On 16 September 2021, the Bill Graham Centre hosted an important forum entitled Lost and Fonds. Declassification of Government Documents in Canada. Originally available as a zoom presentation, the Bill Graham Centre has now made the entire forum available on Youtube at this link: Lost and Fonds: Declassification of Government Documents in Canada — Bill Grah Lam Centre (utoronto.ca)
Members of the CNHH will likely already know many of the key speakers, including retired archivist Paul Marsden who has been leading public advocacy work for improved access to government information. In addition to Marsden, the forum included rising academic stars, Susan Colbourn and Tim Sayle, along with Senator Peter Boehm, Ian Wilson, a retired National Archivist, and others. I spoke on historians and their duty to the documentary record, specifically drawing upon my own naval history research and the value of adopting an activist feminist lens to revisit prior research on operational intelligence to discover what I and other historians had missed in previous examinations of open Canadian government records on this topic.
Here is a summary of the speakers for the session:
2 pm: Welcoming Remarks: John Meehan
2:05: Paul Marsden on “Lost and Fonds”: the LRC article and next steps
2:15 Panel One: Chaired by Tim Sayle:
2:20: Transparency in the Making of National Security Policy: Thomas Juneau
2:30: The Historian’s Task and the Documentary Record: Isabel Campbell
2;40: History and the Policymaker: Sen. Peter Boehm
2:50: Panel Two: Chaired by Ian Wilson
2:55: ATIP and the Historian: Susan Colbourn
3:05: The View from LAC: Daniel German
3:15: The View from OIC: Allison Knight
3:25: Q&A: Moderated by John Meehan
The topic of access to Canadian government records is of interest to all historians as well as to members of the public and especially to advocates for refugees and other vulnerable groups. Without accurate and complete records, it is impossible to evaluate Canadian policies and their historical influences upon vulnerable peoples and others.
I hope that members of the CNHH will take the time to watch the Youtube video if they did not get a chance to join our zoom session. And also wishing all members the best as we struggle together during this time when historical research has become particularly difficult to undertake.
Isabel Campbell, Senior Historian, Directorate of History and Heritage, National Defence Headquarters, Ottawa, Ontario.