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Who can apply

Local non-profit documentary heritage organizations can apply, such as:

  • archives
  • genealogical organizations or societies
  • historical societies
  • Indigenous organizations or government institutions (a First Nations, Inuit, and/or Métis Nation band council, government organization or non-profit organization - cultural centres, community organizations, historical societies)
  • libraries
  • organizations with an archival component (an organization with a documentary heritage collection that portrays the past of the organization, its predecessors or the community in which it is located. The archival component would provide a dedicated storage for the collection(s), include accessible high-level descriptions and be accessible to the public.)
  • professional library or archival associations (incorporated bodies that represent the professional development of archivists, librarians, historians, authors, and information managers)

All applicants must be privately fundedFootnote 1 (50% or more) except for Indigenous organizations or government institutions.

Who can't apply

  • Businesses (for profit)
  • Government institutions (except Indigenous government institutions)
  • Publicly funded organizations (such as municipal libraries)
  • Educational institutions (public and private institutions, as well as institutions of higher learning, such as colleges, universities or trade schools)
  • Non-profit organizations administered by government
  • Non-profit organizations receiving more than 50% of their annual operating funding from any level of government
Ineligible applicants can still take part in a project submitted by an eligible applicant. They're allowed to provide goods, services or financial help. However, an ineligible organization cannot act as a co-applicant or official partner. They're not allowed to benefit financially from the contribution.

Project objectives

The program has two main objectives. We provide funding to local documentary heritage organizations for projects that meet one or both of these goals.

Access and awareness

Our first objective is to increase access to, and awareness of their holdings. Projects related to this goal include:

  • Collection-, catalogue- and access-based management (systematic, planned and documented process of maintaining and preserving collections, such as activities to enhance the archival standard descriptions of collections in order to increase physical, intellectual and bibliographical access to them)
  • commemorative projects (initiatives that celebrate historical figures, places, events and accomplishments of local, regional and/or national significance)
  • digital file conversion (from one format or media into another) and digitization for access purposes
  • development (research, design and production) of virtual and physical exhibitions, including travelling exhibits that circulate to one or more venues

Improving capacity for preservation

Our second objective is to increase their capacity to keep and preserve Canada's documentary heritage. Projects related to this goal include:

  • conservation and preservation treatment
  • conversion and digitization for preservation purposes, including recording interviews for oral history projects
  • increased digital preservation capacity (excluding digital infrastructure related to day-to-day activities)
  • training and workshops that improve professional competencies and build the organization’s capacity
  • development of standards, performance and other measurement activities

Listen, Hear Our Voices

If your project aims to preserve existing documentary heritage related to Indigenous languages and cultures, Listen, Hear our Voices may be a good fit.

Eligible projects and activities

  • Migrating a collection or holdings to an online database
  • Adding archival standard descriptions, translations and transcriptions to finding aids
  • Recording oral historyFootnote 2 interviews (for example: with local veterans or Indigenous Elders)
    • Recording an oral history interview is an eligible activity.
    • Editing the recording is not (except for adding subtitles and translations). Editing oral history recordings is creating new documentary heritage (books, documentaries, podcasts, etc.)
  • Conserving and/or restoring portraits or photographs of historical and/or local significance
  • Creating an exhibition based on a specific collection
  • Developing and sharing best practices and policies for processing holdings
  • Digitizing a mixed media collection or local oral history interviews
  • Digitizing newspapers for which the applicant owns the copyright
  • Organizing a documentary heritage conference

Applicant organizations must own the documentary heritage collections they're seeking funding for.

Published materials

For applications involving published materials, your organization must have:

  • the originals in its possession or
  • clearance for questions related to rights and permissions

This applies to newspapers, serials, books, sound and video recordings.

Artifacts or objects

Items of cultural or historical interest, such as statues, globes or medals, are not eligible for this program.

Ineligible projects and activities

  • Acquiring a new collection
  • Projects involving documentary heritage collections that:
    • the applicant does not own
    • are not originals
    • for which the applicant does not hold appropriate rights and/or permissions
  • Activities related to artifacts or objects (such as statues, globes or medals)
  • Creating a book, magazine, theatre script, documentary film or podcast that features a collection
  • Editing oral history recordings into documentaries or short clips for publication on the web
  • Clearing backlogs of received materials
  • Developing an exhibition with material that is not in the applicant's custody
  • Renovating a building
  • Activities which the applicant would normally undertake as part of its ongoing operations


We can provide financial help for project-related expenses only, which can include:

  • Translating project-related communications material
  • Translating descriptive information (such as metadata), notably for official-language minority communities
  • Administration, shipping, promotion and communication expenses related to the project
  • Salaries and wages for project staff and consultants, and any travel expenses (consistent with the National Joint Council's Travel Directive)
  • Honoraria for Indigenous Elders
  • Buying and/or renting equipment and software required for the project (for example, to convert, digitize, preserve or catalogue)
  • Purchasing materials required for the project (such as archival boxes)
  • Project launch event costs, such as hospitality and acknowledgement/visibility of the contribution provided by the Government of Canada
  • Gifts to Indigenous Elders, valued at less than $100 each
  • Insurance costs for a travelling exhibition
  • Professional costs for conservation/preservation treatments
  • Project results evaluation costs (for example, staff or consultants to report on progress and results)
  • Training, competency and capacity-development activities

General administrativeFootnote 3 and travel costs can't add up to more than 20% of the total funding. This does not apply to projects involving travelling exhibitions or workshops.

We don't fund operational expensesFootnote 4, nor costs related to:

  • Acquiring documentary heritage
  • Expenses that would have been incurred if the project had not been undertaken
  • Acquiring or maintaining land, buildings, and equipment such as office furniture or vehicles
  • Creating books or documentaries based on a collection
  • Developing a project proposal or application for this or other funding programs
  • Employment Insurance, Canada Pension Plan and other benefits
  • Hospitality, other than the exceptions listed above
  • Honoraria for oral history interviews
  • Maintenance and overhead costs such as rent, heating or insurance
  • Salaries paid to staff at any level of government
  • Percentage for contingency expenses (an amount of funds set aside to cover any unexpected expenses of the project)
  • Taxes (for organizations that are exempt or eligible for reimbursement)