A July 2008 archaeological dig at an endangered site uncovered the richest, most prolific cache to date of c. 5000 artifacts from several cultures proving that Banff’s rich concentration of natural resources like wild game, edible plants and the famous hot springs, attracted (not repelled as was argued) nomadic peoples for at least 7,000 years.

read more | digg story

In July 2008 Parks Canada archaeologists Bill Perry and Brad Himour during a month-long archaeological dig at an endangered, rare site located west of the town of Banff, excavated 1% of the potential 30,000 square metre site (eleven pits) and uncovered Banff National Park’s richest, most prolific cache to date of thousands of artifacts some dating back 7,000 years, belonging to the Besant, a Plains nomadic civilization previously thought to have avoided the mountains and living mainly on the prairie, had in fact regularly passed through this mountain paradise. Perry says. “On the eroding slope face we’re finding flakes, fire-broken rocks and projectile points. A lot of important information will be lost if we don’t do some salvage excavation.” This site is part of a kilometre-long chain of potential archaeological sites. Although Parks Canada has a dedicated fund for threatened archaeological sites, funding operates on a case-by-case basis, giving priority to culturally sensitive areas at risk from erosion, says Parks manager of cultural resource services Gwyn Langemann. This rich source of knowledge was first threatened in the 1880s when the railway undercut the slope where the excavation sits. “Throughout Western Canada, modern archaeology is only just beginning to scratch the surface when it comes to piecing together early human migration paths. Debate still rages on how long ago glacial ice receded from the Bow Valley, opening up the corridor for nomadic travellers. What is known is that human inhabitation in the Banff area extends back at least 11,000 years, with the oldest site in the area at Lake Minnewanka. That site, exposed only a couple months each year and otherwise submerged beneath the lake’s fluctuating waterline, is also at risk from water damage. Much is still being learned about early settlement in the Rocky Mountains, which were originally viewed as a barrier to migration – a harsh and inhospitable place that divided Western Canada’s early civilizations. Bill Perry claims that since the 1980s archaeologists have reversed their knowledge claims on human settlement history and early human migration paths in which they had argued that the Rockies were a barrier to plains people migrating further west – a harsh and inhospitable place. Using modern archaeological methodologies they have found undeniable evidence showing that Banff valley region rich concentration natural resources like wild game, edible plants and the area’s famous hot springs, attracted nomadic peoples. Its prime campsites and travel corridors remain similar to what they are now. “With the valley’s current vegetation little more than a century old, it was once home to broad meadows and open, grassy Plains that played host to grazing bison.” “Debate still rages on how long ago glacial ice receded from the Bow Valley, opening up the corridor for nomadic travelers.”

Perry describes the site as a “prehistoric beach party”, evidenced by ancient fire pits and cooking sites. Roughly dated by the technology used, nearly 5,000 artifacts have been found, indicating several cultures passed through the area between 7,000 and 500 years ago. Although there is no known link to modern day aboriginal cultures in the area, both Stoney and Blackfoot oral histories connect them with the Bow Valley, while the Kootenay and Shuswap crossed the pass to hunt bison here. “It’s an amazing deposit of fire-broken rock on this ledge,” Himour says. “It’s going to definitely add to the conversation about the Besant occupation of the park.” Artifacts will be catalogued and inventoried over the winter, with carbon dating test results expected next spring. Perry hopes funding will continue, allowing ongoing exploration of the culturally important area. “At best all you can hope to do is get enough money to get a sampling of what’s here. Archaeology is an expensive business,” he says (Follett 2008-08-07).

Follett, Amanda. 2008-08-07. “Dig indicates Plains culture spent significant time near Banff.” Rocky Mountain Outlook.

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This could be the beginning of a new Robertson Davies’ novel.

“The director of the National Gallery of Canada fired his deputy director for “just cause” — twice — in June and then found himself in Federal Court accused of being “medically” unfit to perform his job, according to previously secret court documents released yesterday (Gessell 2008-07-26).

It is important that the Affadavit which Gallery upper management attempted to conceal, has not only been unsealed but is now available online at Affadavit of David Franklin and National Gallery of Canada and Pierre Theberge, Ottawa, ON. It is evident from the tone of the affadavit and even minute editing oversights and grammatical errors (unlike editing errors in this blog resulting from my desire to go outside and play), that David Franklin was distraught when he wrote it in collaboration with his legal council.

It may prove to be a destroyer of careers and reputations.

But the National Gallery of Canada is not a private organization. The 40, 000 plus works in the permanent collection belong to the public. It is a Crown Corporation.

The Affadavit reveals far more than the possibility that an old man has outworn his usefulness, it reveals a culture of silence in the Gallery that has been a part the Gallery since at least 1997. Earning, achieving and maintaining an international reputation is crucial to this cultural institution. Thanks to the hard work of previous directors and current and previous curators, etc the National Gallery has achieved a great deal of credibility in ICOM particularly in regards to expertise in curating, conservation and restoration.

David Franklin’s concerns about Theberge’s management style should be taken very seriously and investigated in-depth. Questions should be raised about the loss of curatorial expertise and productivity as valued, experienced curators were forced to retire early, castrated by the administration while remaining in the institution or leaving out of frustration because they lost favour with Pierre Theberge since 1997, not just recently under the guise of illness. Let’s not blame the disease for a style of governance that created havoc in the granite and glass building.

Arts journalist noted in his blog that “Official advertisements seeking a replacement for the retiring Pierre Theberge have started appearing in newspapers. Far more emphasis is placed in the ad on management abilities than on knowledge of art. Maybe one of the government’s friends in the Calgary oil patch could take the job, assuming he or she was bilingual (Gessell 2008-05-21).”

read more | digg story

Excerpts from 2008- Affadavit of David Franklin and National Gallery of Canada and Pierre Theberge, Ottawa, ON.
27. [David Franklin is] concerned that [he is] now the target of Mr. Theberge’s most recent effort to push someone out. [Pierre Theberge’s] motivation to remove [David Franklin’s] candidature for consideration as Director of the Gallery by blackening [his] professional reputation and terminating [his] employment for “just cause” unless [he] agrees to resign (Affadavit p.10)”

4. “Mr. Theberge’s Medical Position:

“Pierre Theberge suffers from Parkinson’s Disease. This fact has been known for several years by the Board, the senior management team and publicly. [David Franklin claimed that based on his own daily observations ] that Mr. Theberge’s medical condition has deteriorated rapidly over the past year [2007-2008] (Affadavit p.8)” “[ . . . David Franklin claimed that Pierre Theberge] “is no longer capable of performing the full duties that his position demands with the vigour or the proficiency that is required for the Director of a major Crown Corporation. Some of the symptoms that I have observed first hand are falling asleep during meetings, including one-on-one meetings; losing his temper with staff; acting erratically and reacting emotionally out of context; loss of memory; increasing nostalgia; short working days; inability to write his signature; difficulty concentrating and focusing on complex issues; lack of leadership qualities; contempt towards senior management; vindictiveness; violent mood swings; insulting and intimidating behaviour; appearing to be heavily medicated; requiring staff accompaniment at all times; requiring staff to prepare his meals at work; and occasional refusal to meet with major donors or be interviewed publicly due to deterioration in his public speaking abilities (Affadavit p.9)”

Pierre Theberge management style:

26. David Franklin “noticed a pattern whereby Mr. Theberge orchestrates the departure of curators from the Gallery. Mr. Theberge often seems to revere a given curator for a short while but then grows disenchanted with them to the point [where] he determines that they must be dismissed. Mr. Theberge regularly solicits negative gossip about Gallery employees and uses it against them when it suits his purposes. Unfortunately, Mr. Theberge seldom actually “fires” the people himself. Instead, he directs that the person is no longer to be supported in their work. In the past, I have seen him decide that he no longer values someone’s contributions and then start refusing approval for, canceling, blocking or reducing their exhibitions, acquisitions and even travel. This prevents the curator from being able to function in their job in any meaningful way and the person ends of leaving out of frustration. Mr. Theberge has also asked me to accelerate the early departure of curators near retirement whom he had taken a dislike to. I can think of at least three (Affadavit p.10)”

Random notes:

National Gallery of Canada is a Crown Corporation pursuant to the Museums Act, 1990, c. 3.

National Gallery of Canada is also governed by the Financial Administration Act, RS, 1985, c. F-11.

Pierre Théberge came to the NGC at the same time as outdated top-down business models already under scrutiny in more progressive sectors of the private sector were being embraced by those in positions of governance in the public sector. He did not invent his top-down parachute-in management style.

The arms-length policies intended to protect Crown corporations like the National Gallery of Canada from unwarranted state intervention, are particularly vulnerable to abuse by upper management should certain types of management styles prevail.

She was young, blond, trim, athletic, focused and fierce. She was hired by Bell to fire hundreds of employees in the 1990s and that was her opening remark in her first meeting with us along with, “If you don’t like it you can leave.” The aftermath of her arrival could only be described as tense. Everyone was tense all the time. I was so relieved I was not there anymore. She wasn’t a high-noon face-off girl. She was more like an execution squad facing powerless blind-folded victims. Those who were fired lost all rights to tell their stories openly. And there are so many stories to be told. Even today the image of security escorting friends trembling with shock carrying cardboard boxes sends shivers . . .

But perhaps the greater sadness came as we watched valued and experienced curators and administrators leave of their own volition unable to accept a dictatorial management style that was so unlike the two predecessors. So many exhibitions canceled and with them years of research seemingly lost . . .

Pierre Théberge’s arrival at the NGC in 1997 coincided with the formation of the National Gallery of Canada Foundation and with it fund-raising at the gallery reached new levels.

Philanthropic foundations like the National Gallery of Canada Foundation created in 1997 are part of the golden age of philanthropy which is a global phenomenon. These new philanthropists are legal categorizations of nonprofit organizations that are highly specialized and concerned with measurable impact. Their work is strategic, market-conscious, knowledge-based, high-engagement and always involves maximizing leverage of the foundation’s assets.

Pierre Théberge’s arrival at the NGC in 1997 also coincided with changes in the capital-gains tax which led to a sharp increase in donations. “Until 1997, the full normal capital- gains tax was due; reducing the “inclusion rate” to 50 per cent in 1997 led to a sharp increase in such donations. The federal finance department told Angus’s committee each foregone dollar in tax revenue was linked to $13 in extra giving. (Angus 2005-01-30).”

Selected (subjective) timeline of events

1970s Pierre Théberge worked at the National Gallery rising to the position of curator of contemporary Canadian art.

1979 Pierre Théberge joined the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts as chief curator and later became director. He was nicknamed “Mr. Blockbuster” which can be considered as a derogatory term.

1987-1997 Shirley Thomson, C.C. 2008 Laureate was born and raised in St. Mary’s, Ontario, she left a teaching job for Montreal and, ultimately, Paris, where she worked as an editor for NATO. She returned to Canada to become assistant secretary-general of World University Service of Canada (WUSC), and later assistant secretary-general of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, working in the UN agency’s fields of education, science and culture. A decade later she was back in Montreal, enrolled at McGill as a Ph.D. student in art history, exploring the hunt theme in 18th-century palace decoration in France. Her McGill experience launched her career as a cultural administrator. As director of the McCord Museum (1982-1985), she turned a small university museum into a public research and teaching museum dedicated to the preservation, study and appreciation of Canadian history. After serving as secretary-general of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, she was appointed director of the National Gallery of Canada in 1987. Dr. Thomson and her professional team developed, over the decade of her tenure, a strong program that helped raise the Gallery’s profile. She served as director of the Canada Council for the Arts from 1998 to 2002, and as chair of the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board from 2003 to 2007.” www.citizenvoices.gg.ca/_pdf/ReportArtMattersVisualMediaArts2008.pdf

Colin Bailey was named as the National Gallery of Canada’s chief curator replacing Shirley Thomson.

1995 David Franklin won the 1995 Eric Mitchell Prize for Rosso in Italy: The Italian Career of Rosso Fiorentino (published by Yale University Press, 1994)

1995 David Franklin won the Governors’ Award for Yale University Press for best press book by an author under the age of forty.

1997 The exhibition Renoir’s Portraits: Impressions of an Age, organized by the National Gallery of Canada in 1997, set a Gallery attendance record of 340,000 visitors.

1997 The exhibition entitled Baroque to Neo-Classical: Sculpture in Quebec was held at the National Gallery of Canada from February through May, Vancouver Art Gallery from July to October and the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon from October to January 1998. It was ten years in the making. Gallery director Shirley Thomson had charged Rene Villeneuve , Assistant Curator of Early Canadian Art with the task of mounting the exhibition in 1988 which was to cover Quebec sculpture from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Villeneuve also wrote the research-intense 201 page exhibition catalogue by the same name. Twenty important works were restored for the exhibition. Charlie Hill provided Villeneuve with constant encouragement during the preparation of the exhibition which Thomson described as having “masterfully convey[ed] an important, rich, and indeed fundamental aspect of our culture, inherited from France (Thomson 1997:7).” With the arrival of Pierre Theberge, Villeneuve’s research and unique curatorial skills were no longer promoted with any enthusiasm.

1997 Pierre Théberge, risk-taker in charge at Gallery: Pierre Theberge succeeds Thomson (Gessell 1997). Dr. Shirley Thomson was a popular director who treated everyone in her employ with respect.

1997 Until 1997, the full normal capital- gains tax was due; reducing the “inclusion rate” to 50 per cent in 1997 led to a sharp increase in such donations. The federal finance department told Angus’s committee each foregone dollar in tax revenue was linked to $13 in extra giving. Angus believes the multiplier would be even greater if the capital-gains tax were dropped altogether (Angus 2005-01-30).”

“The tax treatment of donations of shares is more favourable in the US than in Canada, and it was argued that the remaining capital gains tax on gifted securities in Canada should be eliminated. Since the 50% reduction in the capital gains tax for such gifts was eliminated in 1997, there has been a dramatic increase in donations. Eliminating the remaining 50% would stimulate even more. A member of the Council for Business and the Arts in Canada stated that, “the single most important step which the government can take to assist our arts organizations and every charitable sector, including health care, education and social services, to raise additional money, is to eliminate the remaining capital gains tax on gifts of listed securities.” (NACF 2002:6)

1997 The NGC Foundation was created. Donald and Beth Sobey gave generously oftheir time and financial support through the Foundation.

1997 The Audain Foundation was established. Michael Audain, Chairman of the Vancouver-based Polygon Homes Ltd., and his wife, Yoshiko Karasawa, are active supporters of the arts since the 1980s. Michael Audain served on the Vancouver Art Gallery board for many years, including in the role of president. Michael is now Chair of their Foundation. In 2004, Business for the Arts honoured Michael with the Edmund C. Bovey Award for leadership in the arts. He was appointed to the National Gallery of Canada Board of Trustees in 2005 and to the Order of British Columbia in 2007.

1997-2009 Pierre Théberge served as director of the National Gallery of Canada, the second-longest term for a National Gallery director.

1998 David Franklin joined the National Gallery as Curator of Prints and Drawings.

NGC. 2000-04-03. “National Gallery of Canada Comes to Amicable Agreement with Educator Guides.” Press Release. NGC:Ottawa. http://www.national.gallery.ca/english/558_890.htm

2000 Kitty Scott began working at the NGC in contemporary art where she found that the NGC collection did not include many works by highly sought after artists from Western Canada who were working in a complex way across film, photography, video and installation. There were no works by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, or by the younger artists Brian Jungen, Geoffrey Farmer or Althea Thauberger at the time. She began to acquire more works by Jeff Wall and Rodney Graham as well as a film and a photographic series by Stan Douglas. http://www.canadianart.ca/art/features/2007/06/01/serpentine/

2001-02-21 Pierre Théberge National Gallery of Canada Director and Curator Appointed to the Order of Canada

2001-05-10 On May 10, 2001 200 technicians, installers and administrative staff at the National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography embarked went on the first general strike in the history of these institutions. It is noteworthy that David Franklin brought strikers doughnuts on the strike line (Geddes 2008-07-09). Relations between gallery staff and Pierre Theberge remained rocky ever since this strike.

The strike was timed to coincide with an $1.8 million exhibition of the works of Austrian artist Gustav Klimt which opened on June 15. Strikers won the support of the public as well as prominent Canadian artists such as Michael Snow. And the strike seems to have attracted visitors since there were 500 more visitors than the projection figure of 18,000 for June! One of the areas of concern was the need for a corporate anti-harassment policy. Gallery administration spent lavishly to hire lawyers and security officers instead of tabling a fair offer. The red shoes displayed on the Gallery plaza have become the symbol of their strike. Red shoes became a symbol of solidarity as strikers “placed hundreds of pairs of donated footwear — painted a brilliant, scarlet hue — outside the museum (on Rideau Street) and gallery (on Sussex Drive) every day. […] The whimsical appearance of the red shoes inspired workers to create songs, poetry, T-shirts and posters, delighted passers-by, and garnered more frequent media attention than any conventional, non-violent protest action could ever have done (Bemben 2002).”

“Art can be a form of action, and our picket lines can be seen as a work of performance art. In order to reinforce that concept, we, as a group, will create a collective work of art. Walking on the picket line is a burden on our feet, and our shoes become part of our plight. We are literally wearing out our shoes! […] By placing our old shoes next to us on the picket line, we are visually representing the many, many miles that we have walked, and the labour that goes into walking the line. We are labouring on behalf of labour. Our shoes also embody our individuality — they are personal artifacts. By painting our old shoes all the same shade of red, we are symbolizing our passion and solidarity as a group. […] Lately, our feet have been taking us in a different direction, but we hope to soon have a fair contract and be walking back inside our beloved institutions (Strike posters cited by Bemben 2002).”

The NGC was forced to “postpone indefinitely an exhibition of work by Montreal photographer Pierre Boogaerts at the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography (part of the National Gallery). “Attendance to our permanent collections has been down,” admits Joanne Charette, the National Gallery’s public-affairs director. “We’ve had to cancel educational tours for students, which usually adds to our figures in May and June.” The strike was in full force when the museum’s Gustav Klimt exhibition opened on June 15. Charette says that attendance for the show, at 18,500 visitors in June, is actually above the projected figure of 18,000. The show cost Can. $1.8 million and required three years to organize. To compensate for the postponement of the Boogaerts show, the current exhibitions of work by Larry Towell and Diana Thorneycroft have been extended until September 3 (Jana 2001).”

2003 NGC. 2003-09-23. “Board of Trustess Supports National Gallery of Canada Director. Press Release. NGC: Ottawa. http://www.national.gallery.ca/english/552_1072.htm

2003 Attendance at the National Gallery of Canada 455,000, down 13 percent from 2002. http://www.national.gallery.ca/english/550_988.htm

2003 Donald Sobey, entrepreneur and collector of Canadian art from Stellarton, Nova Scotia, donated $1 million gift through the “Donald and Beth Sobey Chief Curator’s Research Endowment. Under the guidance of the Gallery’s Chief Curator, Dr. David Franklin, this fund gives the National Gallery the opportunity to conduct and publish scholarly research of national and international scope (NGC. 2007-01-11).”

2003-2004 “The Government increased the Gallery’s acquisitions budget in 2003-2004 to restore some of its lost purchasing power and allow it to continue building the national collection for future generations. The budget, supplemented by the generous support of the National Gallery of Canada Foundation, made possible several important purchases, including Quebec painter Ozias Leduc’s Portrait of Gertrude Leduc, Jacopo Pontormo’s Renaissance drawing Reclining Male Nude, and Douglas Gordon’s contemporary video work Play Dead: Real Time. The Gallery increased its holdings of First Nations and Inuit art with works including Norval Morisseau’s Observations of the Astral World and Brian Jungen’s whale skeleton sculpture Vienna.” http://www.national.gallery.ca/english/550_988.htm

2004 David Franklin’s book entitled Treasures of the National Gallery of Canada

2005-04-06 The appointment of Diana Nemiroff as the new Director of the Carleton University Art Gallery (CUAG) effective July 4 was announced. “Diana Nemiroff has garnered an international reputation in the contemporary art world. She has been a senior curator at the National Gallery of Canada since 1990 and has held assistant and associate curator positions with the Gallery since 1983 dealing mainly with contemporary and 20th-century art. She has organized many successful exhibitions including her favourite Crossings, a highly acclaimed 1998 exhibition of works in various media that examined the situation of people migrating from one country to another. The exhibition Land, Spirit, Power: First Nations at the National Gallery of Canada, which she organized with Charlotte Townsend-Gault and Robert Houle, broke new ground in the recognition of First Nations artists in Canada, and won the Janet Braide Memorial Award for its contributions to Canadian art history. Two of her exhibitions, 3 x 3: Flavin, Andre, Judd and Protean Picasso: Drawings and Prints from the Collection of the National Gallery of Canada [toured Canada in 2005]. She also planned and installed the collection of contemporary art for the opening of the National Gallery’s new building in 1988.” http://www.carleton.ca/duc/News/news04060501.html

“Diana Nemiroff has been the director of the Carleton University Art Gallery since 2005. Before joining the staff of Carleton University, she worked for over 20 years at the National Gallery of Canada, where she developed a national reputation as a curator of contemporary art. She has numerous exhibitions to her credit, including recent monographic displays by Damian Moppett (2006), Lyne Lapointe (2007) and Pascal Grandmaison (2008). As a curator at the National Gallery, she has been recognized for her work on group exhibitions such as The Canadian Biennial of Contemporary Art / La biennale d’art contemporain canadien (1989); Land, Spirit, Power: First Nations at the National Gallery of Canada / Terre, esprit, pouvoir: les premières nations au Musée des beaux-arts du Canada (1992); Crossings / Traversées (1998); and Elusive Paradise: The Millennium Prize / Paradis insaisissables : le prix du millénaire (2001). These shows surveyed the national and international contemporary art scene, identifying issues around the presentation of Aboriginal art, globalization, and the environment, and how it has affected the art world in recent years.
Diana Nemiroff was born in London, England, and was raised and educated in Montreal, where she studied at the École des beaux-arts, before earning both a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and a master’s degree at Concordia University. She is a board member of the Canadian Museums Association and is vice president of the University and College Art Galleries Association of Canada. In addition to her museum experience, she has a background as a critic and writer, and continues to write on contemporary and modern art for a variety of independent projects.” http://www.citizenvoices.gg.ca/_pdf/ReportArtMattersVisualMediaArts2008.pdf

2005-05-28. The National Gallery of Canada Foundation held its first national fundraising event, the Renaissance Ball which generated one million dollars. Thomas d’Aquino, Chairman of the Foundation’s Board of Directors thanked Marie Claire Morin, President and CEO of the Foundation and her team and she in turn thanked thanked Thomas d’Aquino, saying, “Through his leadership, vision and commitment, Thomas d’Aquino accomplished an incredible feat by bringing together such a prestigious group of art patrons and philanthropists. Without him, the Renaissance Ball would simply not have been possible.”(NGC. 2005-06-03).

2005 David Franklin’s “first big splash as chief curator was the exhibition Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and the Renaissance in Florence. It was the Florence show that caught the eye of curators at Los Angeles’s J. Paul Getty Museum, leading them to partner with the National Gallery on a Bernini sculpture show, slated to open in [July of 2008] at the prestigious Getty, before moving to Ottawa for a fall and winter run (Geddes 2008).”

2006 “Kitty Scott left her post as National Gallery curator of contemporary art [in 2006], in part, because of her frustration in getting gallery management to mount contemporary art exhibitions (Gessell 2008-06-10).” In a interview with Canadian Art she described changes that the NGC should consider, “In terms of contemporary art there needs to be more of it, both national and international. This means more exhibitions, acquisitions, publications, conferences and talks with artists, writers and theorists. The best institutions work closely with their curators, the experts, to bring these programs to fruition. And these programs must be seriously marketed—nationally and internationally—and use the Web in innovative ways. As well, I think the NGC would benefit from being more closely aligned with artists. Many museums have artists on their boards. I also believe that the NGC should play a more formative role in teaching students of museology, art history, conservation, museum management, design history, art and curating across Canada. I am sure universities would welcome this. And I think there could be stronger ties with the major collectors and dealers across the country. These people should be regarded as family and they should be made to feel more welcome. It would also be great if the National Gallery of Canada could develop relationships with other Canadian institutions so that the collection of contemporary art could be seen more widely. While the idea of summer exhibitions in Shawinigan is interesting, I wonder about it, practically speaking. Ottawa is already remote, as the number of people visiting the institution shows, so why explore even more remote territory? What is the logic? Why not open a small space in the heart of Montreal, or St. John’s for that matter?” http://www.canadianart.ca/art/features/2007/06/01/serpentine


2006
The National Gallery of Canada Foundation is extremely proud to announce an extraordinary gift of $2 million dollars for the creation of The Audain Endowment for Contemporary Canadian Art. The Audain Foundation, a British Columbia-based family trust, generously made this donation, the largest in the history of the National Gallery of Canada Foundation. “This fund will ensure that the National Gallery of Canada will have the ability to acquire Canadian contemporary art, and to focus on the unique talents of artists from Canada with an emphasis on British Columbia” says Pierre Théberge, Director of the National Gallery of Canada. “We wish to thank the Audain Foundation, and in particular Michael Audain and Yoshiko Karasawa, or their generous gift to the National Gallery and the visual arts commmunity.” “Canada from coast to coast has many important contemporary artists who deserve to be in the National Gallery’s collection, so our foundation is pleased to be able to give help in this regard,” said Michael Audain. “We are deeply grateful for this endowment, the single largest leadership gift to benefit living artists right across the country,” says Marie Claire Morin, President and CEO of the National Gallery of Canada Foundation. Established in 1997, The Audain Foundation has made grants to 25 organizations for projects related to the visual arts. Mr. Audain, Chairman of the Vancouver-based Polygon Homes Ltd., and his wife, Ms. Karasawa, have been active supporters of the arts for over 25 years. Serving on the Vancouver Art Gallery board from 1992 to 1998, including the role of president, Mr. Audain is now Chair of their Foundation. In 2004, the Council for Business and Arts honoured Mr. Audain with Canada’s Edmund C. Bovey Award for leadership in the arts. He was appointed to the National Gallery of Canada Board of Trustees in 2005. The National Gallery of Canada Foundation is dedicated to supporting the National Gallery and its affiliate, the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, in fulfilling their mandates. By fostering strong partnerships, the Foundation provides the Gallery with the additional financial support required to lead Canada’s visual arts community locally, nationally and internationally. The blend of public support and private philanthropy enables the National Gallery of Canada to preserve and interpret Canada’s visual arts heritage.”

2007 “Publication National Gallery of Canada Review V gets the support of the renowned Donald and Beth Sobey Chief Curator’s Research Endowment.” Mr. Sobey was Chairman of the NGC’s Board of Trustees and a member of the NGC Foundation’s Board of Directors. Donald Sobey was Chairman of the Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Canada; Director, Board of Directors, National Gallery of Canada Foundation; Member of the Founding Partner’s Circle of the National Gallery of Canada Foundation; Chairman Emeritus, Empire Company Limited; Director: Sobey Inc., Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc., Atlantic Shopping Centres Limited, High Liner Foods Incorporated and President of the Sobey Art Foundation (NGC. 2007-01-11).

2007-12 Michael Audain, Chairman of the Vancouver-based Polygon Homes and his wife donated another $2 million to the NGC towards the creation of the Audain Curator of Indigenous Art Endowment. Combined gifts from the Audain Foundation have created a new threshold of $4 million for gifts by a single donor.

2008-01? Pierre Theberge imminent retirement:

“In early 2008 the Gallery took steps in relation to starting a search for a new Director to replace Mr. Theberge. The firm of Janet Wright and Associates Inc was hired to assist with the recruitment and selection process. It is well known within the Gallery and its Boards from comments made to me by Mr. Theberge that Mr. Theberge does not want to leave his position as Director of the Gallery. He is extremely distraught at the thought of leaving the Gallery and that a search is underway for a new Director to replace him. [David Franklin . . . ] believes that Mr, Theberge has and will continue to take whatever steps are within his power to delay the date on which he will ultimately be replaced and also to control who that person might eventually be for his own personal gain (Affadavit p.7).”

2008-05 Arts journalist noted in his blog that “Official advertisements seeking a replacement for the retiring Pierre Theberge have started appearing in newspapers. Far more emphasis is placed in the ad on management abilities than on knowledge of art. Maybe one of the government’s friends in the Calgary oil patch could take the job, assuming he or she was bilingual (Gessell 2008-05-21).”

2008-04-03 Pierre Theberge announced 10 job cuts, including five layoffs including highly regarded Anne Maheux, a senior paper conservator with more than 25 years of service. Among those laid off are three members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and one member of the Professional Institute of Public Service of Canada (PIPSC).

2008-04-16 The The Canadian Association of Emerging Conservators (CAEC-ACRE) argued that the removal of [Anne Maheux who has been constantly active in the conservation field, supervising paper conservation interns on a regular basis and contributing to conservation associations, research and publications] is ill advised. “Furthermore, the remaining senior paper conservator at the NGC, who is due to retire in a short period of time, has not for many years maintained a practice of taking on curriculum interns. The CAEC is concerned that after this gap in practice, the remaining senior paper conservator may not be willing and/or fully able to take over Ms. Maheux’s role as supervisor to future students in the NGC paper laboratory. In addition, the elimination of this position also brings forward the issue of succession planning, or lack thereof, a question which is central to the CAEC’s activities. With this loss in mind, one has to wonder what the state of the paper conservation department at the NGC will be in a few years.” http://caecacre.wordpress.com/2008/04/16/special-announcement/

2008-04 “Dear Mr. Theberge, The membership of the Canadian Association for Conservation of Cultural Property wish to convey our shock and extreme disappointment over the National Gallery of Canada’s recent decision to eliminate a full time position in the Conservation/Restoration Laboratory. Works of art on paper are among the most fragile and unforgiving of the Gallery’s collections, and are readily subject to irreparable damage if handled inexpertly. The CAC finds it unthinkable that the Gallery would dismiss a Conservator as highly regarded nationally and internationally as Anne Maheux, and assure you that we believe that neither the Gallery’s impressive collections of works of art on paper nor its professional reputation will be well served by this short sighted decision. The letter of explanation delivered to Gallery staff notes that the aim of the cuts was a 5% reduction in the “least performing programs”. By what measure, we ask, is Ms. Maheux’s work considered to be “underperforming”? Ms. Maheux is widely regarded as one of the preeminent leaders in the field of conservation of works of art on paper worldwide. As well as a graduate of both Queens and Harvard Universities’ conservation programs, she is a fellow of the American Academy in Rome, an accredited member of the Canadian Association of Professional Conservators, a former President of this organization and member of our Board of Directors for many years. Her enormous commitment to her profession is self-evident. Among her many internationally significant accomplishments are her seminal research into the works of Degas, her contributions on development of mounting systems for oversized works, her work with contemporary works of art, and her efforts toward establishment of a federal Museums Policy. Colleagues with whom I have spoken are unanimous in describing her work as exemplary. The CAC urges you to reconsider the elimination of this position and the employment of Ms. Maheux personally. Not to do so will cause the Gallery’s reputation irreparable harm in the eyes of the Canadian conservation community. Sincerely, Dee A. Stubbs-Lee, President, CAC/ACCR CC: Mr. Donald R. Sobey – Chairperson of the Board of Trustees, National Gallery; Mr. David Franklin – Deputy Director and Chief Curator, National Gallery; Mr. Stephen Gritt – Chief, Restoration Conservation Laboratory, National Gallery; Ms. Lise Labine – Director, Human Resources, National Gallery.” http://www.cac-accr.ca/pdf/Ministerletter.pdf

2007-07 to 2008-04 Mr. Baxter and the Strategic Review Committee undertook to reach a 5% budget reduction by “identifying the “lowest performing” programs, including staff in each part of the Gallery. As a result of the review process eight positions at the Gallery including the position of Assistant Curator of European and American Art occupied by Erika Dolphin who is part of the PIPSC union) were abolished (Affadavit p.11)” According to [David Franklin] Erika Dolphin’s layoff was justified because of “overlaps of expertise (Affadavit p.12)” and that “the business case for abolishing the position was sound, even though it resulted in more pressure to perform on those remaining in the department (Affadavit p.12).” The decision to abolish the position was “a business decision (Affadavit p.12).”

According to [David Franklin] senior management discussed these layoffs very little but “the general feeling [. . .] was that people had not wanted to engage in layoffs, that there had been pressure from the Strategic Review Committee to cut the required 5%, and that the Strategic Review had been a very difficult process which resulted in decreased morale for Gallery senior management (Affadavit p.11)”

2008-04-29 The PIPSC filed two grievances on behalf of Erika Dolphin.

2008-05-08 PSAC. 2008-05-08. “Federal Program Reviews Mean Layoffs and Downgraded Services at the National Gallery of Canada.” Ottawa. “Jobs will be lost and corners will be cut at the National Gallery of Canada as a result of the federal government’s revolving “strategic review” of program spending in targeted departments and agencies across the federal government. Selected to undergo a review in 2007 along with 16 other departments and agencies, the National Gallery was directed to cut its budget by five per cent. Where the recent federal budget released in February referred to “better use of internal resources and administrative efficiencies” in the museums sector, the plain truth was announced by the Director of the National Gallery on April 3 when he announced 10 job cuts, including five layoffs – one of those to a senior paper conservator with more than 25 years of service. Among those laid off are three members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and one member of the Professional Institute of Public Service of Canada (PIPSC). Director Pierre Thèberge also said the five per cent cut dictated by the strategic review process will necessitate other cuts that will have an impact on the Gallery’s publishing and marketing capacity. Events and exhibitions will have to be scaled back and training will also have to be curtailed, according to Thèberge. Reaction to the cuts, and in particular to the position of the senior paper conservator, has been swift. Numerous letters to Thèberge from senior gallery staff, trustees and conservators say the cuts call into question the gallery’s commitment and its ability to fulfill its mandate to expand and conserve its extensive collections. PSAC is currently considering a range of actions in response to the employer’s actions. Ed Cashman, PSAC Regional Executive Vice-President for the National Capital Region, argued that, “These cuts will not only hinder the Gallery’s ability to carry out its mandate, they will also have a significant impact on smaller museums across the country that rely on the gallery’s collections to draw visitors into their facilities.” http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/May2008/08/c6375.html?view=print

2008 “The gallery’s contemporary art shows [1998-2008] have been largely limited to retrospectives of aging artists who generally did their best work half a century ago when Pierre Theberge was curator of contemporary Canadian art at the very institution he now heads. Examples in recent years: Alex Colville, Norval Morrisseau, Gathie Falk, Bette Goodwin (Gessell 2008-06-10).”

2008 National Gallery promotes its blockbuster (June-September 200 8) called “The 1930s: The `New Man’” – which promises to be one of the most intriguing art shows of the year. Featuring more than 200 works by artists including Wassily Kandinsky, Max Ernst, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Alberto Giacometti, Joan Miro, Diego Rivera and many others, it looks at an era when Marxist and Fascist regimes in Russia, Germany and Italy were trying to create a “superman” without human weaknesses (Knelman 2008). This is a strange choice by a man known for his dictatorial management style. The 1930s has been the subject of major thematic exhibitions in Berlin, Vienna, Madrid, and Paris. The NGC version examines the connection between art and biology. “In the 1930s, biology became a force for change, often destructive, notably in its racist and eugenicist forms that sought to “improve” the human species. During this decade, the opposed concepts of the “degenerate” – or “mentally ill” – artist, as described by the Nazi ideology of the Third Reich, and the “superman” or “new man” became widespread. These ideologies were to have a profound influence on forms of art and representation.” The works presented in this exhibition come from private and public collections in Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Holland, Israel, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States grouped under nine themes: Genesis, Convulsive Beauty, “The Will to Power”, The Making of “The New Man”, Mother Earth, The Appeal of Classicism, “Faces of our Time”, “Crowds and Power”, and The Charnel House. The organizing committee is chaired by the director of the National Gallery of Canada, Pierre Théberge. Its members comprise the following curators: Jean Clair, retired director of the Musée Picasso in Paris; Didier Ottinger, of the Centre Georges Pompidou; Constance Naubert-Riser, professor emeritus, Université de Montréal; Ann Thomas, the NGC’s Curator of Photography and the NGC’s director of National Outreach and International Relations, Mayo Graham, who acts as the committee’s coordinator. excerpts from http://national.gallery.ca/english/540_2091.htm

2008-07-03 National Gallery director Pierre Théberge sent an email to gallery staff “dedicated one nondescript sentence to announcing deputy director David Franklin’s leave and two extensive paragraphs detailing the career achievements of his “interim” replacement, Mayo Graham, who worked closely with Mr. Théberge at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts before following him to the gallery a decade ago. Some have even described Ms. Graham, who was serving as director of national outreach and international relations, as Mr. Théberge’s protégé. Sources close to the gallery said the current tensions are rumoured to have come out of a dispute between Mr. Franklin and Mr. Théberge over the planned dismissal of another employee, which then escalated into a rift between them and made Mr. Franklin feel unwelcome (Alphonso and Bradshaw 2008-07-18).” Although David Franklin often replaced Pierre Théberge in public relations they were not close colleagues. Mr. Blockbuster, Pierre Theberge promotes activities that are part of a movement within museums globally in the 1990s that are criticized by some as being categorize are part of the dumbing-down of museums. David Franklin is a scholar.

It was widely believed that the two men were not close colleagues.

2008-07-26
Sealed documents were released revealing that David Franklin expressed grave concerns about the mental competency of Pierre Theberge who he argued should be immediately relieved of his duties as director of one of Canada’s most important cultural institutions (Gessell 2008-07-26). “(Gessell 2008-07-26).

Webliography and Bibliography

Alphonso, Caroline; Bradshaw, James. 2008-07-18. “Gallery’s dirty laundry receives private airing
Federal Court seals file on application for judicial review of case involving dispute between top administrators at National Gallery
.” Globe and Mail

Angus, W. David. 2005-01-30. “A gift for givers.” Montreal Gazette.

Bemben, Linda. 2002. “Poetry: Striking Red Shoes, An Introduction” Our Times.

Gessell, Paul. 2008-07-26. “National Gallery feud revealed: Unsealed documents detail deep rancour at highest level.The Ottawa Citizen.

Gessell, Paul. 2008-05-21. “But can he discuss art?” Art and the City.

Gessell, Paul. 1997. “Risk-taker in charge at Gallery: Pierre Theberge succeeds Thomson.” The Ottawa Citizen.

Gessell, Paul. 2008-06-10. “Let’s have a biennialArt and the City.

2008-07-03. “National Gallery curator takes an indefinite leave.” The Ottawa Citizen.

Gessell, Paul. 2008-07-17. “National gallery heads faceoff in court: Judge dismisses mystery case involving directors.” The Ottawa Citizen.

Jana, Reena. 2001. “Staff Strike at the National Gallery of Canada.” Artforum International Magazine, New York, NY.

Knelman, Martin. 2008-03-19. “Not coming to a gallery near you.” The Star.

McCooey, Paula. 2008-07-18. “Day after secret court hearing, national gallery says all’s well.” The Ottawa Citizen. with files from Paul Gessell.

NACF. 2002-09-18. “National Arts Centre Foundation. Roundtable on Philanthropy in the Performing Arts.” September 18, 2002. Public Policy Forum.

NGC. 2000-04-03. “National Gallery of Canada Comes to Amicable Agreement with Educator Guides.” Press Release. NGC:Ottawa.

NGC. 2001-02-21, “National Gallery of Canada Director and Curator Appointed to the Order of Canada.” Press Release. NGC:Ottawa.

NGC. 2001-06-04. National Gallery of Canada and Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography sign new agreement with the Professional Institute of Public Service of Canada.

NGC. 2001-07-11. “Tentative agreement reached for PSAC members at the National Gallery of Canada.” Press Release. NGC: Ottawa

CBC News. 2003-09-23. Gallery director under fire for $600,000 expense tab.”

NGC. 2003-09-23. “Board of Trustees Supports National Gallery of Canada Director. Press Release. NGC: Ottawa.

NGC. 2005-06-03. “One million dollars for the Renaissance Ball.” Press Release. NGC: Ottawa.

NGC. 2006-06-20. “The National Gallery of Canada Foundation receives the most important financial gift of its history.” NGC: Ottawa.

NGC. 2007-01-11. “Publication National Gallery of Canada Review V gets the support of the renowned Donald and Beth Sobey Chief Curator’s Research Endowment.” Press Release. NGC: Ottawa.

Picard, André. 1997-11-22. “A Call to Alms: the New Face of Canada.The Toronto Star.

Starn, Randolph. 2005. “A Historian’s Brief Guide to New Museum Studies.The American Historical Review. 110:1. Last accessed 2008-07-20.

High levels of carcinogens and toxic substances have been found in fish, water and sediment in the Athabaska River downstream from Alberta’s huge oil sands projects. The Athabasca River, which flows past Fort McMurray feeds into Lake Athabasca. Fort Chipewyan, an aboriginal village of 1,400 on the northeast shore of Lake Athabasca is 260 kilometers (161 miles) north of Fort McMurray oil sands. Dr. Kevin Timoney, an ecologist with Treeline Environmental Research reported in a recent study that Fort Chipewyan water supply was safe but there were “high levels of arsenic, mercury and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in fish, which many people in Fort Chipewyan, especially members of its Native community, rely on for a substantial portion of their diet (Austen 2007).” Nunee Health Authority’s director Donna Cyprien commissioned the report to investigate the threat of toxins on Mikasew Cree First Nation who live downstream from the Alberta oil sands projects. Residents were concerned about potential carcinogens found in tar and tarlike materials as there is visible oily residue in their drinking water.

“Timoney’s conclusions are in stark contrast to a government-funded study this year on cancer rates that found no elevated disease rates in connection with the Athabasca River (CBC 2007).”

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Notes

1. Thanks to this post for drawing my attention to inappropriate ads on this article.

2. This post was updated February 9, 2009 in response to more recent reports and dramatic changes brought on by the 2009 recession. Negative international attention is focused on Syncrude’s Aurora North Site mine through an environmental headliner that culminated in charges against the company. Timing could not be worse, as Deputy Premier Ron Stevens was in Washington, D.C., marketing Alberta’s energy resources and environmental record to political and business leaders. Concerns about high levels of carcinogens and toxic substances found in fish, water and sediment in the Athabaska River downstream from Alberta’s huge oil sands projects (which are largely self-regulated see RAMP), have also earned international attention. Syncrude was charged under a section of Canada’s Migratory Birds Convention Act the Canadian government and under a section of the Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Acts for failing to prevent the deaths of 500 ducks covered in toxic sludge in April 2008 at their massive toxic tailings pond at their Syncrude’s Aurora North Site mine facility (D’ Aliesio 2009-02-09).”

I have developed this customized Google Map to follow relevant stories and reports that I have come across. It does not include the most relevant or recent information:

This Google map is provided by Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program (RAMP) is “an industry-funded, multi-stakeholder environmental self-monitoring program based on a self-regulation model and currently chaired by Suncor’s Patrick O’Brien.

Timeline

1997- Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program (RAMP) is “an industry-funded, multi-stakeholder environmental monitoring program initiated in 1997. The intent of RAMP is to integrate aquatic monitoring activities across different components of the aquatic environment, different geographical locations, and Athabasca oils sands and other developments in the Athabasca oil sands region so that long-term trends, regional issues and potential cumulative effects related to oil sands and other development can be identified and addressed (RAMP web site 2007).”

2008-04 Syncrude failed to properly deter about 500 ducks from landing on its massive toxic tailings pond, where nearly all of them died (D’ Aliesio 2009-02-09).

2007-11-09 ” Ian Austen reported in his articleStudy Finds Carcinogens in Water Near Alberta Oil Sands Projects” in the New York Times.

2009 Patrick O’Brien (Suncor) is the current Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program (RAMP) Steering Committee chairperson. The RAMP Steering Committee is the multi-stakeholder decision body of RAMP responsible for the management and implementation of the program.

Cooper, Dave. 2009-01-15. “Syncrude seeks deeper tailings pond.” Edmonton Journal.

2009-02-09 “Syncrude charged for duck deaths at tailings pond (D’ Aliesio 2009-02-09).” Negative international attention is focused on Syncrude’s Aurora North Site mine through an environmental tragedy that culminated in charges against the company. Timing could not we worse, as Deputy Premier Ron Stevens was in Washington, D.C., marketing Alberta’s energy resources and environmental record to political and business leaders. Syncrude was charged under a section of Canada’s Migratory Birds Convention Act the Canadian government and under a section of the Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Acts for failing to prevent the deaths of 500 ducks covered in toxic sludge in April 2008 at their massive toxic tailings pond at their Syncrude’s Aurora North Site mine facility (D’ Aliesio 2009-02-09).”

Who’s Who?

Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program (RAMP)

Kevin Timoney, Treeline Ecological Research, 21551 Twp Road 520, Sherwood Park, AB, T8E 1E3

Webliography and Bibliography

Adams, S. and Associates. 1998. Fort Chipewyan Way of Life Study. Stuart Adams and Associates. Vancouver, BC.

Austen, Ian. 2007. “Study Finds Carcinogens in Water Near Alberta Oil Sands Projects.” New York Times. November 7.

CBC. 2007-11-08. “Study contradicts earlier findings on N. Alberta water quality.”

Cooper, Dave. 2009-01-15. “Syncrude seeks deeper tailings pond.” Edmonton Journal.

D’ Aliesio, Renata. 2009-02-09. “Syncrude charged for duck deaths at tailings pond.” Calgary Herald.

Haggett, Scott. 2007. “Canadian village calls for end to oil sand projects.” Reuters. November 8.

Timoney, Kevin. 2003. “An Environmental Assessment of High Conservation Value Forests in the Alberta Portion of the Mid-Continental Canadian Boreal Forest Ecoregion.”

The 192-member nations of the U.N. General Assembly passed the declaration wth 143 votes in favor and 11 abstentions. United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand claimed it gave excessive property and legal powers.

The UN declaration of rights for indigenous peoples states that “indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired.”

That could potentially put in question most of the land ownership in countries, such as those that opposed the declaration, whose present population is largely descended from settlers who took over territory from previous inhabitants. A balancing clause inserted at a late stage in the text says nothing in it can authorize or encourage “any action which would dismember or impair, totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity” of states. That was not good enough for the four objectors, notably Canada, where the issue has become a political football. Many of Canada’s 1 million aboriginal and Inuit people live in overcrowded, unsanitary housing and suffer high rates of unemployment, substance abuse and suicide (Worsnip 2007).

Worsnip, Patrick. 2007. “U.N. Assembly backs indigenous peoples’ rights.” Reuters. September 13.

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Instead of providing new water plants for the 89 First Nations communities under a drinking water advisory, Health Canada will make better signs and posters warning people to stop drinking contaminated water. Kashechewan, made headline news in 2005 when 100s evacuated because water was contaminated by E. coli. It is still a community-in-crisis.

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Instead of providing new water plants for the 89 First Nations communities under a drinking water advisory, Health Canada will make better signs and posters warning people to stop drinking contaminated water. There are 600 First Nations communities concerned by the issue of clean water. The suicide-plagued community-in-crisis Kashechewan First Nation is one of many that [. . .] continue to struggle with poorly designed water plants or overly modern systems that are considered too costly to staff or maintain.” (Barrett 2007)

Kashechewan made headlines in October 2005 after hundreds of its residents were evacuated to several Ontario towns and cities because of drinking water contaminated by E. coli bacteria.The evacuation prompted the federal and Ontario governments to scramble for solutions to the issue of dirty drinking water in First Nations communities (Barrett 2007).” “The October 2005 evacuation of the community of Kashechewan, in northern Ontario, brought to national attention concerns about the water in this remote community. The evacuation came close on the heels of a report from the federal Office of the Auditor General that found that residents of First Nations communities did not benefit from a level of drinking water protection comparable to that of people living off reserves (OAG 2005 ).”

Selected Timeline of water quality problems in First Nations and Inuit communities

1970s In the 1970s project managers of the the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada oversaw all aspects of on-reserve capital projects, largely without the involvement of First Nations communities.

1980s
As a result of downsizing in the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada since the mid-1980s, and in keeping with the devolution policy, there has been an increasing transfer of responsibilities to First Nations and tribal councils for capital and maintenance projects having First Nations including planning and implementation of various program activities on reserves. Consequently, there has been a continual transfer of responsibilities to First Nations and tribal councils for capital and maintenance projects, under funding arrangements with the Department (DINA 1995).


1989-90 Information disclosed in government reports inaccurately portrayed the status of conditions on reserves claiming that 92 percent of houses on reserves received adequate water services in 1993-94 (86 percent in 1989-90). However, a survey report released after our audit showed that only half of the water systems in First Nations communities are not experiencing problems and about one fifth of the systems pose potential health and safety concerns (DINA 1995:2390)


1992 the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada started to develop an Environmental Issues Inventory and Remediation Plan in 1992, Over 1,600 environmental issues including soil contamination, were identified on inhabited reserves, and remediation would involve millions of dollars (DINA 1995).


1995 The Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada was responsible for providing services to over 800 on-reserve communities, most of which are located in rural and remote areas. Populations were rapidly outgrowing their already inadequate infrastructures.

2000  The contamination of drinking water in Walkerton, Ontario led to widespread illness that resulted in seven deaths and
ongoing illness for hundreds of residents. “A subsequent inquiry by Associate Chief Justice Dennis O’Connor of the Ontario Court of Appeal not only probed the causes, but also set out detailed recommendations on how to prevent a recurrence. This “Report of the Expert Panel on Safe Drinking Water for First Nations.” reflects pressures to increase drinking water safety that all jurisdictions in Canada have felt since the Walkerton tragedy.


2001 Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada also “uses funding arrangements with First Nations to define drinking water requirements. However, the wording of the arrangements is general and does not specifically refer to water systems. In 2001, in a submission to the Walkerton Inquiry, the Chiefs of Ontario stated: “First Nations, their consultants and federal officials are left to discern the applicable standards from vague and conflicting language in funding conditions, guidelines and manuals.” This situation had not changed significantly at the time of our audit. (OAG 2005 ).

2003 INAC and Health Canada developed the First Nations Water Management Strategy. The strategy is intended to fix most of the problems identified in the 2001 assessment and substantially improve the quality and safety of drinking water in First Nations communities by 2008. It covers the following seven elements:  developing comprehensive guidelines, policies, and standards; educating on-reserve residents about drinking water issues; clarifying roles and responsibilities; building and upgrading water systems to standards; improving operation and maintenance; providing operator training; and expanding water testing. The departments have been trying to address the last five points since 1995 (OAG 2005 ).


2004 World Health Organization published Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality (3rd Edition).


2005 The Auditor General’s Office concluded that Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Health Canada, and First Nations do not operate under a regulatory regime for drinking water as most provinces do. When it comes to the safety of drinking water, residents of First Nations communities do not benefit from a level of protection comparable with that of people living off reserves.2. There is no statute or regulation requiring the monitoring of the quality and safety of drinking water in First Nations communities. Health Canada relies on its staff and on First Nations to sample and test drinking water quality. Regular tests at the frequency recommended under the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality are not carried out in most First Nations. When the results of these tests are reported to Health Canada, they are not properly recorded; nor are they systematically shared with Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. Finally, not all the information identified was collected by the departments in 2003–04 and some critical indicators were missing. Parliament is not yet receiving enough information about the First Nations Water Management Strategy and the quality and safety of drinking water in First Nations communities (OAG 2005 ).
2005 “Kashechewan made headlines in October 2005 after hundreds of its residents were evacuated to several Ontario towns and cities because of drinking water contaminated by E. coli bacteria.The evacuation prompted the federal and Ontario governments to scramble for solutions to the issue of dirty drinking water in First Nations communities (Barrett 2007).” “The October 2005 evacuation of the community of Kashechewan, in northern Ontario, brought to national attention concerns about the water in this remote community. The evacuation came close on the heels of a report from the federal Office of the Auditor General that found that residents of First Nations communities did not benefit from a level of drinking water protection comparable to that of people living off reserves (OAG 2005 ).”

2006 United Nations Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Article 3 and 31. On June 29, 2006 the Human Rights Council adopted by a roll-call vote of 30 in favour to 2 against and 12 abstentions a resolution on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Declaration was forwarded to the UN General Assembly for approval in 2006. Canada has so far decided not to support this Declaration. Nonetheless, were a Canadian government to decide to support the Declaration, this would be a further indication of the policy direction Canada intended to pursue, and would be consistent with the general movement towards recognizing aboriginal self-government rights “GC Vol 2. 2006.


2006 The most recent Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality published in March, 2006 and last updated in September (HC 2006) did not provide an explicit definition of “safe drinking water” in Canada. There is no explicit definition in any provincial or territorial legislation (GN 2006).
2006 Kashechewan was under a precautionary Drinking Water Advisory, but Indian and Northern Affairs Canada claimed they had completed upgrades to the water systems and the system was closely monitored by a certified operator (DINA 2006 ).

2006
Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Jim Prentice launched a plan of action in March to address drinking water problems in First Nation communities. (CBC 2007)

2006 Indian and Northern Affairs Canada issued a priority list of communities identified as high risk drinking water systems with drinking water advisories in effect (DINA 2006 ). These high priority list in July 2006 included: New Brunswick: Woodstock, Pabineau; Quebec: Kitigan Zibi; Ontario: Constance Lake, Shoal Lake No. 40, Moose Deer Point, Northwest Angle, Ochiichagwe’babigo-ining, Kingfisher, Muskrat Dam Lake, Wabigoon Lake Ojibway; Alberta: Dene Tha’, Driftpile, Frog Lake; British Columbia: Shuswap, Toosey, Toquaht, Lake Babine (Fort Babine), Canoe Creek, Semiahmoo, Taku River Tlingit.”

2006 The Government of Canada’s panel of experts produced this report “Report of the Expert Panel on Safe Drinking Water for First Nations.” Vol. 1. November.

2007 Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine called for Ottawa’s immediate attention to the suicide-plagued community-in-crisis Kashechewan First Nation “Kashechewan and many other aboriginal communities in Ontario continue to struggle with poorly designed water plants or overly modern systems that are considered too costly to staff or maintain” [. . .] A report released in November by federal government adviser Alan Pope made a series of recommendations for Kashechewan, including moving the reserve to within the city limits of Timmins, Ont. – 450 kilometres from its current location on the shores of James Bay. Pope said the move would improve the lives of the community residents, particularly young people, by giving them access to high schools and post-secondary education, as well as economic opportunities and employment. But in a speech on [February 8, 2007] to the International Congress on Ethics in Gatineau, Que., Fontaine spoke out against such a move, saying that First Nations have been subject for too long to policy that amounts to “social engineering.” (Barrett 2007)


2007
Instead of providing new water plants for the 89 First Nations communities under a drinking water advisory, Health Canada will make better signs and posters warning people to stop drinking contaminated water. There are 600 First Nations communities concerned by the issue of clean water. Chief David General of Six Nations, ON knows his community members become ill from drinking tap water. “They would rather have a new water plant instead of a new communications strategy” (CBC 2007).

Kirkey, Sharon. 2011-06-10. “Despite billions spent, conditions on reserves have worsened: AG.” Postmedia News.

Bibligraphy

Barrett, Michael. 2007. Kashechewan ‘Community in Crisis’. Red Lake Net News. February 8.

CBC News. 2007. “Message about bad water on reserves not getting through: study.” May 11
DINA. 2006. “Priority List of First Nation Communities With High Risk Water Systems and Drinking Water Advisories.” Last Updated 2006-07-20

Government of Canada. 2006. “Report of the Expert Panel on Safe Drinking Water for First Nations.” Vol. 1. November 15.
Government of Canada. 2006. “Report of the Expert Panel on Safe Drinking Water for First Nations: Legal Analysis.” Vol. 2. November 15.

Government of Canada. 2006. Report, Presentations and Written Submissions to the Expert Panel on Safe Drinking Water for First Nations.

Health Canada. 2006. “Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines.” >> Environmental & Workplace Health. Last Updated: 2006-09-19.
Health Canada. 2007. “Drinking Water Advisories.” in  First Nations & Inuit Health. May 10.
Office of the Auditor General (OAG). 2005. “Drinking Water in First Nations Communities.” Last Updated: 2005-09-29.

2011-05-25 Former auditor general Sheila Fraser gave her final news conference in which she deplored the fact that First Nations’ access to the basics of life — education, child welfare, clean drinking water and adequate housing — are persistently and dramatically substandard, and in some cases deteriorating.

Kirkey, Sharon. 2011-06-10. “Despite billions spent, conditions on reserves have worsened: AG.” Postmedia News.

Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (DINA). 1995. “On-Reserve Capital Facilities and Maintenance.”

WHO. 2004. Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality (3rd Edition). World Health Organization, Geneva. Website accessed September
17, 2006.

The Guardian, (2003/12/11) Global warming is killing us too, say Inuit. The Inuit people of Canada and Alaska are launching a human rights case against the Bush administration claiming they face extinction because of global warming. By repudiating the Kyoto protocol and refusing to cut US carbon dioxide emissions, (25% of the world’s total).

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Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Nanuq of the North II: Animal Rights vs Human Rights.” Speechless. Uploaded January 3, 2007.

Finally in December 2006 Bush blinks, but why now? The Bush administration took advantage of the way in which all eyes turn towards Santa’s North Pole, where big-eyed talking polar bears, reindeer and seals live in harmony, to announce that they would save these creatures from Nanook of the North. Is this for the environment or for votes? See story.

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Nanook (nanuq Inuktitut for polar bear) was the name of the Eskimo hunter captured on film in the first documentary ever produced, Robert Flaherty’s (1922?) Nanook of the North, — still shown in film studies survey courses. Nanook the Stone Age-20the century hunter became an international legend as a lively, humourous and skillful hunter of polar bears, seals and white fox who tried to bite into the vinyl record Flaherty had brought with him. (The real “Nanook” died of tuberculosis as did countless Inuit from small communities ravaged by one of the worst epidemic’s of tuberculosis on the planet.)

On August 13, 1942 in Walt Disney studios’ canonical animated film Bambi it was revealed that many animals with cute eyes could actually talk and therefore shared human values. Nanook and his kind became the arch enemy of three generations of urban North Americans and Europeans. Hunters were bad. Cute-eyed animals that could talk were good. Today many animals’ lives have been saved from these allegedly cruel hunters by the billion dollar cute-eyed-talking-animals-industry.

The White House has once again come to the rescue of these vulnerable at-risk animals. (There was an entire West Wing episode in which a gift of moose meat was rejected by all staff since it came from a big-eyed-talking-animal. See Ejesiak and Flynn-Burhoe (2005) for more on how the urban debates pitting animal rights against human rights impacted on the Inuit.) Who would ever have suspected that the Bush administration cared so much about the environment that they would urge an end to the polar bear hunt, already a rare phenomenon to many Inuit since their own quotas protected them?

When I lived in the north the danger for polar bears did not reside in the hearts of hunters. Nanuq the polar bear who could not talk was starving. He hung out around hamlets like Churchill, Baker Lake or Iqaluit, looking for garbage since this natural habitat was unpredicatable as the climate changed. Some people even insisted that there was no danger from the polar bear who had wandered into town since he was ’skinny.’ That did not reassure me! I would have preferred to know that he was fat, fluffly and well-fed. Polar bears die from exhaustion trying to swim along their regular hunting routes as ice floes they used to be able to depend on melted into thin air literally. They die, not because there are not enough seals but because they need platform ice in the right seasons. That platform ice is disappearing. They die with ugly massive tumours in them developed from eating char, seals and other Arctic prey whose bodies are riddled with southern toxins that have invaded the pristine, vulnerable northern ecosystem. Nanuq is dying a slow painful death. Nanuq is drowning. Although he doesn’t sing he is a canary for us all.

Climate change and southern industrial toxins affect the fragile ecosystem of the Arctic first. The Inuit claimed in 2003,“Global warming is killing us too, say Inuit .”This is why Sheila Watt-Cloutier laid a law suit against the administration of the United States of America. Now the handful of Job-like Inuit who managed to survive the seal hunt fiasco of the 1980s and are still able hunt polar bear, will have yet another barrier put between them and the ecosystem they managed and protected for millennia. When I see Baroque art and read of the Enlightenment, I think Hudson’s Bay and the whalers in the north. It wasn’t the Inuit who caused the mighty leviathan to become endangered. Just how enlightened are we, the great grandchildren of the settlers today? Who is taking care of our Other grandparents?

Since the first wave of Inuit activists flooded the Canadian research landscape fueled by their frustrations with academic Fawlty Towers they morphed intergenerational keen observation of details, habits of memory, oral traditions and determination with astute use of artefacts and archives to produce focused and forceful research. When Sheila Watt-Cloutier representing the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC) was acknowledged with two awards in one year for work done to protect the environment, I wondered how many cheered her on.

I don’t cheer so much anymore. I am too overwhelmed, too hopeless to speak. I myself feel toxic, perhaps another pollutant from the south — my name is despair. I don’t want to dampen the enthusiasm of those activists who still have courage to continue. For myself, I feel like the last light of the whale-oil-lit kudlik is Flicktering and there is a blizzard outside.

Footnotes:

From wikipedia entry Sheila Watt-Cloutier

In 2002, Watt-Cloutier was elected[1][4] International Chair of ICC, a position she would hold until 2006[1]. Most recently, her work has emphasized the human face of the impacts of global climate change in the Arctic. In addition to maintaining an active speaking and media outreach schedule, she has launched the world’s first international legal action on climate change. On December 7, 2005, based on the findings of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, which projects that Inuit hunting culture may not survive the loss of sea ice and other changes projected over the coming decades, she filed a petition, along with 62 Inuit Hunters and Elders from communities across Canada and Alaska, to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, alleging that unchecked emissions of greenhouse gases from the United States have violated Inuit cultural and environmental human rights as guaranteed by the 1948 American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.[5]

Digitage elements:

Caspar David Friedrich’s (1824) The Sea of Ice
Tujjaat Resolution Island, abandoned, DEW line station DINA Northern Contaminated Sites Program (CSP) web site
My photo of ice floes in Charlottetown harbour, March 2000
A section of my acrylic painting entitled Nukara (2000)

Selected Bibliography

Eilperin, Juliet. (2006). ““U.S. Wants Polar Bears Listed as Threatened.” Washington Post Staff Writer. Wednesday, December 27, 2006; Page A01

Gertz, Emily. 2005. The Snow Must Go On. Inuit fight climate change with human-rights claim against U.S. Grist: Environmental News and Commentary. 26 Jul 2005.

The Guardian. 2003. ““Inuit to launch human rights case against the Bush Administration.”

DEW line contaminated sites in Nunavut.

www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,1104241,00….

www.grist.org/news/maindish/2005/07/26/gertz-inuit/index….

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