The Harper government placed the fiscal equivalent of a well-polished apple on the desks of history teachers across Canada Tuesday, announcing $12-million in funding for promoting learning about this country’s past.
The Conservatives, who have courted controversy by refocusing cultural spending to promote Canadian history, announced they are creating a new annual history award for high school students and teachers who demonstrate excellence on the topic. Up to 225 students and as many as 30 teachers will receive $1,000 and $2,000 respectively.
The awards will be administered by Canada’s History, an independent national organization.
The government announced it’s also funding the creation of two new Heritage Minutes – the video clips promoting Canadian history – through the Historica-Dominion Institute and increasing support for the Dictionary of Canadian Biography and The Canadian Encyclopedia.
All of these initiatives will be funded by the new Canada History Fund which will disburse $4.3-million this year and rise to $6.3-million per year starting in 2014-15.
“Canadians want to know more about our history, and these new measures will make our history more accessible to all Canadians, particularly our youth,” Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore said in a statement.
“This is especially important as we approach Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017.”
The Harper government has drawn flak for its decision to rename and refocus the landmark Canadian Museum of Civilization – transforming it into the Canadian Museum of History.
John McAvity, executive director of the Canadian Museums Association, said the measures will help bring Canada’s history alive.
“Canadian history is all around us. However it is rarely taught in schools; it is not seen, not heard, and is forgotten by most Canadians,” Mr. McAvity said in a statement.
Other measures include:
Five existing programs at Canadian Heritage will be strengthened:
- The Exchanges Canada Program – which encourages young Canadians to take part in history-themed events, will get $3.6-million per year.
- The Canada Book Fund, which will promote Canadian history titles, will receive up to $200,000 per year.
- The Canada Periodical Fund will receive up to $375,000 a year to support history magazine and content.
- The Museums Assistance program will help institutions create and share history exhibits is receiving up to $1-million annually.
- The Virtual Museum of Canada, which will fund exhibits and projects regarding key historical milestones, will receive up to $500,000 per year.