What is Remembering Ottawa: Stories and Legacies?

    Remembering Ottawa: Stories and Legacies is a project led by the City of Ottawa’s Cultural Development and Initiatives Unit that will result in the development of an updated, comprehensive, over-arching municipal commemoration policy for the City of Ottawa by the fall of 2022.

    Why is a new municipal commemoration policy being developed?

    The municipal commemoration policy project responds to a recommended action in the Council-approved Renewed Action Plan for Arts, Heritage and Culture in Ottawa (2013-2018). The recommendation is to develop and implement a municipal commemoration and naming policy that is:

    • overseen by an arms-length advisory body composed of citizens and heritage authorities; 
    • nurtures citizen and community engagement; 
    • enables the recognition and celebration of Ottawa’s distinct, unique and cultural histories, places, people and events; and
    • identifies adequate resources for implementation. 

    What is the objective of the new municipal commemoration policy project?

    The objective of the project is to draft an updated, comprehensive, fair and effective municipal commemoration policy for the City of Ottawa that can guide municipal commemoration programs and activities, and that is also appropriate to Ottawa’s position as Canada’s national capital. The project aims to engage the rich diversity of Ottawa’s residents, cultures and communities.

    What will the new policy contain?

    The policy will outline a set of criteria governing the commemoration of people, places, events, heritages and cultural elements (a) in the geographical domain of the City of Ottawa or (b) outside of the geographical domain of the City of Ottawa but affecting Ottawa land, people or cultures. The policy will also contain methods to resolve issues related to difficult commemoration. 

    Commemorative practices on federal lands in Ottawa will be out of scope of this municipal policy. Furthermore, the policy development phase will not include a case-by-case modification of past commemoration activities. Policy implementation will be launched following City Council deliberation and direction, the final step of this project.

    Who is developing the new policy?

    The policy development is being led by the Cultural Development and Initiatives Unit of the City of Ottawa’s Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services Department in strategic cultural partnership with cultural organizations in Ottawa.

    A representative Municipal Commemoration Policy Advisory Group is guiding the development of the policy and will help to engage the public throughout the project.

    A Project Secretariat composed of two City staff (a project lead and project specialist) and a young, emerging heritage professional is responsible for managing the project.

    What is the role of the Municipal Commemoration Policy Advisory Group?

    The Municipal Commemoration Policy Advisory Group was established in March 2021 to guide the development of the policy and help with public engagement.

    It is composed of 10 full members (residents with deep knowledge of Ottawa history and cultures as well as memory study specialists, all from diverse professional, cultural and linguistic backgrounds). 

    Four ex officio seats provide an opportunity for City of Ottawa stakeholder departments to participate in the process as non-voting members.

    The Advisory Group provides high-level guidance and support for the development of the policy; identifies gaps; debates issues, troubleshoots and provides clarification; and assists in linking with communities, other levels of government, the private sector and other agencies.

    The first five meetings of the Advisory Group took place in March, April, June, September and December of 2021. The group will meet three more times in 2022. Members are also participating in smaller working groups.

    The Chair and Co-Chair together serve as a liaison between the Advisory Group and the Secretariat that is managing the project.

    What kind of research is being undertaken during the development of the policy?

    Research reports on the theoretical foundations of commemoration, world municipal commemoration practices, and Canadian municipal commemoration practices are being prepared by the project lead. Copies of these can be requested by contacting remembering.sesouvenir@ottawa.ca.

    A survey of past and existing City of Ottawa Commemorative programs and policies will also be undertaken by an expert partner external to the City of Ottawa to identify gaps, opportunities and possible obstacles to the implementation of the new policy.

    What public engagement activities are planned during the policy development process?

    A variety of public engagement activities have taken place in 2021 and others are planned for 2022.  

    An engagement session with the Anishinabe Algonquin Host Nation took place in May 2021. More Indigenous engagement activities will be organized to receive input from the Anishinabe Algonquin Host Nation as well as from Urban First Nations, Inuit and Métis individuals and communities in Ottawa. 

    A bilingual public engagement session will be held to build awareness and to receive resident input and feedback in April 2022.

    Other engagement activities are being undertaken via the Engage Ottawa website. These include surveys targeted towards Ottawa residents on key questions related to the policy.

    What other consultation activities will take place?

    In addition to the public engagement activities outlined above, the project team has been meeting with stakeholders such as the Department of Canadian Heritage, the City’s Arts, Culture and Recreation Advisory Committee, Capital Heritage Connexion (and the culture/heritage organizations in its network) and other memory/heritage organizations to discuss policy development and mechanisms of cooperation.

    How and when will the policy be approved?

    Plans are for the draft policy to be submitted for approval to the Community and Protective Services Committee and City Council in 2024.

    What are some of the guiding pillars that inform development of the municipal commemoration policy?

    (i) Ottawa stands on unceded Algonquin Anishinabe territory. 

    (ii) Respect for Indigenous protocols related to Anishinabe Algonquin Nation and other First Nations, Inuit and Métis cultures and histories is essential.

    (iii) Ottawa carries dual status as a dynamic, mid-sized North American city and the National Capital of Canada. 

    iv) Ottawa encompasses a unique landscape of neighbouring urban, suburban and rural lifestyles, and constitutes a multilingual Canadian city with English and French as official languages.  

    (v) As an important centre of Franco-Ontarian culture and a destination of choice for immigrants the world over, Ottawa is home to a diversity of equity-deserving and immigrant communities.  The diverse communities and citizenry in Ottawa deserve effective recognition and commemoration with particular attention to racial, gender and social equity.    

    (vi) Compatibility with international human rights instruments, adherence to principles of mutual respect, and contributions to sustainable development constitute three building blocks of an effective cultural policy.

    (vii) The City of Ottawa has recognized the value of culture in municipal planning processes  and will work to further integrate cultural planning into municipal initiatives. 

    Where can I get more information about the project?

    To obtain more information about the municipal commemoration policy project, please contact remembering.sesouvenir@ottawa.ca.