PRESS RELEASE: ICOMOS Canada launches the Youth in Heritage program to support the next generation of cultural heritage practitioners

RELEASE DATE: December 7th, 2021

ICOMOS Canada (the Canadian National Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites), in partnership with Parks Canada, announced the launch of the Youth in Heritage program, an employment and mentorship initiative connecting employers to the next generation of cultural heritage practitioners. The program brings together cultural heritage professionals and young people between the ages of 15-30 to gain meaningful experience in cultural heritage conservation.

The Youth in Heritage program creates employment, mentorship and career pathways for youth across Canada. It allows the sharing of knowledge between disciplines by encouraging youth interested in heritage, climate change, cultural diversity, and sustainable development to explore career opportunities in the cultural heritage sector. 

With the financial support of the Government of Canada’s Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (YESS) program, ICOMOS Canada is currently offering wage subsidies for new and existing employees, apprentices or interns working in the cultural heritage sector. The Youth in Heritage program is also Canada’s first cultural heritage job portal.

In achieving these goals, ICOMOS Canada is proud to collaborate with CAHP (Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals) and CMAQ (Conseil des métiers d’art du Québec), two of the leading cultural heritage organizations supporting heritage professionals in Canada. These organizations are actively involved in securing partnerships with mentors to provide meaningful training to young people. As Julien Silvestre, Executive Director of CMAQ, says, “we need to trust our youth, their ideas and their new way of doing things to take us further as a society. Our heritage sector has that necessary openness.” Chris Uchiyama, CAHP President, adds, “it is important for our sector to open paths for youth and emerging professionals from diverse backgrounds who may not have considered a career in the heritage sector before. This work experience will also be key to increasing the capacity of the heritage field which has an important role to play in creating the sustainable and liveable communities of the future through conservation of existing places.

Speaking of the importance of this program, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, says “Cultural resources connect us with the places, persons and events that have shaped history in Canada, and protecting these irreplaceable touchstones takes on new significance as climate change impacts our built and archaeological heritage. By collaborating with ICOMOS Canada to provide youth with meaningful opportunities to learn and train with seasoned cultural heritage mentors, the Government of Canada is ensuring that future generations of Canadians will be able to discover, celebrate and connect with the rich and varied stories that tell us about who we are.”

Cultural heritage embodies millennia of lived experiences and practices that have created our familiar human shaped environments and ensure its sustainability into the future. Based on the ICOMOS policy paper entitled Heritage and the Sustainable Development Goals: Policy Guidance for Heritage and Development Actors, this project brings cultural heritage within the framework of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by diversifying the cultural heritage sector, by ensuring that new expertise and fields of knowledge sustain the sector, and by providing quality education opportunities to youth. The program further demonstrates that cultural heritage is a platform for economic revitalization, development, and growth.

“Cultural heritage is about the future. Investing in training, youth and knowledge-sharing is critical to prepare for climate change and envision a sustainable future for communities across Canada. This program sets the stage for the next generation of practitioners in cultural heritage to become leaders in sustainability and climate change adaptation,” says Christophe Rivet, ICOMOS Canada President.

ICOMOS Canada is accepting wage subsidy applications until March 2022.

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Stephane L. Pressault
Executive Director