The Heritage Reset Project

How is heritage conservation serving as a positive, essential, progressive force for reconciliation, climate action, affordable housing, social justice and more?

The Heritage Reset project is working to accelerate key conversations within the sector about our values and the purpose of our work.  This month, we are seeking examples of the ‘Heritage Reset’ in action:

We need your examples of heritage rehabilitation projects, heritage places, community activities or events that inspire the heritage conservation field and the general public with what heritage places can do and be in society, using real examples in Canada.  We are looking for examples where the use, adaptation or interpretation of heritage places is making a difference in ways that really matter now:  eg. climate action, reconciliation, equity and inclusion, economic vitality and/or cultural resurgence. 

Ideally, examples will be recent (eg. projects completed within the last 5-8 years), or reflect current ideas.  These examples will form the basis for producing podcasts, videos and written materials for a future website that will serve as a resource and source of inspiration for the heritage field and for the general public.  

The desired scope is national, reflecting the breadth and diversity of Canada – but please focus on the examples you are personally familiar with, providing the following information:

  • A brief description of the project, place, person or activity that explains what it is inspirational
  • Location, contact information or urls to learn more.

Here are two examples to get you started:   

Single Room Occupancy Renewal Initiative, Vancouver, BC

Heritage conservation creates employment and skills training opportunities

The Single Room Occupancy Renewal Initiative (SRI) provided heritage conservation skills training and employment for 1500 individuals, including Downtown Eastside community members, while contributing to the revitalization of historic neighbourhoods. This project saw thirteen former hotels, all municipal heritage sites, in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Chinatown, and Gastown areas restored and revitalised. They are now operated by non-profit partner organisations and house approximately 900 individuals at risk of homelessness.  “…Hundreds of people, many of whom were homeless, are today gainfully employed and have hope and a brighter future because of the SRO Renewal Initiative partnerships” says Marcia Nozick, the CEO of EMBERS, one of the non-profit partner organisations (BC Housing News Release, 24 March 2017).

Val Marie Grain Elevator, Val Marie, SK

Preserving the past as a pathway to holistic health for individuals and communities

The village of Val Marie had purchased a dilapidated wooden grain elevator on the edge of its small grid of streets for $1 and raised $60,000 to repair the roof, shingles and siding. After restoring the building, however, nobody was sure what to do next. Heritage Saskatchewan led a project focused on what it meant to locals, asking high school students to talk to their parents and grandparents about their memories of the facility; seniors shared stories about the role it had played as the village’s social and economic hub. This led to a booklet and a collection of short films, but more important, it deepened the cross-generational relationships that are the core of community vitality and resilience. “When these relationships are nurtured over time, there’s a real potential for lasting change to happen,” Kristen Catherwood of Heritage Saskatchewan. “That’s the most gratifying thing about this type of project — stronger bonds within a community. As human beings, our wellbeing is tied into connections to other people, and to place.” Read more in the current issue of Locale – the Magazine of the National Trust.

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