll get started. We have a full agenda today and we have our guests with us. I want to make sure we respect their time and give them a chance to get started.
Welcome, Lisa Prosper. Thank you very much for joining us today.
From the Parks Canada Agency we have Genevieve Charrois, director of cultural heritage policies, and Norman Shields, manager of heritage designation.
We have 10 minutes for each of you, and then we'll move into questioning. I have a little routine where, when you have one minute left, I just hold up the yellow card, and a red card when you are out of time. I don't want you to drop what you're saying, but just wrap it up quickly.
Lisa, the floor is yours.
Thank you very much for the invitation and for this opportunity.
I would like to start by saying that I fully support the comments made at a previous session by Ms. Aird and Ms. Redfern during their session with you on the 28th. I applaud the work that they and the Indigenous Heritage Circle are doing. It's not my intention today to overlap too much with what they have already articulated. Instead, I hope my comments will complement theirs.
I'd like to take this opportunity to focus on the subject of indigenous cultural heritage quite broadly. I tend to be a conceptual thinker. I may be taking you higher than you've gone in previous sessions, but that's just sort of where my head works.
I'd like to start by talking a little about the specificities or the characteristics of what we might call indigenous cultural heritage generally—absolutely respecting that each community will define and express that in their own way, but there are sufficient similarities in distinction to a western notion of cultural heritage that are identifiable.
I would start by saying that there is a general focus on the non-material, so it doesn't typically focus itself on material as built heritage. It often has to do with the performance of cultural practices on the land, so there's an interrelationship between cultural practices and land-based activities. Heritage is often an activity and enactment of land-based activities—for example, narratives and storytelling related to the land, and traditional knowledge associated with travel on the land. Language—the naming of people, the naming of places—is a very integral component to indigenous cultural heritage, as are clothing, tools, and cuisine, all interrelated with the expression of cultural heritage.
Other characteristics are that these are often quotidian sorts of practices rather than the exceptional or the ceremonial. They are that as well, but they are also daily. One of the other features is that they are fundamentally present-based, much more focused on being present-centred. We often think about heritage as about history and about things from our past. It is that as well, but it's a present-centred focus.
I wanted to set that up in distinction to what we are comfortably identifying as heritage practice. That is the identification, protection, and conservation of places of significance, and this activity is core to how we define ourselves through identity construction. It's a way of telling us and future generations something about ourselves and our history as a nation, as a culture, and as a people.
The apparatus that we have in place—not just us, it's the heritage apparatus—is born out of a particular trajectory, and is, in my opinion, ill-equipped to currently address the context of indigenous cultural heritage.
So in order to do that, I think the field generally needs to entertain some fundamental shifts in their thinking, shifts in their concept of what heritage is. One of those shifts, I would say, is scale. I think we need to start thinking from the individual to the broader. One way of doing that is to think about landscape. Landscape is a helpful lens to start to think about how elements are interconnected rather than in their singularity.
I think we need to start thinking about dynamic and living heritage rather than static, and to understand that cultural resiliency is often expressed through adaptation. That's another area in which the presentness of heritage is an important factor.
I think we also need to start to understand the intangible and the ephemeral, and how to somehow understand this relationship between practice and place, not just form and fabric alone but somehow this interconnection between those two things. We need to maybe think about perpetuation alongside conservation so it's not just the act of conserving but also perhaps a focus on perpetuation.
Again, as I mentioned, we need a shift more towards present-centred thinking rather than a focus on the past, and I think also a shift to subject from object. Built heritage is focused on the object. Of course, it understands the story associated with that place, but it starts with object and then moves out. I think maybe we need to think about starting with subject and moving towards object.
I raise that specifically in relation to issues of climate change. There is an effect of climate change that will be affecting cultural heritage and cultural practice profoundly. The change in the movement of herds—caribou, for example, where I am currently living—is a preoccupation. The loss of the movement of caribou, for example, will mean that the traditional knowledge associated with the typical patterns of that caribou herd will change. If there's a loss of language, that will be difficult to communicate. The elders who would have had time on the land as part of their upbringing are passing, so that knowledge is being lost. So there's a shift. There is a relationship between the climate change effects on the natural side of things as it affects the cultural side as well, and we need to keep that in our sights as well.
I think the accommodation of these shifts in thinking requires investment at the intersection of types of heritage. We need to start thinking about where heritage overlaps and how we can invest in understanding and accommodating that better. The current structure is that there's built over here, there's intangible over here, and there's natural over here, and so on and so forth. The full gamut of indigenous cultural heritage spans all of those and interconnects all of those. In order to accommodate it, we're going to have to start thinking about those intersections and overlaps.
We also need to start thinking about notions of cultural sustainability. When we use the word “sustainability”, we can't simply focus on environmental sustainability. Cultural sustainability is a big part of that, and what are those elements? They are the languages, the practices, the places, and the interconnection of those.
I realize that I'm probably not providing you with answers. What I'm really trying to do is encourage you to ask different questions. What are the needs of the communities? What role does heritage play in their well-being and in their prospering? Focus on how heritage is valued and why heritage is valued rather than what is valued, and conversely also the role it plays in cultural well-being and sustainability.
I would caution moving forward with amendments or changes to natural and conservation tools or legislation that entrench an existing paradigm—or at least bear in mind some of these other shifts in thinking.
Madam Chair, members of the committee, thank you for your interest in the conservation and presentation of Canada's cultural heritage.
It is a privilege to be before you today to share some of Parks Canada's knowledge about the commercial heritage properties incentive fund, CHPIF, a contribution program that Parks Canada administered between 2003 and 2006.
The commercial heritage properties incentive fund, known as CHPIF, was one of the key components of the historic places initiative, known as HPI, a federal, provincial, and territorial initiative launched in 2001 to address and foster the conservation of Canada's historic places.
The older components of HPI were, as you've heard, the Canadian register of historic places, which is a pan-Canadian listing of all historic places recognized as having local, provincial, territorial, or national significance; the standards and guidelines for the conservation of historic places, the benchmarks for understanding and conserving built heritage sites; the certification program, a due diligence process to ensure that conservation measures are compliant with the standards and guidelines; and the historic places initiative contributions program.
CHPIF was announced in budget 2003 as a $30-million pilot contribution program to test the demand of the commercial sector for rehabilitation and the effectiveness of HPI's accountability tools.
The CHPIF program was designed specifically to respond to the ongoing and significant loss of heritage properties across Canada by compensating businesses for a portion of the costs incurred in conserving eligible commercial historic places listed on the Canadian Register of Historic Places.
The goals of the program were to: save threatened historic properties from demolition or destruction; preserve historic properties for future generations through proper conservation; and develop new or enhance existing commercial purposes for historic properties.
The contribution program, influenced by the U.S. historic preservation tax incentives, provided contributions to eligible recipients for 20% of the eligible conservation costs for the rehabilitation of an eligible commercial historic place up to a maximum of $1 million, and used the Canadian register of historic places, the standards, guidelines, and certification process to determine eligibility and ensure accountability.
Over the course of the CHPIF, 35 projects were completed with total costs of $143.4 million, and CHPIF contributions representing $14.95 million.
During a formative evaluation of the CHPIF conducted in 2007, it was found that the scope and impact of the CHPIF program were limited by the program admissibility criteria that limited contributions to taxable corporations with commercial projects rather than to commercial projects independent of ownership; the program admissibility criteria, which excluded strata and condominium development; the uncertainty concerning the stability of funding under a three-year program; and the refinement of criteria and procedures typical of a start-up program.
Some often cited obstacles to contribution programs are that they require more than double the time for approvals at the front end of projects, which erodes investor confidence at the time of decision-making. They also have funding caps for annual programs and specific projects that limit the potential for application in urban areas.
Still, the 2007 formative evaluation also concluded that CHPIF demonstrated its ability to engage a broad range of taxable Canadian corporations in proper conservation consistent with national conservation standards and guidelines.
It was demonstrated that the program had generated a number of indirect impacts in the wider economy and in social benefits as evidenced by: provinces and municipalities applying national conservation standards and guidelines to non-CHPIF projects because CHPIF had shown the usefulness and the usability of the standards and guidelines; other contribution programs being developed in parallel by the provinces and territories; many proponents having asked for their property to be designated and/or listed on the Canadian register of historic places in order to be eligible to benefit from the financial incentives of CHPIF; and CHPIF program and certification having developed close working relationships with provincial and municipal authorities.
A subsequent study by Deloitte in 2010 concluded that the CHPIF program resulted in a number of direct measurable impacts or benefits for the commercial heritage properties assisted through the fund, including significant economic growth reflected by increases in building occupancy rates, business-tenant revenues, and property values.
To put numbers to those statements, CHPIF was found to give rise to substantial economic impacts: an average increase of 60% in building occupancy as a result of CHPIF funding; an average increase in business-tenant revenues of $0.3 million; an average increase in property value of $4.16 million; and direct employment impacts of $59.65 million and direct income tax impacts to the magnitude of $19.87 million.
In addition to these quantitative impacts, CHPIF imparted a number of additional qualitative benefits to communities across Canada such as: reinstating and renewing heritage assets into functional and contributing structures; initiating economic development; retaining and utilizing local and regional trade skills; building nationwide awareness and engagement; shaping and preserving a community's and country's identity; enhancing national diversity; building a critical knowledge base; and potentially supporting environmentally sustainable practices.
Thank you. I am happy to answer any questions you may have.
We'll start with the first round of questioning. We might not have time to do the full second round of questioning. We might or we might not. Normally, we would start on the second round and then cut it off when we run out of time because we're going to go into report-writing recommendations.
I'm wondering if you would be accepting...because that leaves Wayne at the very end and not likely to get a chance to ask questions. Would it would be the pleasure of the committee that we would do a second round, if we have to cut it, that would include Wayne? So it would definitely be Conservative, Liberal, and potentially NDP, out of the sequence that we're normally committed to.
Does anybody have a problem with that? I'll be watching the time. If we can fit it in, great, but it looks like we don't have enough time to do a full two rounds. Does anybody have a problem with me being fair to everybody and giving everybody a chance?
Dr. Prosper, your testimony was very thought-provoking. I think you really hit the question that we've been struggling with, or you expanded on it. That is, how do we commemorate indigenous heritage, which is very different from what we've seen in general Canadian society, where, as you said, we're commemorating things from the past as opposed to the present? I wonder how we move forward. One of the things I've been looking at is that the truth and reconciliation report has a recommendation on commemorations. It indicates that one way to move forward is to have indigenous representation included on the historic sites and monuments board. That's probably one mechanism to give a better lens to make sure that we're inclusive.
Is that going to solve the dilemma, the issue, the challenge you've put out to us, or is there something else we need to do? We heard earlier in the week that maybe we need to rethink how we commemorate indigenous history. I really would like your thoughts: how do we move forward on this?
Thank you. I should clarify that I'm not a doctor, although I appreciate the vote of confidence.
In my mind, there is a very broad spectrum on what constitutes heritage, and commemoration is one vehicle or tool or method of one act of heritage. In fact, that's one of the problems. Indigenous cultural heritage has a commemorative component, but it is also very much on the complete other side of that spectrum, which is simply cultural practice. The challenge is what role the federal government plays in enriching or somehow contributing to the sustainability of those cultural practices while understanding that its primary vehicle is commemorative, which is over here.
I would say that in some ways that is a question.... Generally, to echo Madeleine's comments, I would say it's indigenous defined and indigenous led. It's not so much an invitation to have indigenous representation at the table; I think it's a little bit more that they need their own table. There are going to be a lot of conceptual issues but also practical issues that are just going to have to get wrestled with. The solutions are going to have to be discovered over time, and I think co-operatively. The work that the IHC is doing is sort of generating a bottom-up mandate for that community, but I think that community then is going to need someone to speak to in the government, in Parks, for example. I think the renaming of that department indicates an interest in addressing that.
That is an excellent question that would require further consideration. But I can perhaps give you some answers.
Right now, my testimony is more personal than that of a public service employee.
The relationship we had with other entities or governments was working fairly well, and I think that was relatively encouraging. To be able to provide funding to sites that are not the federal government's responsibility, that have designation levels other than federal or national, we have to have the support of the provinces and territories, which also own sites, in general, even if the designations are municipal.
I think that relationship, combined with the great expertise at the Canadian level, was a major success, since we were able to provide conservation standards and practices that were universally acquired in Canada and were shared by everyone. That requires another type of action that only the federal government can take.
I can understand that. Oh, oh!
I now turn to you, Ms. Prosper. We share your opinion when it comes to protecting aboriginal culture within its various components.
I am trying to understand something. You said that you wanted to protect living heritage. We heard from a witness, Mr. Moran, from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, who did not disagree with that proposal, but who added the importance of protecting cemeteries that have been subject to disgraceful behaviour in the past for our young aboriginals.
In a perfect world, we would protect everything and would have ensured that what was done in the past would be preserved to help us know our history and the history of our roots and our country. However, you will understand that we have to choose, since we are not living in a perfect world. We are striving for it, but funding is an important factor that unfortunately requires us to choose.
What is your position when it comes to the non-living heritage and the living heritage you are trying to protect?
This is a question for either of you, perhaps. You've been involved with the funding of heritage in different ways over the years. What's the best way to protect Canada's heritage, moving forward?
My second question is a little more difficult, perhaps. We also have Canadian Heritage, and we sometimes hear that Parks Canada.... I'm a Parks Canada critic for NDP, but an advocate for Parks Canada as a whole. We sometimes hear that Heritage kind of takes second spot to Parks Canada because of the amount of work they have to do and the resources they have to protect across the country from a natural perspective.
What do you think? What's the best way to protect Canadian heritage, going forward? Is Parks Canada the right agency to do it, perhaps with more funding?
I'm going to build on what my colleague just said, but more in terms of Canadian Heritage versus Parks Canada.
I was asked in a previous question if there are other types of funding available, and yes, Canadian Heritage provides funding. Typically Canadian Heritage is more concerned with what I would call the “intangible” piece of heritage. They will sometimes fund infrastructure, but it's going to be through the fact that the place is, for example, an exhibition place. It's about the exhibition place, not so much about the heritage place, per se, that they are interested in.
That's how I can define what the two different departments are doing. One is more on the intangible, and the other one is more with the tangible. Parks Canada is about built heritage and the designation of built heritage.
Ms. Prosper, thank you very much for your testimony this morning. You certainly bring a different perspective.
I want to see if I can understand an existing analogy to express where you're coming from. A year ago we were in Haida Gwaii, and it was very much about place. It was very much about the structures, but encapsulated by the land and the sea, built into that place with the historical structures.
In my own community, the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte are on their traditional hunting grounds, so it's not as much about place necessarily as it is about culture. As far as place goes, the only historic place that they really look to is Christ Church, a church that was built in the 1700s. It's kind of the focal point. But for them, it's more about the powwow, language, art, a new wellness centre, a lacrosse rink, weekend programs in the bush, a sweat lodge. These are the cultural heritage that they have built that is new and existing and that they now use as the expression of themselves and the importance of that expression.
Do I have that right, that this is kind of where you see, from a cultural heritage standpoint, that it doesn't necessarily have to be about place, but it can be expressed and help to make people whole through these expressions?
I have a short list here, which I prepared just in case you asked for some examples.
In New Brunswick, there's the CenterBeam Place, which is half of a corner of a.... It's really a block of buildings downtown. In the same province we have the Hartt Boot and Shoe Factory, an old factory that was refurbished for commercial use.
We have in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, La Fabrique.
That was an old site that was converted into a commercial space with several owners.
Parkdale Fire Station No. 11, here in Ottawa, used to be a fire station but is now a school. They teach cooking.
We contributed to Gooderham and Worts in Toronto.
Ms. Prosper, I listened to your testimony with great interest. I approach culture more from an ecological perspective. I think cultures develop out of the landscapes and ecosystems they inhabit. I think for many of our aboriginal people that's a principle that's fairly well established. I really liked your phrase—I think I got it right—that aboriginal people want to see themselves reflected back in Canadian heritage.
To follow up on Mr. Stetski's questions on first nations tourism, the hunting and guiding industries in Canada employ a lot of aboriginal people. I myself went up to a fishing lodge this summer at Gods Lake, and there were local Cree people as guides. It's a place where they are the authorities and where you listen to them. You may be paying them, and they may be your so-called employees, but when you're on the water with them on a rough lake, you listen to them.
How important are those kinds of activities, and should we work to enhance those?
Okay, I'll go fairly quickly, because I know Mark wants to ask some stuff as well.
Ms. Prosper, I loved your phrase “shifts in thinking”. It reminded me of the Heritage Circle testimony from last week. I'm guilty of thinking of heritage as bricks and mortar. I think many people are when we think of that topic, so “shifts in thinking” struck home.
We know that indigenous artifacts are stored through Parks Canada at laboratories run by Parks Canada. There's one such one in Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, my riding. How can we better work with our indigenous peoples through the spirit of reconciliation to preserve what matters to them most and to ensure that, when those artifacts are protected, they're more readily available to indigenous peoples?
These artifacts that are stored in Parks Canada facilities across the country are not really open to the public. I think you can make an appointment and come in and see these things, but those artifacts that belong to indigenous Canadians aren't really readily available to the public. How can we, as a government, move towards making sure that those indigenous artifacts can be accessed?
I want to thank you very much for being here today. As you can see, we're really grappling with how to make things better and how to properly respect indigenous heritage.
There were a couple of questions. One was asking if we could get what worked and what didn't work out of that CHPIF program, because we really want to understand what we can do with any recommendation there.
Concrete recommendations from you, Ms. Prosper, about what we can do to be more respectful and move that initiative forward would be extremely helpful. We're moving into the report-writing stage now, so we don't have a lot of time to get that. I know that our analysts will be anxious to get it as soon as you're able. That would be fantastic.
Again, thank you from all of us for being here and sharing your wisdom with us.
I'll suspend for a few minutes and then we will move in camera.
[Proceedings continue in camera]