The Government of Ontario has just released for comment a summary of the ‘core elements’ of its coming Culture Strategy. While as one might expect this spells out this government’s political viewpoint as Liberals, it seems to the writer to speak to the urban multi-ethnic and increasingly non-European population of our largest cities as the primary target of its future cultural endeavours. These cities comprise much of the population base for the present Liberal majority in our Legislature.
Aboriginal nations are to get some attention as a part of a cultural mosaic that needs much greater recognition in the Government’s view, but what is most striking to the writer is the absence of even one mention of the origins of our provinces cultural identity, our sense of who we are today and what we believe in, that comes from the two hundred years and more of commerce and settlement of peoples from France, the British Isles and the United States: adventurers who created the British colony that eventually became modern Ontario. Thus a province with a motto “Loyal She Remains” and a flag that illustrates that identity seems to be headed firmly to where such indications of from whence it came may expect little or no recognition.
The only hint at socio-cultural origins is indirect and to be found in reference to the physical evidence for this past. In the section of this brief document headed ‘Conserve and promote Ontario’s diverse cultural heritage’ we find “develop additional tools to help communities identify and protect their cultural heritage, including guidance on cultural heritage landscapes….“, and in ‘Connect people and communities by sharing and celebrating our diverse heritage and cultures’ is “provide online access to information about Ontario’s cultural heritage, including designated heritage properties and provincial heritage properties“.
Pretty lame stuff for we who believe that our future must incorporate an understood past and is not created through one government’s enthusiasm for engineering all the cultures of its present and future urban populations into a potpourri in which all are to be honoured without reference to historical contribution in creating the society and polity that they enjoy today.
by Ian Keith Anderson