The Archives Association of Ontario has joined many colleagues throughout Canada in voicing concern over the decision to close the consultation room and lay off staff at the Musée de la civilisation du Québec in Quebec City, for an undetermined amount of time, effective June 23, 2016. Please see our letter of support below.
The Communications and Advocacy Committee of the AAO is happy to accept any requests for advocacy from AAO members. Please contact Chair, Laura Hallman at firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
July 6, 2016
Luc Fortin, Minister of Culture and Communications
Régis Labeaume, Mayor of Quebec City
Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage
Dear Sirs and Madam:
The Archives Association of Ontario (AAO) is the professional organization representing over 350 archival institutions and archivists in Ontario. As President of the AAO, I am writing to express my concern regarding the recent decision to close the consultation room and lay off staff at the Musée de la civilisation du Québec (MCQ) in Quebec City, for an undetermined amount of time, effective June 23, 2016.
Sir Arthur Doughty, Dominion Archivist at the beginning of the Twentieth Century, said that "... of all national assets, archives are the most precious, they are the gifts of one generation to another and the extent of our care of them marks the extent of our civilization." As we have entered the Twentyfirst Century, please help us ensure that our gifts are not imperiled. Please, raise your voice in support for more funding for the Archives of the Musée de la civilisation du Québec, and help protect our documentary history and heritage with the provision of proper facilities. One of Québec’s mottos is “je me souviens” let us ensure that we continue to have the ability to do so.
The historical archives collection at MCQ is one of the oldest in the country, holding the archives of the Quebec Seminary that began in 1623. The documents held within are critical to anyone interested in understanding Canada’s early history as users can access materials related to New France and the early relationship between the diverse peoples of northeastern North America, Indigenous language documents, and records from the French Empire and the Catholic Church. The collection is also considered important worldwide as it became one of only four documentary heritage collections in the UNESCO Memory of the World Program in 2007.
The AAO calls on Quebec’s Museum of Civilization as well as all levels of government to find a way to maintain access to the collections of Le Centre de référence de l’Amérique francophone with the qualified staff who can share their expertise and experience to preserve and provide access to these invaluable records. The value of these staff members cannot be replaced by digitization. In fact, digitization often increases the desire for physical access.
Preventing access to these records creates a gap in our documentary history that cannot be replaced by digitization alone. The access to the physical records provided by Le Centre de référence de l’Amérique francophone undermines our ability to provide access to our collective historical property. Closing institutions such as this, infringes upon our ability to provide researchers with the materials they need to conduct research and make accurate interpretations of our national history. Furthermore, it hinders our capacity to allow current and future generations to interact with our heritage. Ensuring the appropriate custodianship of these records by qualified professionals is crucial to preserving them as an accurate reflection of our national history and future development. In closing, we urge you to add your voice to the hundreds who have signed a petition, and written letters in support of access to the incredible collection at Le Centre de référence de l’Amérique francophone at the Musée de la civilisation du Québec.
President, Archives Association of Ontario