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Column published: 24 April 2007
By: Gordon A. Watts Biography & Archived Articles
Topics in this week's issue include:
In Memorium - Kenneth George Aitken
On his website and blog he said about himself: "My purpose is to provide stimulating ideas for genealogy teachers, lecturers and program planners to encourage and provoke them in improving what they do, and how they do it." From all that I have been able to learn about Ken, he did just that - and did it well. I did not have the pleasure of meeting Ken personally, but I enjoyed his many informative postings to the Association of Professional Genealogists mail list.
The following message from the family of Kenneth George Aitken was circulated to members of the British Columbia Genealogical Society:
I am sorry I haven't been keeping up with writing very well. Ken had been very sick since he came back from Vancouver in March. He has just passed away this morning after suffering for the past year or so from this terrible disease of ALS. The following is Ken's obituary.
Kenneth George Aitken passed away April 21, 2007 at the age of 59 in Penticton, British Columbia. He was born and grew up in Penticton, but spent most of his working years in Saskatchewan as the librarian supervisor of the Prairie History Room at the Regina Public Library. Ken was a well-known genealogist and a popular genealogy speaker and educator in western Canada and the United States. Active in genealogical organizations for many years, Ken was the charter president of the Hambrook Family History Society and served for 15 years as editor of the journal of that society. With the Saskatchewan Genealogical Society he served as a branch chairman, a director and as second vice-president of the Society. He also served briefly as the Director of Student Recruitment for Canada for the National Institute for Genealogical Studies.
He was predeceased by his mother Winifred Margaret Hambrook and father George Neil Aitken. He will be greatly missed by his loving wife Christine Mei-Chiang; his son Neil Aitken; his daughter Emele (Adam) Dykes; his grandson Thomas Dykes; and his siblings: Janet Taggart; M. Neil Aitken (Ruth); Peigi Sakota (Jay); and numerous nephews and nieces.
A memorial service and celebration of his life will be held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2946 South Main St., Penticton, B.C., Saturday, April 28th, 2007 at 2:00 pm. To send condolences email us at: email@example.com or visit his blog at www.genealogy-education.com
About Ken's Life:
Ken held a BA in Linguistics, and a Master of Library Science degree from the University of British Columbia. He had also undertaken course work in local and family history with Brigham Young University and with the University of British Columbia.
Ken was a member of the Genealogical Speakers Guild and the Association of Professional Genealogists. Ken had been a professional genealogist for over 25 years, a genealogy librarian for over 20 years and an adult educator for more than 40 years. He was currently focusing on genealogical education and was working on a book on evidence analysis.
Active in genealogical organizations for many years Ken was charter president of the Hambrook Family History Society and served for 15 years as editor of the journal of that society. With the Saskatchewan Genealogical Society he served as a branch chairman, a director and as second vice-president of the Society.
Articles by Kenneth Aitken have appeared in genealogical and family history journals and other scholarly journals in Canada, Australia, the U.S. and England.
As a lecturer, Ken spoke at conferences, seminars and workshops of the National Genealogical Society, Brigham Young University, Saskatchewan History and Folklore Society, Saskatchewan Genealogical Society, Alberta Family Histories Society, Alberta Genealogical Society, Manitoba Genealogical Society, Ontario Genealogical Society, British Columbia Genealogical Society, Kamloops Family History Society, and the Kelowna & District Genealogical Society as well as to local genealogical groups in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, British Columbia, Washington State and England.
Over the past two decades he had been involved in family and local history. Ken had taught classes for libraries, community colleges, church and community groups. For many years he regularly taught local and family history classes at the Regina Public Library.
2006 Census response to 'Informed Consent'
Most of the statistical results relating to the 'informed consent' question, included for the first time on the 2006 National Census of Canada, have been released. Unfortunately, the positive response to the informed consent question (53 on the long form, and 8 on the short form) was far less than that hoped for, or feared, by the historical and genealogical communities of Canada and elsewhere. Less than 56 % of Canadian residents responded YES to allow information they provided to be released to public access 92 years in the future.
Because of the informed consent question that genealogists and historians were forced to accept without opposition in Bill S-18, the 2006 Census has been destroyed as a complete and viable research tool. For more than 44% of Canadians, genealogists in the future will be unable to find their ancestors through the 2006 Census of Canada. From 2006 historians will no longer be able to use Census to compile an accurate demographic picture of the Canadian family.
Overall, 32.08 % or 10,514,960 residents of Canada deliberately responded NO to the question of release of information they provided after 92 years. 12.34 % of the total population of Canada did not respond to the question at all. This means that 4,044,719 people, for whatever reason, whether apathy, misunderstanding or fear, did not answer and were counted as a NO. This includes an as yet unknown number of individuals residing in 'institutional collective dwellings' such as prisons, jails, hospitals and long-term health facilities, nursing homes, shelters for persons lacking a fixed address, and other dwellings for which Census information was provided by consulting administration records. Where information was obtained through access of administration records, the inmates were never asked, and therefore the response to the informed consent question was left blank - ensuring a further NO response.
It is estimated that about 46,000 collective dwellings, both institutional and non-institutional, will have been counted during Census 2006. Information relating to collective dwellings will not be released until 12 September 2007. Until then it will not be possible to have an accurate estimate of the number of inmates of institutional collective dwellings for whom information was collected through administration records and negative responses were automatically registered by virtue of their answers being left BLANK.
In the following charts, figures for Total Area Population, and all percentage values were obtained from Statistics Canada, either from their website or through personal contact. On the first chart, numbers of responses were calculated using population figures and percentages provided by Statistics Canada, and should be reasonably accurate. On the second and third charts, populations enumerated separately on LONG and SHORT forms were calculated using 20 % of Total Area Population (from first chart) for LONG forms and 80 % of Total Area Population (from first chart) for SHORT forms. Numbers of responses were then calculated, based on the calculated population enumerated and percentage values provided by Statistics Canada. Because LONG and SHORT forms were delivered to 20 % and 80 % of Canadian HOUSEHOLDS, rather than to individuals, figures shown are subject to a currently unknown margin of error.
Long Forms for Census 2006 (2B) were sent to 20 % of households in Canada. The exception to this pertains to isolated communities in the North, people living on reserves and people living overseas - all of who completed the long questionnaire. In Nunavut all enumeration was done face-to-face by enumerators, and the 2D canvasser form was used. This questionnaire is basically the same as the 2B (long form) except that it is worded for an interview situation rather than self-completion. No SHORT form questionnaires were distributed in Nunavut. Considering that all of Nunavut was enumerated by personal interview, it is surprising to see a NO RESPONSE result of 25.80 %.
Short Forms for Census 2006 (2A) were sent to 80 % of households in Canada, except for Nunavut, where all interviews were done face-to-face and the 2D long form canvasser form was used. As a result, all results shown for Nunavut in the chart for SHORT form responses are set to zero.
Where to now?
As stated in the article above, because of the low positive response to the 'informed consent' question, the 2006 Census and those of the foreseeable future have been destroyed as a complete and viable tool for historical and genealogical research. For many Canadians, genealogists in the future will no longer be able to verify the existence of their ancestors through Canada's Census. They will have lost a valuable link in the trail to finding where their ancestors came from. Historians will no longer be able to use Census to compile an accurate demographic picture of the Canadian family.
Hopefully many reading this will ask, "Do we have to accept this? - Is there something we can do to change it?" The simple, although perhaps not easy, answers to these questions are "NO" and "YES"! Where to now? The passage of Bill S-18 and it's subsequent proclamation of Royal Assent on 29 June 2005 provided forever the public access, 92 years after collection, to Historic Census records that we sought to regain through a long eight year campaign. Unfortunately, Bill S-18 also imposed the 'informed consent' provision that has destroyed the research value of Censuses from 2005. As a saving grace however, Bill S-18 also included provision for a review of the effect of the 'informed consent' question. Specifically, the clauses regarding such a review state:
(2) The committee shall submit a report to the Senate, the House of Commons or both Houses of Parliament, as the case may be, in relation to the review that includes a statement of any changes to the administration of subsection 18.1(2) of the Statistics Act, as enacted by section 1, that the committee recommends."
As much as many of us had hoped it would not come to this, it would appear that the genealogy community of Canada must once again band together with members of the Canadian Historical Association and the Association of Canadian Archivists to seek a resolution to this problem. In that vein, the CHA will shortly be making a press release, the goal of which is to educate and encourage their membership to write to various government officials to seek a review of the effect of the 'informed consent' question without waiting for another Census to be conducted under it.
What can readers of this column do? Forward the URL of this column to all you know who are involved with genealogy or historical research. Advise your genealogical and/or historical societies about the problem, and ask them to pass the information to their membership. Educate your family, friends and neighbours about the value of a complete Census for historical and genealogical research.
Contact your Member of Parliament and Senators to seek their support for a review of the effect of the 'informed consent' question now, without waiting for the destruction of another Census. You can do that by using the link at the bottom of this column to forward it to them. Add your own comments and ask them to read this article, and the one above.
Contact information for Members of Parliament can be found here
Contact information for Senators can be found here
Chief Statistician Ivan P. Fellegi can be contacted here
Librarian and Archivist Ian E. Wilson can be contacted here
Industry Minister Maxime Bernier can be contacted here
I would appreciate being copied ( firstname.lastname@example.org )on any response you might get from any of our parliamentary representatives.
Until next time.
Gordon A. Watts email@example.com
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