Ryerson University

Letter to the Prime Minister sent May 16th

Dear Prime Minister Harper and Minister Baird,
 
I am writing on behalf of the Modern Literature and Culture Research Centre at Ryerson University to express my concern regarding the funding cuts to the "Understanding Canada" program. Ending this program will diminish the presence of Canada's arts and culture on the international stage, a presence that is crucial to the strength and quality of Canada's international relationships.
 
I wish to emphasize the positive collaborations and cultural synergies that result from the international study and propagation of Canadian cultural treasures. My research on Lucy Maud Montgomery has yielded five books, a collection that reflects the significance of a Canadian author whose most famous work, Anne of Green Gables, has been translated into 35 languages. In an effort to share the work of this much-loved author on an international scale, I have given talks in Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Sweden and the United States, and I have held visiting professorships at two universities in Germany teaching Canadian literature. This kind of cultural outreach helps to put Canadian literary icons on the world map.
 
The Modern Literature and Culture Research Centre has been critical to this and other projects in the dissemination of Canadian literature and culture. Involving a team of 17 Research Associates, 1 International Research Fellow, and 15 undergraduate and graduate students and interns, our Centre is active in the promotion of Canadian cultural products. One of our current projects explores the work of Canadian World War I artist Mary Riter Hamilton, whose paintings of battlefields involving Canadian soldiers once earned her acclaim, but later faded from our cultural memory. The reinvigoration of interest in Hamilton's contribution to Canadian World War I history is also a recognition that Hamilton's work stands as an important repository of international wartime memory. The Modern Literature and Culture Research Centre depends on funds like those provided by the "Understanding Canada" program to take Canada to the world stage.
 
Canada's cultural exports are rich and varied, and form the basis of Canada's international image as a vibrant, diverse and dynamic country—and this is the direct result of the efforts of Canadian scholars and artists whose vision extends beyond our borders. Please continue funding these important efforts, which benefit Canadians and our international reputation.

Yours sincerely,

Irene Gammel, PhD, FRSC
Director, Modern Literature and Culture Research Centre
Professor of English
Ryerson University

Reply from the Office of the Prime Minister May 17th

Dear Professor Gammel:

I would like to acknowledge receipt of your e-mail.

You may be assured that your comments have been carefully reviewed. As a copy of your message has already been sent to the Honourable John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs, I am certain that he also will have appreciated being made aware of your views on this matter.

Thank you for writing to the Prime Minister.

M. Bredeson
Executive Correspondence Officer
for the Prime Minister's Office
Agent de correspondance
de la haute direction pour le Cabinet du Premier ministre

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