Artwork and Heritage Advisory Working Group

By: The Hon. Andrew Cardozo

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Maman statue and the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

Hon. Andrew Cardozo: Honourable senators, I want to say a few words as the Chair of the Artwork and Heritage Advisory Working Group — a subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration — to draw your attention to the work we are doing, supported by Heritage and Curatorial Services, on matters related to the Senate policy for heritage and arts. The bottom line for us is reflecting the art and heritage of Canadians in the Senate of Canada Building and our planned return to Centre Block.

The members of the working group include Senator Ataullahjan, Senator Burey and Senator Moodie. We work closely with the Speaker’s office, the Property and Services Directorate and the Long Term Vision and Plan Subcommittee.

Here are some highlights of the year ahead.

To mark Asian Heritage Month, the working group and the Canada-Japan Inter-Parliamentary Group are displaying a kabuto for the month of May, which is on loan to the Senate from the Embassy of Japan. Many of you were at the event last Thursday to launch this exposé. In the months ahead, the Senate will have on display artistic works related to our Agriculture and Forestry Committee’s study on soil health in Canada. Also on display until August 2024 is “Honouring Canada’s Black Artists,” a rotating exhibit that was started in 2020 through the initiative of the working group under the then-chair, Senator Patricia Bovey.

To increase access to artwork and artifacts in the Senate’s collection, we have started a new Collection Spotlight program. Every three months, we will see an exhibition in the Senate foyer. Furthermore, to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the Canadian flag next year, we are developing a strategy that will last through the year, focusing on the flag.

We are also keeping an eye on the Centre Block renovations, and have reviewed the plans for Centre Block and the parliamentary welcome centre. That is a huge project that we will focus on in the years ahead. The plan will continue the historic display of specific works of art while making space to increase regional representation, women, Indigenous peoples and racialized Canadians.

In closing, I want to remind you, colleagues, of the significance of the artifacts of the Senate, which include a world-class collection of 6,000 works of art; ceremonial objects; and furniture, such as the heritage desks and chairs we are privileged to occupy every day here in the Senate Chamber. This furniture is over 100 years old and bears witness to Canada’s dynamic political journey.

Here is the part I really want you to listen to: Always treat our desks here carefully. If you notice any wear and tear, or water marks, please bring that to the attention of the pages or staff so that the items can be fixed immediately. We have set aside a modest budget for the constant upkeep of these important desks, and, each year, a few of them will be restored over the summer months. These desks are over 100 years old. We have to take care of them.

We welcome your input and ideas that may support the work of our committee.

Thank you.

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