Message from Simon Brault, Director and CEO, Canada Council for the Arts

In the past year, I’ve seen firsthand the importance and renewed relevance of having the Canada Council, the Canadian Commission for UNESCO and UNESCO at many of the same events and involved in similar activities. Each contributes in our respective and complementary ways to building a future of peace, equity and sustainable development.

In 2016-17, I had the opportunity to participate in many forums, including the first G7 Culture Summit in Italy, the launch of the UNESCO Chair on Cultural Diversity, and the Arts in a Digital World Summit. They all addressed issues like migration, cultural and intangible heritage, the many consequences of climate change, and digital’s impact on freedom of expression and on a diverse artistic and cultural presence. Culture is a key topic at tables where the sustainable development of our society is discussed, and I’ve often said that the arts must have a seat at these tables. I’m pleased to note that the Commission and the Council are often sitting side-byside, giving momentum to these discussions.

If we are to succeed in advancing issues such as culture’s place in human development, Indigenous self-determination, the conservation of artistic and cultural heritage, and arts education, we must find new ways to act and interact.

This year, the Commission made great strides to meet its strategic commitments to mobilize and involve youth and Indigenous Peoples in its programs. Congratulations to this network of networks for the incredible work it does to advance our respective, yet increasingly intersecting, mandates and objectives.

Simon Brault, O.C., O.Q.
Director and CEO, Canada Council for the Arts

Message from Christina Cameron, President, Canadian Commission for UNESCO

Dear Members and Friends of CCUNESCO,

We celebrate a milestone in 2017: the Canadian Commission for UNESCO turns 60 alongside the Canada Council for the Arts, under whose authority we operate. Our world has experienced profound transformation over these last six decades. Some of these extraordinary changes have been for the better, such as the invention of technologies that make learning and knowledge sharing easier than ever before. We have also witnessed significant efforts to protect cultural and natural heritage which have led to the adoption of important world conventions. But not all changes have been so constructive.

We are currently witnessing the rise of populism and radicalization in many parts of the world. Open and pluralistic societies are under threat by nationalist and fundamentalist movements. Attacks on freedom of expression and cultural heritage continue, and the effects of climate change are being felt worldwide—sometimes worsened by a lack of will to address this paramount global crisis.

Promoting peace, enhancing cooperation and reinforcing solidarity among humankind are more important than ever. This is why we need a strong and credible United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), one that continues to exercise its “soft power” within the UN system. UNESCO has shown, over the course of its history, the difference it can make by bringing together governments, experts, communities and individuals, fostering critical discussions, and supporting concrete actions to address common issues.

There is no doubt in my mind that UNESCO’s National Commissions remain indispensable in helping UNESCO fulfill its ambitious mandate. CCUNESCO, along with its members, networks and partners, has been recognized over the past 60 years as an essential player. Our voice, together with the voices of Canadian civil society, continues to be extremely valued by governments and broader UNESCO circles.

At 60 years old, CCUNESCO has no plans for retirement. Our work positions CCUNESCO in a leadership role so we can continue to exercise a strong influence at the domestic and international levels. We have a chance to help shape the world we borrowed from future generations. Let’s celebrate our accomplishments and reflect on the world we want to live in 60 years from now.

Christina Cameron, C.M., FRSC
President, Canadian Commission for UNESCO

Message from Sébastien Goupil, Secretary-General, Canadian Commission for UNESCO

A Network of Networks Serving Canadians

Since joining the Commission in August 2016, I have had the privilege of meeting with our members and networks. I have noticed the extent to which they actively promote UNESCO values and implement its programs across the country. They also contribute to enhancing Canada’s profile and maintaining its good reputation on the international scene.

When I accepted the position of Secretary-General, I made a commitment to further enhance the actions and contributions of our networks and members. With the Executive Committee’s support, I have been working with the team to make our Commission even more engaging, relevant and visible, three elements that are the focus of our 2014–2021 Strategic Plan.

With this framework in mind, we are strengthening the moral and intellectual role of the Commission, which must, in particular, take greater advantage of the significant intellectual capital and knowledge within its reach. We also want to raise awareness of our networks’ contributions, including their capacity to implement sustainable development goals.

Over the past few months, we have worked hard with the Executive Committee to review the guidelines and composition of all our advisory committees. For example, we have ensured the revitalization of our sectoral commissions, which remain a unique tool for promoting a critical examination of priority and emerging issues. We hope that they will have a greater added value and contribute further to our members’ involvement. At the same time, we are developing action strategies for our five major activity sectors: culture, education, natural sciences, humanities and social sciences, as well as information and communication.

Since it is essential for us to forge strategic partnerships to increase our impact, we are reviewing the way that we work with our collaborators. The objective is to prioritize the Commission as an indispensable partner, including for the purpose of promoting the involvement of young people and Indigenous Peoples in UNESCO’s work, two of our crosscutting priorities.

I invite you to read this report to fully understand the extent and the pertinence of our efforts and accomplishments.

I want to thank all our members and partners for their commitment and support.

Sébastien Goupil
Secretary-General, Canadian Commission for UNESCO