Nanaimo archives in crisis after feds cut grants

NANAIMO – Demise of program will leave archivists without important advisory council.

  • Jun. 2, 2012 6:00 p.m.
Christine Meutzner

Christine Meutzner

Federal cuts to Library and Archives Canada will likely result in large gaps in historical record-taking at the Nanaimo Community Archives.

The Conservative government announced last month it was eliminating its $1.7-million National Archival Development Program, distributed by the non-profit Canadian Council of Archives in every province and territory to about 800 community archives across the country.

Without the funding, provincial archival councils will no longer have a mandate and community archivists will be left to stand alone without advice on how to properly archive items.

Christine Meutzner, Nanaimo Community Archives manager, said the funding was imperative to properly research and store record groups, and that provincial councils are important sources of advice to ensure archives are kept to a high standard.

“There is nothing similar at any other level as far as funding like this goes,” she said, adding that fundraising would take up valuable time away from her core duties. “There’s no where else to go.”

“What really bothers me is the provincial councils will collapse so that my archives advisor service is gone,” she said. “We archive to a national standard so that items are easy to find and preserved, it’s not just done willy-nilly. The ability for me to have that professional association and collegiality and that help is gone. It’s an awful effect and nobody wants to have the sense they are operating on their own. “

Nanaimo’s archives are accessed by a number of regular clients, including architects and engineers looking to get a better understanding of the labyrinth of mine shafts under the city, journalists, city planners, municipal employees and students.

Some record groups at the Nanaimo Community Archives previously funded by federal grant money include the Hudson’s Bay Company, Canadian Collieries, Nanaimo Fish and Game Protective Association, and several others. Grants provided for individual record groups are often in the $5,000 to $10,000 range.

Meutzner said the record keeping process is far too technical and time-consuming to ask volunteers or students to do it – knowledge of copyright law and Freedom of Information access is required – and digitizing items within the archive as the federal government has suggest would take “thousands of hours.”

The city provides the archives with almost $57,000 annually, though the archive operates apart from the city as a not-for-profit organization. Donations from the public make up the balance of the budget, which is about $80,000 annually.

Nanaimo Mayor John Ruttan said the city will continue its support, noting that preserving the city’s history is important for citizens who live here now and in the future.

“To me preserving the archives and the work they do is as important as preserving the Bastion – it’s our written history,” he said.

Ruttan stopped short of suggesting the archives become a city-run operation.

Meutzner said while she will still take in items that meet archival criteria, it is likely those items will have to wait months or years before they are properly archived. That will inevitably create holes in Nanaimo’s archived history.

“There’s no doubt about it.” she said. “In 100 years this is all we’ll have. The things that people write now will tell us what Nanaimo was all about.”

Funding to the National Archival Development Program was part of the cutbacks in the federal budget earlier this year.

Just Posted

(PQB News file photo)
Fireworks report highlights enforcement challenges for Regional District of Nanaimo

Director: ‘I just think it’s wasting everybody’s time’

An event on the lawn of the B.C. legislature in Victoria on Tuesday to remember the 215 children whose remains were confirmed buried in unmarked graves outside a Kamloops residential school. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Canada’s racist systems cannot ever be forgiven

Teen letter writer from Nunavut calls for truth and reconciliation

Nanaimo is the first city in Canada to subscribe to the Chonolog environment photo-monitoring system, which allow residents to contribute photos of habitat restoration projects that are converted to time lapse sequences showing environmental changes. (Chris Bush/ News Bulletin)
Nanaimo residents invited to be citizen scientists by sharing habitat restoration photos

Nanaimo first city in Canada to sign up for Chronolog environment photo monitoring service

Regional District of Nanaimo is seeking input from the public for its transit redevelopment strategy. (News Bulletin file)
Public input sought as RDN works on transit redevelopment strategy

RDN wants to know where people want bus stops, shelters and pedestrian and cycling connections

Douglas Holmes, current Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District chief administrative officer, is set to take on that position at the Regional District of Nanaimo come late August. (Submitted photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo’s next CAO keen to work on building partnerships

Douglas Holmes to take over top administrator role with RDN this summer

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps near Nanaimo

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

Stuffed toys, many with donations pinned to them, are piled in the Lions Pavilion at Maffeo Sutton Park at a vigil May 31 honouring the 215 Indigenous children whose remains were discovered outside a residential school in Kamloops. (News Bulletin file photo)
Thousands donated to child and family service agency following Nanaimo vigil

Toys and money donated to Kw’umut Lelum child and family services

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

Most Read