ICOMOS Canada‘s work covers a wide span of interests for professionals, governments and researchers. Beginning in 2016, the organization will invest resources in three thematic priorities. These are broad societal issues that are key to thinking about the development of best practices for the conservation of cultural heritage. They offer the opportunity to tackle relevant issues for Canadians by inviting partnerships with new organisations that share an interest in those themes. This is an invitation to the membership and to interested parties to explore these themes through various means and propose projects to the Board for consideration.
Cultural heritage is impacted by climate change. Catastrophic events such as wildfires, hurricanes, floods will have an immediate impact and will often trigger emergency responses that may themselves also affect cultural heritage. More gradual impacts such as rising sea levels and changing ecosystems may over time irreparably impact landscapes, archaeological sites, and infrastructure.
Climate change can also impact cultural heritage indirectly. Various measures promoted and implemented by governments, corporations, and individuals to mitigate the effects of climate change, such as limiting greenhouse gas emissions and building green infrastructure, will negatively affect built heritage and landscapes.
The theme captures the breadth of cultural heritage related issues with climate change through various perspectives. Many ICOMOS International Scientific Committees (ISC) are tackling the issue, including one on Energy and Sustainability and one on Risk Preparedness. Similarly, other national committees and the international secretariat are actively involved in these questions.
ICOMOS Canada encourages activities and projects that contribute to this theme that are multi-disciplinary. The aim is to lead to better conservation approaches for cultural heritage in response to the changes as well as to offer guidance for the government initiatives that address climate change.
Cultural landscapes are about the relationship between nature and culture as well as the diversity of geographies and cultural expressions in Canada.
The theme is broad in exploring the many facets of cultural landscapes including rural and urban expressions of cultural landscapes, their economic and social components, the conservation of the relationships between different components of landscapes, the conservation of ecosystems, and the diversity of cultural values. The ICOMOS international scientific committee on cultural landscapes has been leading the work for the organisation, however a number of other ISCs have addressed aspects of this including archaeological heritage management, cultural tourism and cultural routes.
Current activities in Canada include the ICOMOS Canada‘s national conversation on cultural landscapes.
The aim is to influence the development of approaches to conserving natural and cultural heritage as well as provide perspectives on holistic conservation approaches to landscapes.
With the submission of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in December 2015, Canada is provided with a call to action on a number of priorities, including museums and commemoration. ICOMOS Canada has noted the need to address the representation of Aboriginal perspectives in defining and conserving cultural heritage in Canada. The organisation aspires to understand, respect, and include indigenous perspectives in the definition of best practices for the conservation of cultural heritage in Canada.
As such, ICOMOS Canada is interested in engaging Aboriginal peoples, through individuals and organizations, to:
- find a path forward towards articulating a definition of cultural heritage that reflects Aboriginal peoples’ perspectives and values,
- outline practices that ensure the conservation of that heritage,
- understand the relationship between environmental conservation and cultural identity, and
- understand the types of pressures experienced by Aboriginal heritage.
Other national committees have made specific commitments to engage the indigenous peoples in their countries, such as ICOMOS Australia and ICOMOS New Zealand. Indigenous perspectives are considered in the work of ISCs, including the polar heritage committee the cultural routes and the archaeological heritage management.
The aim is to incorporate those perspectives in a general framework of conservation of cultural heritage in Canada.