Parks Canada not only protects Canada’s many ecosystems and species, but also preserves the cultural heritage of the many different people living within its borders. The Inclusive Commemorations Initiative (ICI) is part of important steps that Parks Canada is taking to highlight the diverse narratives that shape the country’s past and present.
For the Initiative, Parks Canada is engaging racialized communities to identify opportunities for commemoration, with the objective of making the National Program of Historical Commemoration more inclusive.
The objectives of the Initiative are to generate new nominations for the National Program of Historical Commemoration, increase awareness of the program, build relationships, and involve communities in improving how diversity is reflected in telling and commemorating history in Canada.In delivering the Initiative, Parks Canada is working collaboratively with communities towards a new way of sharing history at Parks Canada’s heritage places — one which includes diverse voices, presents multiple perspectives and inspires conversations about Canada’s past, present and future.
The Inclusive Commemorations Initiative concluded a series of five virtual engagement sessions over the course of January, February and March 2022. Each session ran 2.5 hours, and included approximately 10-15 people. A total of 57 invited participants had the opportunity to present their ideas for new nominations, share their commemoration experiences and perspectives, and discuss the National Program of Historical Commemoration.
Here are examples of questions discussed in the engagement sessions:
- What are some examples of historical commemoration and related work you have been involved with?
- What are some of your ideas for new nominations for the National Program for Historical Commemoration?
- What do you think of the Program, and how do you think it can be more inclusive?
- What are some examples or ideas for innovative and engaging commemoration?
National Program of Historical Commemoration
Parks Canada provides services to support the work of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. The Board advises the Government of Canada on the designation of places, persons and events that have marked and shaped the country. The participation of Canadians in identifying places, persons and events of national historic significance and in their commemoration is a key element of the program. In fact, 95% of applications for designation presented to the Board are submitted by Canadian individuals and groups.
During the nomination process, Parks Canada assists members of the public, groups, or organizations with research and support. Once a designation happens, it also works with communities to develop a commemorative plaque and organize an unveiling ceremony.
Directory of Federal Heritage Designations
The Directory of Federal Heritage Designations offers a complete list of federal designations stemming from various programs. It includes information on districts, buildings, events, railway stations, lighthouses and people who are of historic value or interest. The Directory lists over 3,600 designations.
Designations reflect the complexity of changing perspectives to history. Any aspect of Canada’s history may be proposed for federal designation of national historic significance. To be considered, a person, event, or site has to have had a nationally significant impact on Canadian history, or illustrate a nationally important aspect of Canada’s history.
Parks Canada traditionally commemorates historical places, persons and events with bronze plaques. These plaques are appreciated by Canadians who wish to recognize some aspect of national history and those who stop to read them. As well, there is a commitment to understanding how new forms of commemoration provide opportunities to expand the reach of designations and the ways in which history is remembered and shared.
In order to be considered eligible for designation, events, persons and sites must meet the following criteria:
- Events must have occurred at least 40 years ago.
- Persons must be deceased for at least 25 years (except for prime ministers, who are eligible once they are deceased).
- Sites must be 40 years of age or older, have written permission from the property owner, and be in a condition that respects the integrity of its essential elements, such as design and materials.
While celebratory achievements in Canadian history are eligible for consideration, so are those events, persons and sites that may be considered tragic, shameful or unjust. The goal of designation is to present a history of Canada that is representative, inclusive, and reflective of diverse views on the past.
To submit a nomination, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and
- Provide your full name, address, email address and telephone and fax numbers (if available).
- Identify whether you are nominating a site, person or event.
- Indicate important dates (such as the date that a building was constructed and altered, the date of birth and death of a person, or the dates of an event).
- For sites, provide the street address of the property or the geographical coordinates and the permission of the property owner.
- Attach any suggestions for research that may include historical sources, photograph collections, documents, bibliographic references, and contact persons (please provide names, addresses and telephone numbers).
- Mention any other existing evaluations, studies or heritage designations (including municipal, territorial or provincial designations).
- For more information about the nomination process, visit the
National Program of Historical Commemoration website.