by Lydia Wytenbroek
The Canadian Network of Humanitarian History (CNHH), an affiliate member of the Canadian Historical Association, held its sixth annual meeting and workshop on June 6, 2019 at UBC. The meeting offered an opportunity to reflect on network activities over the past year. CNHH members have furthered the study of the history of humanitarianism and development assistance through a range of exciting and innovative publications. Over the past year, more than a dozen original blog posts were published on the CNHH website on innovative topics pertaining to development aid and humanitarianism. Several CNHH members also contributed chapters to the open-access book, A Samaritan State Revisited: Historical Perspectives on Canadian Foreign Aid, published in 2019 by University of Calgary Press. As we reflected on the success of these posts and publications, we also discussed the need for a broader, comprehensive project that explores the history of Canadian development efforts. The opportunity to network, discuss the future of humanitarian history and consider future collaborative projects was a highlight of the meeting.
CNHH, members also had the opportunity to hear about the work of humanitarian organizations that are active in Vancouver. Rebecca Mellet from The British Columbia Council for Cooperation, Muhammad Iqbal from The Maria-Helena Foundation and Grant Duckworth from Vancouver branch of the Canadian International Council attended the workshop portion of the meeting and shared about the work of these organizations. CNHH has worked to foster connections between academics and practitioners, and it was great to converse with members from the international development community about ways that their organizations might want to think about preserving and using their historical memory and records. The history of Canadian involvement in development work is complex and extensive. There is much to be learned from organizations that are involved in this important work. It was a pleasure to converse with members of the community and to consider ways to preserve and tell their important stories.