Showing posts with label UNESCO. Show all posts
Showing posts with label UNESCO. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

The Staff Cable Houses: Part of the Telecommunications History of Heart's Content

In February of 2023, Heart's Content, NL and Valentia, Ireland, were added to the Tentative List for UNESCO World Heritage Status, one step closer to recognition ten years in the making. The two sites for the first Transatlantic cable, laid in 1866, connected Europe and North America and enabled quicker and more reliable communication between the two continents. The Anglo-American Cable Company established a permanent cable station in Heart's Content in 1875/76. One of the buildings they constructed was the Cable Staff Houses, a duplex for housing employees of the cable station. 

Photo of the Cable Staff Houses #1 and #2 in 2017.

Built in 1882, the house was designed by J.T. Southcott, a prominent architect in Newfoundland for introducing the Second Empire Style of architecture. 

The duplex has undergone significant restorations since its designation as a Registered Heritage Structure in 1995 to preserve and maintain this building. The Cable Staff House has a mansard roof, an architectural feature associated with the Second Empire Style and Southcott's designs. 

The Cable Staff House Mansard Roof (L): Prior to restoration in mid 1990s (R): Following restorations in 2017.

The building also has decorative eaves brackets, visible in the pictures below.

Before and after pictures of the buildings eaves brackets. (L): Picture prior to restoration in 1990s (R): Photo after restoration in 2017.

Photo of the Cable Staff House's windows. (L): Photo from mid 1990s (R): After restoration in 2017.

Another key design element of the Cable Staff Houses is the variety of styles of windows, some of which are 2/2 while others are larger and multi-paned. The house also has several dormer windows, which were restored in 2018. 

The Cable Staff Houses received the Newfoundland Historic Trust's Southcott Award for Restoration in 1999.

You can learn more about the Cable Staff Houses at the links below:

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Chapter by HeritageNL authors in new book - Traditional Food: Sharing Experiences from the Field

The International Information and Networking Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region has recently published the book Living Heritage Series – Traditional Food in collaboration with the ICHNGO Forum’s #HeritageAlive. The Living Heritage Series is a serial publication on regional/national transmission and safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage elements. It focuses on a different topic each time, discussing the relevant intangible cultural heritage of various regions to raise the visibility of cultural diversity emphasized by the UNESCO.

Living Heritage Series-Traditional Food showcases creative and historical traditional food from around the world through contributions from 16 writers in various countries, including a chapter by Dale Jarvis and Terra Barrett of Heritage NL.

You can download the book as a pdf right here.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Fisheries Heritage, Oral History, Salvation Army Citadel in Elliston, and more

For this month's update, we are showcasing more of our built heritage work, with updates on work related to our fisheries heritage program, and an expansion of our documentation work on our registered heritage structures, including the newly designated Salvation Army Citadel in Elliston. Also, we have more information on our ongoing project to digitize oral history collections in Grand Falls-Windsor, and notes on the recent Canadian Declaration on Intangible Cultural Heritage in support of Canada ratifying the 2003 UNESCO convention on ICH.

Contributors: Dale Jarvis, Terra Barrett, Andrea O'Brien, Michael Philpott, and Celeste Billung-Meyer.

Download the pdf here

photo credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives Division, 
Grand Falls Academy Series , Item, 1944.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Tuesday's Folklore Photos - Intangible Cultural Heritage Conference

Architecture or built heritage in Old Quebec.
Today’s Folklore Photos come from the International Conference on Intangible Cultural Heritage in Quebec City, QC. The conference was held at Laval University and brought together the Folklore Studies Association of Canada, the Canadian Network for Intangible Cultural Heritage, Canadian Society for Traditional Music, the Canada research Chair in Intangible Cultural Heritage, the Institute for Cultural Heritage of Laval University, and the Centre for Culture, Art and Society.

On Wednesday evening after a day of completing tape logs and metadata descriptions at the office I flew to Toronto and then on to Quebec City for the conference where a number of folklorists and heritage professionals were meeting and presenting papers on their work. Thursday was focused on Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) and there were presenters from across the country and beyond. There was a lot of discussion on UNESCO's 2003 Intangible Cultural Heritage Convention and what has happened in the ten years since the conference was ratified in 2006. Presenters from Belgium, Denmark and Norway described how their countries were working on ICH since ratifying the convention while presenters from Scotland, and Canada discussed their interest in ratifying the convention and moving forward with preserving ICH in their countries. Dale gave a presentation on the work of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Office since 2008 and focused on the Grey Sock project as an example of the work from the Heritage Foundation which celebrates, records, disseminates, and promotes ICH or the living heritage of the province.
The Huron-Wendat Museum in Wendake, QC.  Participants were treated to a tour of the museum and a banquet meal on Friday evening.
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday there were presentations from folklorists, ethnomusicologists, anthologists, and many other heritage professionals. Some presentations focused on what their institutions were working on while others presented a paper or specific concept or concern in heritage. On Saturday morning I presented a paper I had written on the Mummers Festival. It was called “Shagging with the Tradition: The St. John’s Mummers Festival” and looked at how the Mummers Festival has used Intangible Cultural Heritage to create community and increase tourism. It also traced mummering as a cultural symbol for the province since the 1960s until today.
Presenting the paper Shagging with the Tradition: The St John's Mummers Festival.  Photo by Ryan Davis.
It was a beautiful weekend in Quebec City which finished with a declaration of interest in ICH in Canada and a wish for the country to ratify UNESCO’s convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage in order to preserve and promote the ICH of the country as a whole.
Laurier Turgeon and Dale Jarvis reading the declaration on ICH.
~Terra Barrett

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Living Heritage Podcast Ep042 Youth engagement in heritage with Stephanie Chipilski

Stephanie Chipilski is from Winnipeg, Manitoba. She currently works at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, as the Assistant Registrar, assisting with loans, copyright, and collections management. She is interested in natural and cultural heritage, with a goal to celebrate and preserve it in all of its tangible and intangible forms. Stephanie has been a member of the Youth Advisory Group under the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, and in this podcast we talk about the Youth Advisory Group, her work with UNESCO, youth mentorship, professional development ideas for those in the heritage and culture sector, her work with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, and the importance of saying hi!

Recorded 18 March 2016


The Living Heritage Podcast is about people who are engaged in the heritage and culture sector, from museum professionals and archivists, to tradition bearers and craftspeople - all those who keep history alive at the community level. The show is a partnership between HeritageNL and CHMR Radio. Theme music is Rythme Gitan by Latché Swing.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Counting crows, and poem from Tilting, Fogo Island. #FolkloreThursday

On Monday last, I gave a guest lecture on intangible cultural heritage for Scott Neilsen's Cultural Resource Management (CRM) course at Memorial University. I talked to the class about the five domains of ICH as defined by UNESCO, and gave examples from a Newfoundland and Labrador perspective.

While talking about oral traditions and expressions, I challenged them with a couple traditional riddles, and then two students spoke up with rhymes that they had learned when younger.

First up was Rebekah Nolan, who had a fantastic version of a counting crows rhyme which I'd not heard before. I've written about crow counting rhymes before, but Rebecca's version was new to me. She learned it in San Luis Obispo ("America's happiest city" apparently) circa 2003:

One for sadness
Two for mirth
Three for marriage
Four for birth
Five for laughing
Six for crying
Seven for sickness
Eight for dying
Nine for silver
Ten for gold
Eleven for a secret that will never be told
Twelve for darkness
Thirteen for light
Fifteen for morning
Sixteen for night.

The second was from Jackie Tizzard, who had a rhyme she learned from her mother, who was a Burke from Tilting, Fogo Island.  "She could never tell me where it came from," Jackie told me. This was her rhyme:

"Long has been my cherished hope,
Upon my dying day,
To lie upon some sunny slope
And dream my life away."

Jackie thought it might be a riddle, but didn't know the answer. 

The rhyme is not a riddle at all, and neither does it originate on Fogo Island. It is, rather, a quote from a book, The red cow and her friends, by Peter McArthur, published in 1919, in Toronto, Ontario, by J.M. Dent & Sons. It is a fascinating book on farm life, with stories on sick cows, feeding pigs, racoon hunts, and horse contrariness. How a line of it came to be memorized by a young Miss Burke in Tilting is anyone's guess.

The full quote is as follows:

Although the oak is my particular friend among the trees on the farm, there are others with which I can claim at least an acquaintanceship. There is a maple at the edge of the wood-lot that always makes me feel uncomfortable, because I have a feeling that it has a joke on me. It stands on what would be called rising ground " which means an elevation that does not deserve to be called a hill " and while lying on the grass in its shade I can see over several farms to the south and east. It used to be a favourite of my boyhood, and once I composed a poem while lying in its shade. If you bear in mind the fact that I was seventeen years of age at the time you will understand why the tree has a joke on me. Here is the only stanza I can remember of the little poem I composed to express the "unmannerly sadness" of youth.

It long has been my cherished hope Upon my dying day To lie down on some sunny slope And dream my life away.

At that age I could not have cherished the hope so very long, and the old tree must have chuckled to its last twig at my absurdity. Anyway, I never see the tree without recalling that wretched stanza, and I immediately hurry away to some other part of the woods.

Got a piece of folk poetry stuck in your head, or a counting crow rhyme of your own? Leave a comment below, or send me an email at

- Dale Jarvis

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What is Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)? A quick definition.

I had a question this morning from a colleague who asked, essentially, what is ICH? It is a complex answer, but sometimes people want a quick summary. So, based on the UNESCO 2003 Convention and our own work at the Heritage Foundation of NL, here is our working definition:
Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) is the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, and skills that communities recognize as part of their cultural heritage. It is sometimes called living cultural heritage, is transmitted from generation to generation, and is constantly recreated by communities and groups, in response to their environment, their interaction with nature, and their history.

ICH is manifested in the following five domains:
- Oral traditions and expressions, including language;
- Performing arts;
- Social practices, rituals and festive events;
- Knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe; and,
- Traditional craft.

ICH can include the stories we tell, the family events we celebrate, our community gatherings, the languages we speak, the songs we sing, knowledge of our natural spaces, our healing traditions, the foods we eat, our holidays, beliefs and cultural practices.
If you are looking for a more detailed discussion of what intangible cultural heritage is, download our free  "What is ICH?" booklet for Newfoundland and Labrador, or UNESCO's own Intangible Cultural Heritage page

Photo: Participants of the December 18, 2010 Mummers Festival, by Mark Bennett.
Courtesy Memorial University's Digital Archive Initiative. 

- Dale Jarvis

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

ICH @UVic Day Two - From Chicken Feet to Cowichan Sweaters

Tuesday was day two of the course on Intangible Heritage I'm teaching at the University of Victoria. We started out this morning, bright and beautiful, at the Gates of Harmonious Interest, marking the entranceway to Victoria's Chinatown, the oldest Chinatown in Canada.

We had a busy morning, with the students starting off by doing quick sketch maps of the district, and then locating within the district examples of the five domains of intangible cultural heritage as defined by UNESCO:  Oral Traditions and Expressions; Performing Arts; Social Practices, Rituals, and Festive Events; Knowledge and Practices Concerning Nature and the Universe; and Traditional Crafts.

We then met up with Chris Adams of, who gave us a great tour and talk about Victoria's Chinatown and the link between the tangible, built heritage of the district, and the intangible cultural heritage that permeates it.

It was my first time meeting Chris, but I've met his father and company founder John Adams before (we even were on a panel together about ghost tours, back in 2009). Chris was a fabulous guide and raconteur, and introduced us to some fabulous places, a highlight being the Tam Kung Temple on the top floor of the Yen Wo Society building.

It is an incredible gem of a space, and one I'd never seen before.

After that, we had a quick lesson in the game of Fan Tan, and a lecture on opium dens, and then we went to the famous Don Mee restaurant for Dim Sum, including my requisite feed of chicken feet and egg tarts.

After lunch, we rushed back to UVic, for a chat about ethnographic documentation, including my tips for oral history interviewing

Then we had another treat, a visit from the very charming Alice Trueman, a knitter from Salt Spring Island. Alice grew up on Vancouver Island, and doesn't remember a time when she didn't knit. I conducted an oral history interview with Alice while the class listened and watched.

Alice was another gem of the day; she was a font of knowledge about knitting. We talked about the tradition, her involvement, and how the tradition of knitting has shifted over the years, and the knitting retreats she runs on Salt Spring Island.   

Alice spoke knowledgeably about many aspects of knitting, but particularly interesting was the discussion we had about Cowichan sweaters, a very specific type of sweater made by First Nations knitters in one region of Vancouver Island.

You can download an mp3 of Alice describing Cowichan sweaters here, or in other formats here, or listen below. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Youth Heritage NL represented at the Canadian Commission for UNESCO

Guest blog post by Heather Elliott
Hi everyone! My name is Heather and I am the newly selected representative for Youth Heritage NL on CCUNESCO’s Youth Advisory Group (YAG). Earlier this month I was fortunate enough to travel to Ottawa, Ontario to attend CCUNESCO’s Annual General Meeting. It was an incredible experience and I’m more than happy to tell you all about it.

YAG exists as a way to bring the youth voice to CCUNESCO. This was my first time attending a conference of this size, so I really wasn’t sure what to expect. Once I arrived at the YAG meeting (held the day before the official AGM) and started meeting my fellow Yaggers, I was put immediately at ease. The group was made up of diverse and dynamic individual, with doctors, nurses, teachers, museum types (like myself), human rights advocates, biosphere professionals and more all seated around the same table. Over the course of the morning we discussed topics ranging from sustainable development to global citizenship, and talked about how we wanted to see youth used within CCUNESCO. It was a fantastic opportunity to not only hear about what everyone else was working on across the country, but to share the work that Youth Heritage NL is hoping to do as we continue to grow.

Over the following two days I was able to attend the official CCUNESCO AGM, and continued to meet inspiring people from across the nation. Everyone had come together to discuss the importance of UNESCO and their values within Canada, and how we can all work together to bring those values to our own communities. I left the experience feeling optimistic, excited and determined. I am really looking forward to returning next year and once again representing Youth Heritage NL at CCUNESCO.

Youth Heritage NL now has a blog online, where I’ve posted a much more detailed account of my experience at the AGM. If you’re interested, please feel free to head over and check it out! If you have any questions, you can feel free to contact me at

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Eleven new inscriptions on the Representative List of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity

Baku, Azerbaijan, 05 December—The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage, holding its 8th session until 7 December, today inscribed 11 elements on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This marks the end of this year’s inscriptions.

The Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity serves to raise awareness of intangible heritage and provide recognition to communities’ traditions and know-how that reflect their cultural diversity. The List does not attribute or recognize any standard of excellence or exclusivity.

The titles of the newly inscribed elements below (in chronological order of inscription) lead to web pages with information, pictures and videos:

Traditional craftsmanship of the Mongol Ger and its associated customs—Mongolia
The Mongol Ger is a round structure comprising walls, poles and a ceiling covered with canvas and felt, and tightened with ropes. It is light enough for nomads to carry; flexible enough to fold and pack; and sturdy enough to be dismantled and reassembled. Craftsmanship of the traditional Mongol Ger is a communal enterprise, with men carving the wood and both women and men engaged in painting, sewing and stitching, and felt-making. Traditional craftsmanship is taught through mentoring by a senior craftsperson.

Knowledge, skills and rituals related to the annual renewal of the Q’eswachaka bridge—Peru
The Q’eswachaka rope suspension bridge crosses a gorge of the Apurimac River in the southern Andes. Four Quechua-speaking peasant communities assemble annually to renew it, using traditional Inca techniques and materials. The three-day process involves repeatedly braiding straw into thick ropes, which are then woven together to form the bridge. The process structures the life of the participating communities, strengthens centuries-old bonds and reaffirms their cultural identity. When the bridge is finished, the communities hold a celebratory festival.

Kimjang, making and sharing kimchi in the Republic of Korea
Kimchi is a name for preserved vegetables seasoned with spices and fermented seafood, an essential part of Korean meals. Late autumn is Kimjang season, when communities collectively make and share large quantities of kimchi to ensure that every household has enough to sustain it through the winter. The custom emphasizes the importance of sharing and is a reminder of the need to live in harmony with nature. The collective practice of Kimjang reaffirms Korean identity and is an excellent opportunity for strengthening family cooperation.

Men’s group Colindat, Christmas-time ritual---Romania-Republic of Moldova
On Christmas Eve, groups of young men in villages throughout Romania and the Republic of Moldova go from house to house performing festive songs. The songs have an epic content, which is adapted to each host’s individual circumstances. The performers also sing special, auspicious songs for unmarried girls, to help them find a husband within the next year. After the performance, the hosts offer the singers ritual gifts and money. Colindat plays an important role in preserving social identity and cohesion.

Xooy, a divination ceremony among the Serer of Senegal
The Xooy is a traditional divination ceremony among the Serer community, organized prior to the rainy season. During this long nocturnal gathering, master seers known as Saltigues step into a circle and deliver predictions before a rapturous audience. The combination of their vibrant clothing, songs and dances creates a colourful, dramatic ceremony and the seers hold the audience in suspense until daybreak. The Saltigues are the living mediums of the Xooy and preserve and transmit the knowledge that is vital to the ceremony.

Music of Terchová—Slovakia
The village of Terchová in north-west Slovakia is renowned for its collective vocal and instrumental music, performed by three-, four- or five-member string ensembles with a small two-string bass or diatonic button accordion, combined with polyphonic singing and folk dances. Performances take place at anniversaries, festivals and, most importantly, the Jánošík’s Days International Festival. Transmitted orally, the traditional music culture is a matter of pride and a marker of identity among the inhabitants of Terchová and the surrounding areas.

Feast of the Holy Forty Martyrs in Štip—Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
The Feast of the Holy Forty Martyrs is celebrated each 22 March to honour the martyrs of Sebaste and to mark the beginning of spring. Participants hike up the Isar hill, stopping at the church to pay tribute to the martyrs. This event requires the selfless cooperation of many people from all age groups, social classes and backgrounds, thus promoting and encouraging teamwork and solidarity. Grandparents, parents and children all hike together, while the climb also unites people from different ethnic groups and religions.

Turkish coffee culture and tradition—Turkey
Turkish coffee combines special preparation techniques with a rich communal traditional culture. It is mainly drunk in coffee-houses, where people meet to converse, share news and read books. The tradition itself is a symbol of hospitality, friendship, refinement and entertainment, permeating all walks of life. Turkish coffee also plays an important role on social occasions such as engagement ceremonies and holidays; its knowledge and rituals are transmitted in an informal way by family members through observation and participation.

Petrykivka decorative painting as a phenomenon of the Ukrainian ornamental folk art—Ukraine
The people of the village of Petrykivka decorate their living quarters, household belongings and musical instruments with a richly symbolic style of ornamental painting, characterized by fantastic flowers and other natural elements. In folk belief, the paintings protect people from sorrow and evil. Every family has at least one practitioner and the tradition is taught at all levels in the local schools, making Petrykivka painting an integral part of daily existence in the community.

La Parranda de San Pedro de Guarenas y Guatire—Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)
In the towns of Guarenas and Guatire, devotees celebrate the Day of San Pedro with a series of popular festivities and rituals. Venerated images of the saint, accompanied by flags, banners, musicians, dancers and troubadours, are paraded through the streets to re-enact the story of San Pedro’s healing of the daughter of a slave. Women decorate the churches, dress images of the saint and cook traditional dishes. Adults and children in the community all celebrate a vital tradition that symbolizes and reasserts the struggle against injustice and inequality.

Art of Đờn ca tài tử music and song in southern Viet Nam
Performed at festivals, death anniversary rituals and celebrations, Đờn ca tài tử is a musical art that evokes the people’s life and work on the land and rivers of southern Viet Nam. Instrumentalists and singers express their feelings by improvising, ornamenting and varying the ‘skeletal melody’ and main rhythmic patterns of these pieces, based on twenty principal songs and seventy-two classical songs. Đờn ca tài tử is handed down through oral transmission, based on imitation, from master to student.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Newfoundland and Labrador ICH goes to Korea

ICHCAP ( is a UNESCO Category 2 Centre based in Korea, whose main role "is to strengthen 'Information and Networking' in the framework of the 2003 UNESCO Convention."

It supports activities directed toward the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage among the 48 Member States of the Asia-Pacific region with a primary function of disseminating information and building networks in the ICH field.

One of its tools to disseminate information is the ICH Courier newsletter, and in the most recent edition, Volume 17, the work of the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador is highlighted, along with reports from Nepal, Uzbekistan, the Republic of Korea, and Papua New Guinea.

You can read more about the newsletter, and download a PDF version directly from their website.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Make and Break Festival, Heritage Plaques, UNESCO and Bay Roberts

It has been a busy few months for the ICH office at the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador (HFNL), and we are gearing up for a very busy summer.  In this edition of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Update, there are a few big announcements, including the accreditation of the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador by UNESCO, and the launch of our 2012 Folklife Festival, which this year will take place in Bonavista on August 4th, with a celebration of Newfoundland’s iconic make and break boat engine. We also go looking for supernatural stories and local songs in Bay Roberts, and gather information about HFNL's historic plaque program.

Download the newsletter in pdf format.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Paris Notes: ICH Researchers Forum and UNESCO General Assembly on ICH

I arrived in Paris yesterday, and since then have had a day and a half of interesting meetings and conversations already.

I got here in time Sunday to take in the second half of the Forum of ICH Researchers meeting at la Maison des Cultures du Monde. The first panel session was on community participation in the safeguarding of ICH under the Convention, chaired by Toshiyuki Kono. There were several different papers presented, but the two that interested me particularly were the papers given by Win van Zanten, an ethnomusicologist from the University of Leiden, and Marc Jacobs, the director of the Flemish Interface Centre for Cultural Heritage.

Van Zanten looked at some of the short films on the UNESCO website for Intangible Cultural Heritage (see some of them here). He argued that they were important because they increase the visibility of ICH, but thought that they could do more to document the tradition in relation to community, and that the larger social context could be better documented. He also raised the idea of showing the film back to community, filming their reaction, and include their comments.

Jacobs presented on heritage communities and safeguarding programs, and argued that the critical success factor to safeguarding programs is the presence of a cultural broker, someone who can walk the community through the processes involved in an ICH project. He argued that these mediators are crucial for building bridges, and providing followup that goes beyond pure documentation. It was music to my ears, and a validation of the work we are undertaking with the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, particularly the project-based training model we are working on, and which we will hopefully be doing more with later this year.

The second panel session was on identifying priority areas for research, facilitated by Harriet Deacon, Hon. Research Fellow at the University of Capetown. I've followed her excellent posts on Twitter @the_archive for a while now, so it was nice to meet her in person. Misako Ohnuki, Deputy Director of the International Research Centre for ICH in Asia and the Pacific Region, who I'd also only ever met online, was first up, talking about documentation as a tool for safeguarding the ICH of communities. Then Deacon and Chiaro Bortolotto talked about their impressive project to document and track current published research on ICH. It was noted that there are gaps in the research, with a large amount of grey literature that has not been documented, and a growing body of practical handbooks, guides and suchlike documents being produced by NGOs which are not part of the academic literature.

The meeting ended with a decision that the Forum should meet again, annually if possible. I'll keep you posted on developments.

This morning was the start of the fourth session of the General Assembly of the States Parties to the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage at UNESCO Headquarters. It was a fascinating day, with some very interesting comments made by a variety of state party representatives.

One of the topics up for debate was whether there should be a ceiling placed on the number of nominations the secretariat can examine each year for the Convention's Lists, which include the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, and the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The presentations were insightful and at times passionate. The general consensus was that a ceiling on the number of nominations is necessary because of the time and resources required to properly assess each nomination. But there was also a general sense that the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding not be limited, as it represents traditions under particular threat.

There is also a listing of programmes, projects and activities for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage considered to best reflect the principles and objectives of the Convention, a list which seems to be somewhat undersubscribed, and it was suggested that due to the small number of listings, a cap not be placed on that list either.

A need for best practices led to many state party representatives talking about the importance of safeguarding ICH, stating that the listing of traditions is less important within their jurisdictions than the active safeguarding of those traditions to ensure they continue at the community level. Many state parties returned to this theme over the course of the day: Austria noted the importance of UNESCO capacity-building initiatives in safeguarding ICH, Cuba talked about the need for ICH training at regional level; Jordan expressed the importance of community-level work in safeguarding ICH; and St Lucia stressed that listing is less important to some regions than the work inventorying and safeguarding. 

All in all, a fascinating day, and a remarkable first look, for me, at how the ICH General Assembly works.

The day ended with a rather remarkable presentation from Mongolia, mixing traditional ethnic costume, high fashion, traditional (and very modern) music, dance, throat singing, gymnastics, contortionism, and hand-balancing. All in a day's work, really.

Sleep, soon, perhaps, with another three days yet to come, and the ICH non-governmental organizations' meeting first thing tomorrow morning!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Call for Applications to the Canadian Commission for UNESCO's Youth Action Group

I've just returned from the Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO in Ottawa. While there, I made a presentation to the Youth Action Group (YAG) on UNESCO's 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, and on the work we are doing to safeguard ICH in Newfoundland and Labrador.

I was impressed with the passion and the impressive volunteer and work histories of the YAG members I met, and I'm certain that they have a great deal to contribute toward's UNESCO's goals of building a culture of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information.

The Canadian Commission for UNESCO is currently looking for interested young Canadians, between the ages of 15 and 30 years old, to become new members of its Youth Advisory Group.  This year, in order to increase geographic representation of members throughout Canada, the Canadian Commission for UNESCO is specifically looking to recruit in Newfoundland and Labrador. As well, the YAG currently does not have any members interested in the theme of archives. Indeed, members interested in Information and Communication in general are fairly rare at the moment. 

The original deadline of May 15th has been extended to May 25th, so if you are interested, get your application in today.