The practice of cultural heritage preservation is as diverse as heritage itself. The Youth in Heritage program showcased that diversity by supporting the work of organisations and people around the country whose skills, expertise and dedication have maintained the identities of our communities vibrant.
From nonprofits to businesses, from small towns to our largest cities, the program has extended its reach far and wide to help mentors pass their knowledge to young people and emerging professionals. Skills such as traditional boat building in Newfoundland, smithery in Quebec, heritage planning in Ontario, archiving in Alberta, pottery making in British Columbia, etc. have benefited from this funding to keep the traditions alive, preserve heritage places, and contribute to many communities’ resilience.
The Youth in Heritage program has been particularly effective at reaching out to underrepresented groups in heritage preservation, in particular Indigenous, Black-Canadian, and newcomers. Too often, heritage preservation is perceived as being in the interest of certain communities. And yet, what the candidates have demonstrated is that heritage is important to everyone, in order to learn about the past, but as importantly, to sustain pride, instil confidence, and build a stronger future.
In fact, heritage preservation is about the future. These young and emerging professionals, through such programs as Youth in Heritage, are acquiring the building blocks of sustainable communities. As the United Nations New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals have already recognized, inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and human settlements require the preservation of cultural heritage. This program has contributed to making our communities stronger and more sustainable.
ICOMOS Canada is grateful for Park Canada’s investment in this program and for the strong partnerships with other organisations that have made it possible to have a positive impact on the heritage sector and on youth. It was a demonstration that the need and the opportunity are there to make a difference in the lives of people across the country while strengthening our communities. We hope that more youths will get a chance to discover a passion for cultural heritage through the continuation of Youth in Heritage in 2022.
Christophe Rivet, Ph.D
President, ICOMOS Canada