OurDigitalWorld is pleased to announce funding from the Government of Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration through their Multicultural Community Capacity Grant program. OurDigitalWorld, through its award-winning VITA Digital Toolkit and its one-stop search portal OurOntario.ca, is steward to more than 2 million pieces of digital cultural heritage from Ontario. This funding will support our development of educational tools to promote the history of diverse and underrepresented Ontarians and their contributions to the social and cultural life of the province. These stories, sometimes painful, are part of our heritage.
Executive Director Loren Fantin was invited to the Regent Park Youth Media Arts Centre in Toronto to be part of the Ministry’s announcement of the first round of recipients, as well as the next round of funding of this wonderful program.
From our application:
Part of our VITA digital toolkit is a presentations module commonly used for virtual exhibits of heritage materials. We wish to explore the use of this module as an educational tool, by building primary-source virtual exhibits on Ontario’s multicultural history, using materials from across our members’ collections.
Our collections currently feature unique materials related to women’s history in Ontario, as well as a variety of immigrant groups. Examples include: the first two Black-run periodicials in Canada, founded during the time of the American Civil War; the Agnes Macphail Digital Archive; the collections of the Federated Women’s Institutes of Ontario. The materials explore economic contributions, industrial innovations, social reform, community groups, and individuals that had impact on Ontario’s history.
This is a pilot project, exploring our capacity to do outreach directly into classrooms using the materials of our member organizations, and explore the appropriateness of our current tools for educational primary-source sets. Our cross-Ontario exhibits will inspire current and future member organizations to design localized versions for use in their communities. We want users of all ages to find themselves in the archive.
This project activities will be:
- Collaborating with heritage organizations and educators to determine appropriate topics, formats, and exercises relevant to the history of multicultural communities
- Compiling primary sources and drafting narratives
- Designing virtual exhibits and promoting them
- User-testing and feedback on our drafts
- Drafting documentation and guides for member organizations to build their own multicultural digital stories
From this project we hope to learn:
- how best to promote intercultural understanding through historical materials
- how best to support educators with digitized primary sources
- how best to highlight the economic and social contributions of ethnic communities
- where archival silences exist – where communities aren’t represented by their own members, in their own voices – and how best to document and fill them
- how to upgrade our exhibits tools with educational uses in mind
- how our tools can inculcate learning in Ontario citizens of all ages
- how we can facilitate future collaborations between our member organizations and public schools using local history resources
This pilot project will build increased intercultural understanding and awareness of the benefits of diversity for the social, economic, and civic life of the province; it will strengthen connections between heritage organizations and ethno-cultural communities, and illustrate the need to document immigrants and refugees as part of the ongoing story of our province; improve social integration and participation; and decrease systemic barriers for women, newcomers, and ethno-cultural communities.
ODW gratefully acknowledges the support of the Government of Ontario. Thanks also to the many community members and professionals who pledged support of this project!