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Column published: 27 March 2008
By: Gordon A. Watts Biography & Archived Articles
Topics in this column include:
Canada's Chief Statistician to retire
I copy below part of an announcement taken from the Media Centre page on the website of the Prime Minister of Canada. Dr. Ivan P. Fellegi, Chief Statistician of Canada is finally taking his well-deserved, overdue retirement, effective 16 June 2008. Dr. Fellegi was born in June 1935, which would make him 73 years of age at his retirement.
February 15, 2008
Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced today the following changes in the senior ranks of the Public Service:
Ivan Fellegi, currently Chief Statistician, becomes Chief Statistician Emeritus following his retirement, effective June 16, 2008.
Munir Sheikh, currently Deputy Minister of Labour and Associate Deputy Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, becomes Chief Statistician Designate, effective March 3, 2008 and, following the retirement of Mr. Fellegi, will become Chief Statistician, effective June 16, 2008. ………………..
…………….The Prime Minister took the opportunity to thank Ivan Fellegi for his dedication to the Public Service and his extensive contribution in serving Canadians over the years, and to wish him all the best in his future endeavours.
The full announcement, including these and other changes, and biographical information for both Dr. Fellegi and his successor can be viewed by clicking this link.
Letter to Dr. Ivan P. Fellegi
Many genealogists and historians believe that had Dr. Fellegi retired at age 65 (no longer mandatory for federal employees) it would not have been necessary to wage an eight year battle to regain the public access to historic Census records that existing legislation already stated we were entitled to have. It is hard to say whether or not that would have been the case.
Regardless of what our feelings about this are, on the occasion of Dr. Fellegi's retirement it does not hurt us to be gracious and wish him well in his retirement. With that in mind, I copy here the email message I recently sent to him. I have not as yet received any response from him, and I do not really expect one.
To: Dr. Ivan P. Fellegi
Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2008 12:59 PM
Subject: Your impending retirement
It was with great interest that I recently learned of your impending retirement, effective 16 June 2008.
We have long been at odds regarding the release of Historic Census records. In particular, we continue to disagree regarding any need for respondents to provide consent for release, 92 years after collection, of information they provide to Census. It is my intention, along with members of the Canadian Historical Association, to continue working with staff of Statistics Canada to improve existing wording of the 'informed consent' question on Census. My eventual goal however, and that of genealogists and historians, is to eliminate inclusion of any such question from future Censuses.
Regardless of our opposing positions on this matter, during your term as Chief Statistician of Canada you have developed Statistics Canada into a facility truly deserving of its reputation as one of the top statistical agencies in the world. You can be justifiably proud of this accomplishment.
I offer you my congratulations. My wish for you is to enjoy a long, healthy and happy retirement.
Gordon A. Watts email@example.com
Co-chair, Canada Census Committee
Port Coquitlam, British Columbia
Work continues on 'informed consent' question
In my column posted 30 August 2007 I reported on meetings held between myself and three members of the Canadian Historical Association, Statistics Canada, and the Information and Privacy Commissioners. At that time I reported that arrangements had been made for a continuing dialogue with Statistics Canada.
In recent months there have been a number of communications between Statistics Canada and ourselves. These communications have resulted in a tentative rewording of 'the question' that is to be included on a Census Test to take place in May 2008. I am happy to say that Statistics Canada has been fairly responsive to our suggestions regarding how the question should be worded. They have agreed to remove wording from the question that stressed the confidentiality of the Census. References to 'personal information' have been replaced by 'your census responses' and references to personal information being 'made public' has been changed to indicate 'census responses and family history [will] be part of the historical record of Canada'. Information that Census responses would not be available until 92 years had passed will be emphasised by bolding.
Tentative wording of the question for the May 2008 Census Test is as follows:
If you mark "NO" or leave the answer blank, your census responses will never be made available to future generations.
Does this person agree to make his/her 2011 Census information available in 2103 (92 years after the census)?
1916 Census transferred to Library and Archives Canada (LAC)
On 2 January 2008 Statistics Canada transferred schedules of the 1916 Census of Population for Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba to Library and Archives Canada. As the effective date for that Census was 1 June 1916 it is expected that shortly after 1 June 2008 these records should be made available for public access. What form that access will take is up in the air at the moment.
While attending the recent LAC Services Advisory Board in Ottawa I inquired about when scanned images would be available online. I was advised that scanning of these records had not been started yet, and it would not take place until after the end of the current fiscal year (April).
The 1916 Census, like that for 1906, was conducted only in the three Prairie Provinces. Unlike the 1906 Census, which mainly collected tombstone information, the 1916 census collected a wider variety of information, such as the following.
Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, 1916
Province, District, Sub-District, Enumeration District
City, town, village, township or parish
Schedule No. 1. Population by Name, Personal Description, etc.
Residence and Personal Description: Name of each person in family, household or institution; Military Service; Place of Habitation (Township, Range, Meridian, Municipality); Relationship to head of family or household; Sex; Single, married, widowed, divorced or legally separated; Age at last birthday
Nativity and Religion: Country or place of birth; Religion
Citizenship: Year of immigration to Canada; Year of naturalization; Nationality
Race and Language: Racial or tribual origin; Can speak English; Can speak French; Other language spoken as mother tongue
Education: Can read; Can write
Profession, Occupation or Means of Living: Chief occupation or trade; Employer or Employee/Worker or Working on own account; Where person is employed, as "on farm", "in cotton mill", "in foundry", in "dry goods store", "in saw-mill", etc.
Library and Archives Canada (LAC)Services Advisory Board
The second meeting of the LAC Services Advisory Board took place in Ottawa on 7 March 2008. The first item on the agenda was completion of the discussions regarding manned hours of service that were the impetus for the formation of the Services Advisory Board. Board members were advised that LAC has agreed to provide staffed hours of service identical for 2nd floor (Reference Services) and 3rd floor (Consultation Services). The new hours, expected to be in place by 30 June 2008, will be as follows:
10:00 am to 5:00 pm Tuesday and Thursday.
There was some discussion regarding the use of public workstation computers being used for access to inappropriate and possibly illegal material, i.e. pornography etc. Some Board members with public library experience stated that e-mail sent from anonymous work-stations is much more frequently a source of potential criminal activity than viewing material on the Web at public stations. After examining a number of options, Board members recommended that LAC install software that requires mandatory registration on public-access computers, rather than purchasing filtering software.
Members of the Board raised a number of issues and suggestions, including the following:
One further suggestion worthy of mention here has to do with the mandate of the SAB. It was suggested that the Services Advisory Board should evolve into being an LAC Advisory Board. Members of the SAB felt that they have an overall interest in the operation of Library and Archives Canada, not just in how their services are presented.
The next meeting of the LAC - SAB is expected to take place around next June. Location of the meeting has not yet been confirmed but we have been invited to meet in Montreal, hosted by the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BanQ).
Library and Archives Canada (LAC) considers partnership
Library and Archives Canada is considering establishing a partnership with a US based company - The Generations Network (TGN), parent company of Ancestry and Rootsweb. The objective of the partnership would be to further enhance the ability of each partner to make genealogical information available to researchers. LAC is interested in utilizing the expertise of TGN in high speed scanning and indexing of original historical documents, microfiche and microfilm copies.
Records selected for preparation and digitization, according to LAC's standards would include Canada's National Censuses for 1861, 1871, 1881 and 1891. Key terms of the records would be indexed to assist the searching for information by the general public, researchers and any other interested people.
Indices would be available on TGN and/or LAC websites. Scanned images would be hosted on both TGN and LAC websites. Images would be available without charge on the LAC website. Images would be 'watermarked' to clearly identify their source without harming their integrity.
Scope of the proposed project would include shared marketing activities and support to other institutions like archives and libraries wishing access to the websites of TGN and LAC (including collectionscanada.bc.ca; free access to Ancestry.ca).
For further information visit the announcement on the LAC website.
Until next time.
Gordon A. Watts firstname.lastname@example.org
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