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The Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences
Canadian Jewish Congress*
The Canadian Jewish Congress is the organization representative of the Jews of this country. Among its purposes is the development of the highest standards of citizenship by the encouragement of and participation in activities of national, patriotic, cultural and humanitarian interest. It also desires to promote the growth of the spirit of understanding and good will between the diverse racial groups whose sum total are the peoples of Canada.
Part of these aims and objectives are not at all remote from the purpose of the Royal Commission as stated in PC 1786 "that it is in the national interest to give encouragement to institutions which express national feeling, promote common understanding and add to the variety and richness of Canadian life".
One of the truly important issues of the country is the search for the formula which will vouchsafe the creation of a vibrant and meaningful Canadianism. That the new world was called in to redress the balance of the old states not only a politico-military maxim of the 18th Century but is also a truism of our times characterizing the impulse which led millions of
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people to leave Europe and to settle in Canada. The best of the national characteristics of the peoples who inhabit Canada, through the catalysis of conditions here, will emerge as a distinctive element of North American civilization.
The Canadian Jewish Congress, as a representative organization of an ethno-religious minority, appears before your Commission to emphasize certain traits of citizenship and cultural maturity which can be developed and strengthened through the national institutions with which the Commission is concerned. Although referred to in the briefs of other organizations, these matters migh easily be lost sight of in the special pleadings which such briefs advanced. We, therefore, limit our submissions to comments on the following -- The National Library, Public Archives, The National Gallery, The National Museum, The National Film Board, The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and National research Scholarships.
National Library -
A comprehensive National Library, with field services reaching into every remote place of our far-flung country, would be a very important vehicle for the dissemination of objective information on the different ethnic groups which make up our populatoin and of their contribution to Canadian life and culture. We would urge a positive recommendation on the part of the Royal Commission that such institution be established at the earliest possible time.
Public Archives -
We venture to suggest that the Public Archives be enabled to extend the present scope of its work and that a truly representative history of Canada be commissioned. Encyclopediae, histories, dictionaries have been published by governments, universities, foundations. The Public Archives would not act without a precedent if it sponsored a history of Canada.
We offer cooperation to the best of our abilities by making available to those undertaking the venture, the facilities of the Archives of the Canadian Jewish Congress which, for some considerable time, have attempted to assemble materials pertaining to the history of the Jewish group in Canada.
National Gallery -
It is almost commonplace to state that art can be a potent factor in interpreting one to another people with different backgrounds. Combined with travelling exhibits, lectures and films on art can go a long way towards bridging the gap of misunderstanding.
National Museum -
An adequately endowed National Museum would be an all important visual aid in acquainting the people of our land with the backgrounds, cultural achievements and aspirations of its components. It is our recommendation that the National Museum receive much greater Governmental support and continue to build a truly representative collection, arranging from time to time special exhibits concerning some of the ethnic groups in Canada.
National Film Board -
The National Film Board, since the time of its inception early in the war, has impressively performed a function in acquainting the Canadian people with Canada and making Canadians known to each other. We strongly urge that the National Film Board be provided with the necessary financial support to carry on and extend its excellent programme.
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Canadian Broadcasting Corporation -
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has made perhaps the greatest single contribution to the interpretive role of which we have spoken in this brief. It deserves particular commendation for such programmes as Citizens' Forum, Farm Forum, In search of Ourselves, and In search of Citizens, as well as the "Stage" programs.
It is our suggestion that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation be provided with adequate resources to carry on and extend its public programmes and services, with a greater emphasis perhaps than hitherto on those of sustaining nature, and that similar safeguards be taken that once television be developed in Canada, it be under the control of Parliament and will full utilization of its tremendous ecucational potentialities.
National research Scholarships -
It is our submission that research scholarships on topics pertaining to group relations in Canada, intercultural and intergroup tensions, as well as prizes encouraging the creation of works in the field of literature and art, expressing the positive aspects of group cooperation, would be important instruments in promoting common understanding.
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It is our hope that these brief articles of faith might in some measure be useful in focusing attention to possibilities for a more complete and, therefore, a stronger Canadian democracy though the use of existing, and to be created, national institutions. We wish, at the same time, to pledge
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the resources of the Jewish community wherever its cooperation may be desired in the National Development of the Arts, Letters and Sciences.
For the Canadian Jewish Congress,
By [Saul Hayes' signature - Ed.]
National Executive Director.
November 14th, 1949.
*From: Canadian Jewish Congress. Submission to the Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences. Montreal : The Congress, 1949. 5 l. By permission of the Privy Council Office.