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Continuing the Mission of the Canada Studies Foundation

Recommendations to the Canadian Studies Program of the Department of the Secretary of State*

Volume 14 Number 3

The Canada Studies Foundation has completed what it set out to do* *. It has raised the sensitivity of teachers, students, and policy makers to the need for better civic education for greater mutual understanding within the diversity of Canada, and for a more profound understanding of Canada within the world context The concepts of continuing Canadian concerns and the interrelationships among the basic features of Canada are now well integrated into current Canadian civic education. Thousands of teachers have been reached by the Foundation's work. Hundreds of thousands of students have been the direct beneficiaries of the work of Foundation people. More than 150 exemplary teaching and learning materials have been developed, tested, distributed and used in schools throughout Canada.

More importantly, the fundamental notions advocated by the Foundation have been incorporated into school curricula, in one form or another, throughout the country. Departments and ministries of education, as well as school districts and schools, have assumed responsibility for the promotion of deeper understanding, mutual respect, and a more comprehensive appreciation of Canada within the world as part of the ongoing work of elementary and secondary education in Canada To cap all the more recent structural developments related to Canada studies, the Secretary of State of Canada has established and institutionalized a continuing Canadian Studies Program.

In fifteen years, all the objectives for which the Canada Studies Foundation was established as a voluntary and temporary organization have been achieved The Canada Studies Foundation can now discontinue its activities with the confidence that it has done the job it set out to do and that others will carry on the mission without the organization .

Ceasing its operations does not mean, however, that the objectives and concerns of the Foundation are being set aside. Quite the contrary. In 1985, Canada and Canadian studies activity is so flourishing that there is real competition for available Canada studies resources. The Secretary of State's Canadian Studies Program is inundated with requests for support for fine proposals, and sufficient resources to fund all these are not available. How different 1985 is from 1970, when people had to be actively courted to become engaged in Canada studies.

In the current competition for scarce Canada and Canadian studies funding, it will be important for the Secretary of State and provincial and school district jurisdictions to allocate their resources wisely. The experience of the Canada Studies Foundation prompts two quite specific recommendations

1. In the rush and competition to advance Canada and Canadian studies, university scholars, college instructors, writers, artists, teachers, and others will make their bids for available funding. The people, however, who are most directly and profoundly influential on the social attitudes and understanding of young Canadians are the school teachers of Canada. Accordingly, to ensure the continuity of the mission of the Foundation without the organization, it is imperative that means be found to guarantee that teachers in all parts of Canada will have reserved access to some of the funding for the continuing development of Canada/Canadian studies There are few people outside of the Canada Studies Foundation network who can properly assess the relative value of proposals for Canada studies work at the school level; fortunately, that network is extensive and competent to adjudicate the merits of Canada and Canadian studies projects aimed at young Canadians. The people of that network should continue to be used, especially by the Canadian Studies Program of the Secretary of State.

2. There has. over the years, been a consistent pressure from funding agencies to demand immediate results from project developers in the field of Canada and Canadian studies; quick and flashy products tend to generate additional funding as well as accolades. On the other hand, the experience of the Canada Studies Foundation is overwhelmingly that substantive work which promises lasting results commonly cannot be produced quickly but needs time for adequate development. Accordingly, means must be found despite the understandable pressure for immediate results to support multi-year projects in the field of Canada/Canadian studies. In particular, the Secretary of State's Canadian Studies Program should give priority to multi-year projects because this program is quite explicitly designed to produce long term benefits.

It is likely that the organization known as the Canada Studies Foundation will be missed by educators throughout the country, particularly in the years immediately ahead. Indeed, there may be pressures to revive it and to ask it to take on a fresh or refurbished mandate. Pressure of this kind should be resisted and, if necessary and appropriate, another non-governmental study should be established, with a fresh mandate to achieve new objectives. The decision of the (Canada Studies Foundation to step aside as an organization that has completed its task should be applauded rather than regretted. As an organization, the Canada Studies Foundation may be missed; as a mission oriented group of people however, the Canada Studies Foundation has been an outstanding success. Its work has been done.

*Reprinted from Contact, newsletter of the Canada Studies Foundation.
**The Foundation will close in July of 1986.

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