Expanding the narrative - Ontario Heritage Trust

Menu

Discover how the Ontario Heritage Trust is expanding the narrative around our past and our heritage through its many programs and activities.

In Canada and throughout North America, an important conversation is happening about the historical value of statues, memorials and place names, about who we honour in society for their contributions, and how we do it. This conversation has prompted some critical thinking about our history and heritage, discussions that have stretched beyond professional forums to more public debate about who or what should be commemorated and how those decisions are made. There are strong opinions on all aspects of the discussion, and it’s a conversation that needs to be heard. The underlying question is about what we value and who we want to be.

This is part of a broader conversation about whose history is being told, about gender, people of colour and the economically disenfranchised, and others whose stories have been overlooked or intentionally omitted from the authorized discussion. It’s about what we conserve and how such choices are made, about decolonizing history, building bridges of reconciliation, and creating a sense of belonging. This should come as no surprise. Think for a moment about how we have gotten here. In terms of our public history, we’ve created a national identity expressed through historical sites and monuments focused on forts, institutions, historic sites and collections, defined by society’s most influential communities, and based on western European traditions of the monumental, the grand, the rare and the impressive.

Over the past several years, the Trust has made a concerted effort to share stories of all of the people of Ontario – providing a forum to look back over more than 10,000 years at the people who have called this province home. The Trust continues to re-define the narrative – to ensure that the heritage we protect and the stories that we tell are a respectful, accurate and authentic portrayal of the peoples who have lived on and contributed to this land known as Ontario.

We are working with communities across the province to share their own stories in their own voices, to celebrate the diversity of experiences, languages, customs and perspectives of different people and different places. This approach is embodied in the way the Trust forms policy, the way it listens and acts, and fundamentally how it respects others. As individuals, organizations and communities, we have the ability to choose what we pass along to those who follow.

Additional resources

Explore stories that expand the narrative


How the Ontario Heritage Trust is expanding the narrative: 

Policy 

Expanding the narrative is a long-term responsibility. This commitment is reflected in the policies that guide our work:

Resources

  • The stories of underrepresented communities should be heard in their own voices. We gather and share these stories and resources through publications, events and site programming.