By William Tait
The Second Canadian Workshop on the History of Humanitarian Aid took place on 30 May 2015 at Carleton University in Ottawa. The event built on a workshop held last year where historians from across Canada, archivists from Library and Archives Canada and Carleton University Archives, a well as humanitarian practitioners from Partnership Africa Canada, Oxfam, and MATCH International Women’s Fund met to welcome Dr Kevin O’Sullivan from the National University of Ireland. Kevin was a catalyst for the first workshop in 2014 when he travelled to Canada to conduct research. In his latest book O’Sullivan has likened Irish and Canadian use of soft power through aid and development1. Under the organisation of Dominique Marshall, Professor and Chair of the Department of History at Carleton and former President of the Canadian Historical Association, a website was created after the 2014 meeting to link a growing online collaboration of aid practitioners, archivists, and academics interested in preserving the history of humanitarian action both in Canada and elsewhere. O’Sullivan returned to Carleton this year to brief the workshop and members of the Canadian Network on Humanitarian History (CNHH) on developments in the field and to continue to expand collaboration with European partners.
Welcome to the new website of the Canadian Network on Humanitarian History: aidhistory.ca. In this website you will find the materialization of the wishes of the members of the network, who expressed their feelings and necessities on what the website should include during the Second Canadian Workshop on the History of Humanitarian Aid, which was held on May 30 2015.
By Rebecca Henfrey
Establishing a Program Mandate; what kind of deliverables are we looking for?
- Knowledge Mobilization: One of the most important goals of undertaking these projects is demonstrating their practicality. NGOs want you to be able to show that the knowledge you gather has value and from there the community is invested. If there is a formulaic way to do this and potentially demonstrate how this can aid in funding, it can serve to work for both parties involved.
- Methodology and Information Sharing: This network will be used to share syllabi, teaching resources and materials and workshops. Individuals will be able to blog about their teaching experiences and perhaps elaborate more upon their professional and practical experiences in this field, providing information on their methodologies
- Networking and Twitter: Twitter can not only be used as a teaching resource, it can also be used as a platform to set up courses and integrate teaching about humanitarian agencies an NGOs into ‘mainstream’ courses as it allows professors to broaden their approach.
- Module Development and Shared Classes: One potential project that can be undertaken by multiple individuals is the development of modules that can be placed in a classroom or workshop environment. It would be a helpful resource that could be provided to instructors without requiring them to do too much legwork.
- Cultivation of Collaborative Discussion: The encouragement of collaborative discussion within the website’s forums was identified as a key priority for the program. Finding a way to connect individuals, whether that be for the purposes of scholarly feedback or discussion amongst students, researchers, instructors and other members is very important.
- Growth of Membership: Once a critical mass of members has been reached, the chances of organizing a conference increase. Currently there is a sense of isolation due to the fact that this is a developing field. One proposed way to encourage membership numbers was to engage postgrad students. Because of the emerging and developing nature of this field, it has to be done organically, from the bottom up with engagement alongside deliverance of information.
- Attendance of Conferences: Another mandate of this program was to reach out to other historians and practitioners in the field by attending conferences. CCI was listed as a potential
- Establish methods of relationship buildlng
Final Priorities; as identified and recorded on whiteboard and through discussion
- Establish and maintain trust between NGOs and Researchers
- Keep distance and respect in these relationships
- Look at models of partnership
- Non-State Humanitarianism
- Humanitarian history as a part of history of imperialism, globalization, development
- Share readings, contacts
- Organization of academic panels
- Publication of special issues of journals
- Establishment of international networks
- Teach, supervise and discuss
- Interest and organize volunteer work
- Foster inter-disciplinarity in research and work
- Workshop in NGO building next time?
- Organize Archives/Research aids
- Preserve archives
- Identify content of photos
- Identify and collect personal collections
- Conduct oral histories
- Present history of NGO website
- Talks to create interest
- History workshops for new NGO staff, to avoid mistakes and to raise funds
By Rebecca Henfrey
The second Major discussion of the day centered on the creation of the network’s website. Shawn Antcil, a web developer and designer from Carleton University ran this presentation and recorded the feedback given by members. The following is a brief summary of considerations and proposals put forth by Shawn and other various individuals.
Highlights of Shawn’s Presentation
By Rebecca Henfrey
Prior to the first official discussion of the day, participants were invited to give personal introductions. The following are brief summaries of each individual’s introductions, which outline their name, position or involvement with this society and what they would like this workshop to do for them.