Annual Public Meeting 2021

Time 0:22:40


Robert Vineberg, Chairperson

Good day everyone.

The video you just watched comes from our online Contributions experience. It illustrates the ongoing impact families coming to Canada have on their communities. This content complements recent updates to the Canadian Immigration Story exhibition at the Museum, that honours the tremendous contributions immigrants make to this country.

(Translated from French)
On behalf of the Board of Trustees and all staff, I would like to welcome you to our tenth Annual Public Meeting. Like last year, due to COVID-19, we are holding our Annual Public Meeting online. This comes with the advantage of expanding access to the Canadian population.

Today, we are coming to you from the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax and I am speaking from the beautiful Canadian Museum for Human Rights in my hometown, Winnipeg. With this in mind I would like to acknowledge that Winnipeg is on Treaty 1 territory, the original lands of the Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and Dene people, and on the traditional homeland of the Métis Nation. I also wish to acknowledge that Pier 21 is located in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaw People. We are all treaty people and are all fortunate to share in this land we call Canada.

(Translated from French)
The Canadian Museum of Immigration collects, preserves, and shares stories of journeys and arrivals, settling and impact.

Today, we are reporting on the twelve-month period beginning April 1, 2020, just 18 days after the pandemic first closed our doors. It was, to say, an unusual year; a year of radical changes in people’s lives, a year that included a major tragedy in the Museum’s home province of Nova Scotia; and a year of reckoning with the reality of systemic racism in our societies and institutions. It was also a year that brought out some of our best qualities. We cared for each other and we adapted and innovated to preserve our communities and our country in the face of enormous challenge. At Pier 21, we kept the Museum’s mission alive and we showed resiliency. And, finally, we began to welcome visitors and tourists back to the Museum.

(Translated from French)
Today, the process of reopening and recovery is on the right track. We are looking forward to welcoming visitors from around the world in larger numbers in our physical space, and we are pursuing many digital initiatives which we made use of during the pandemic and which allowed us to continue to serve the mandate of the Museum on a national level.

I want to recognize and thank all those who have worked to keep the Museum’s mission, not only alive, but thriving during this time.

(Translated from French)
We would not be able to make these stories known without the generous support of the Government of Canada.

And in a year where revenues from admissions, rentals, and our gift shop were deeply impacted, we are thankful to have benefitted from special COVID-19 funding from the federal government. We also want to recognize the many individual, corporate, and foundation donors who continued their commitment during this turbulent period and who continue to support us today.

Your support allows the Museum to offer thought-provoking programs and experiences for our visitors of all ages.

(Translated from French)
We thank you for the bricks you purchase, the memberships to the Pier 21 Club, the programs that you have sponsored, and everything that your generosity makes possible at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21.

I want to extend a special thank you and welcome to all those donors and supporters who are joining us today on this call.

It is also my pleasure to also recognize the Museum’s staff, volunteers, and management team, led by Marie Chapman, our CEO.

(Translated from French)
Congratulations to you all, and infinite thanks.

And finally, I would like to personally acknowledge the work of my fellow trustees. Your commitment and stewardship serve the Museum so well. Collectively, staff, management, and our board of trustees bring to life our vision of connecting Canadians to our immigration history, past and present. Thank you. Merci. Miigwech. And now I’ll turn the microphone over to our CEO, Marie Chapman.

Marie Chapman, CEO

Thank you, Rob, and thank you for your unwavering leadership and support of the Museum.

The Museum’s mandate is to explore the theme of immigration to Canada in order to enhance public understanding of the experiences of immigrants as they arrived in Canada, of the vital role immigration has played in the building of Canada and the contributions of immigrants to Canada’s culture, economy and way of life.

I am here in the recently renovated Contributions section of the Canadian Immigration Hall. Behind me is a map of the world where visitors can add their story of their journey to Canada.

I have a few of my favourite tags that I have selected to read to you today. “Parents were Boat People from Vietnam. My dad was almost stranded at sea – arrived in March with no winter clothes. They’re only here, as am I, because Canada was accepting refugees at the time.” « Mon papa est arrivé au Canada en 1990 à l’âge de 14 ans. Aujourd’hui il travaille en immigration. » “My husband and I moved from Brazil to Canada in 2016. Next week we’ll take the oath to become Canadians!

(Translated from French)
As a museum of stories, we collect oral histories and personal accounts. The stories that we share are not only those of the nearly one million immigrants who passed through the port of entry into Canada here at Pier 21. They are also the stories that represent the diversity of the newcomers who have chosen to settle in Canada, from first contact to today.

The Museum was closed to the public for a good deal of the 2020/21 fiscal year. Even when we were open, closed borders and travel restrictions meant we welcomed fewer in-person visitors. But we, like so many organizations, adapted and innovated to continue to deliver the Museum’s mission.

With the help of a major gift from Beatrice Crawford and her family we launched our new virtual field trips, a digital offering that not only keeps us accessible to school groups, but expands our reach making it as easy to reach students in British Columbia or Nunavut as neighbouring Truro, Nova Scotia.

(Translated from French)
Our public programming moved from programming in-house to programming online, notably offering events for Holocaust Education Week, African Heritage Month, and Canada Day. When public health regulations allowed, we also organised in-person events, such as the launch of John Tattrie’s book, entitled Peace by Chocolate: The Hadhad Family’s Remarkable Journey from Syria to Canada, and we were again able to participate in Nocturne, Halifax’s annual artistic experience.

(Translated from French)
The Scotiabank Family History Centre, which helps people research the history of the arrival of their families, remained active, responding to inquiries online.

Our Welcome Home to Canada program, through which we hire recent immigrants as a bridge to meaningful permanent employment in Canada, continued, albeit with lower numbers based on physical distancing requirements within our office spaces.

Our most notable project last year was the completion of the physical installation of an immersive 45 foot- long curved screen multimedia experience in the Canadian Immigration Story exhibition. In hard times, you look for silver linings. The timing of the installation was one of those. We were very lucky to have already been planning to close for this project. When we reopened in April, we were all grateful to see visitors experience and engage with this inspiring content as we had hoped they would.

(Translated from French)
Meanwhile, our second travelling exhibition, Refuge Canada, was presented in Nanaimo, Lethbridge, and Kingston, with generous support from TD Bank Group, helping us extend the doors of the Museum across the country.

We partnered with The Chyssem Project to collect Tibetan- Canadian oral histories marking 50 years of Tibetan immigration to Canada. Collaborating with interviewers in the Tibetan-Canadian community was an opportunity to add new stories from under-represented voices.

Our team’s hard at work planning for upcoming exhibitions, including the World of Yousuf Karsh: a special exhibition of portraits by the notable Armenian-Canadian photographer. This exhibit features over 100 images of major figures of the 20th century including acclaimed African Nova Scotian contralto Portia White. It’s opening in March 2022, in collaboration with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; I look forward to sharing it with you.

The Museum produced season two of our podcasts, Countless Journeys, and D’innomblables voyages, two distinct shows, one in each official language, inspired by our theme of contributions. From Sonja Bata, to Jacques Bobat, Tre Anthony to Wally Buono you will learn more about some Canadians you know and be introduced to the amazing stories of others.

(Translated from French)
Host Kim Thúy returns for her second season of D’innombrables voyages, and Paolo Petropaolo takes back the reins for the second season of Countless Journeys. As I speak to you now, production is underway on the third season. You can find these on your preferred podcast platforms.

(Translated from French)
Another important step was the publication of the book Pier 21: A History, by Museum historians Steven Schwinghamer and Jan Raska. It is gratifying to see that years of research and hard work are being well received.

Last December the museum was certified by the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification program which works to help improve accessibility of the built environment in Canada. It remains a priority for our almost 100 year old building to be accessible to all of our visitors.

On the philanthropy front, like so many others, we have felt the weight of COVID- 19 and the impact on our ability to raise funds. And yet, as history has shown, it is in times of adversity that we come together and are uplifted by others. The pandemic fuelled our team to find creative ways to stay connected with Canadians across the country. And just as our staff and volunteers rose, so too did our donors.

Despite having to cancel, and postpone, and postpone again, our fundraisers for the year, patrons still showed their support by making donations in lieu of attending and sponsoring these events. Many of our donors still gave, and some gave even more.

(Translated from French)
Thank you to the members of the Pier 21 Club for their leadership gifts and to all of our donors for continuing to show their support with annual donations, the bricks on our walls, and much more. We are so thankful for the generosity and the kindness you have shown. It has made and continues to make all the difference, it is what has allowed us keep sharing stories of hope, love, and courage when we had the greatest need.

The Wadih M. Fares Wall of Tribute is a donor wall established for organizations, consulates, and embassies to highlight how their communities have contributed to Canada’s culture, economy, and way of life. This year a new plaque was dedicated by Bassam Nahas’ to the Philae Shriners of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, an organization of which he was the first Lebanese Canadian Potentate.

The Museum also received a new major gift from Wadih M. Fares, a long-time donor and champion of the museum. This support is crucial to our recovery. Whenever asked about his contributions to the Museum, Wadih humbly references famous Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran: “I felt in my heart to give a little, because I was given so much.” Thank you, Wadih, for paying it forward. You are a shining example of how immigrants enrich our country every single day.

We are also extremely grateful for the ongoing support from RBC, the R. Howard Webster Foundation, and Scotiabank who help us fund youth, newcomer, and volunteer programs respectively that enrich the visitor experience and add greater relevance and meaning to the stories that we share.

(Translated from French)
Thanks again to all of our donors, our partners, and the government of Canada, for helping us share the countless journeys that brought so many of us to this country, so that together we can build a stronger Canada.

I look forward to welcoming you back to the Museum soon. Don’t miss the opportunity to see Karsh’s portraits of some of the 20th century’s most iconic figures in person.

Before moving on to the Q&A section of our Annual Public Meeting, - I would like to close with a video that we created for Canada Day 2020, at a time when so many businesses and institutions were in lockdown. It speaks to our collective determination to go on and go forward with our partners. It reminds us of that moment in time, and how together we were, even as we were forced to stay apart. As we look forward to continued recovery, its lyrics and spirit are equally relevant today.

Welcome back. We have received some questions prior to the start of this meeting and will now answer these.

If there are no further questions, thank you for taking the time to join us today. Good bye.