Sharing Our Stories

What is the Sharing Our Stories Project?

Our culture and heritage includes many different components and perspectives that make this region unique. The municipality supports culture and heritage in many ways including festivals, public art, heritage buildings, natural landscapes, archives, and museums just to name a few.  The 2014 Regional Plan identified the need to create a plan to assist the municipality in clarifying its vision, principles and priorities to more effectively guide investments and decisions related to culture and heritage. Also known as the Culture and Heritage Priorities Plan (CHPP), the Sharing Our Stories project will clarify the municipality's role in supporting culture and heritage by: 

  • Analyzing the municipality’s current support for culture and heritage by reviewing existing programs, policies and complete best practices research
  • Completing targeted stakeholder and rights holder engagement, youth engagement, and provide opportunities for broader public input.
  • Developing and prioritizing a set of actions with timelines to improve how the municipality supports culture and heritage.

The draft plan is now available for review and will be presented at the July 26, 2023 Heritage Advisory Committee meeting.


Continuing Targeted Engagement: May 2021

Throughout 2020 and into 2021, the project team and members of Council have continued to meet with community leaders and organizations towards the completion of a targeted engagement strategy. Work was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but engagement is proceeding once again. This strategy is focused on hearing from those under-represented and cultural communities whose unique interests or views have often not been addressed through previous, more conventional engagement processes. We have prioritized meeting with Mi’kmaq and Indigenous Rightsholders, African Nova Scotian Community, Acadian and Francophone Communities, Immigrants and Newcomers, and Persons with Disabilities. 
The dialogue has been extensive and in-depth and to date we have met with leaders and collaborators from the communities. 

As these meetings are completed, we will be broadening engagement to seek input from the general public and a survey will be released in late summer 2021 to confirm the priorities and gather input on the draft actions.  

Have thoughts and ideas about this project? Send an email to our project team. 

Sign up to give feedback on the draft actions once they have been developed and to join our mailing list. 


Draft  Project Framework : February 2020 

On December 11, 2019, the Community Planning and Economic Development Committee (CPED) heard a project update on the Sharing Our Stories plan. The presentation shared a draft framework including a Vision, Pillars, and Goals for the plan. View the presentation to learn more about the suggested directions for the plan. 
Looking ahead, the Sharing Our Stories team will bring a draft of the plan framework to CPED in Summer 2020.

A draft framework has been developed with a Vision, Pillars, and Goals to guide policy objectives for the plan. Find the draft Vision, Pillars, and Goals highlighted below. View detail on the Pillars and Goals and how they work together (scroll down through the presentation).

Draft Vision & Principles
A draft framework has been developed with a Vision, Pillars, and Goals to guide policy objectives for the plan. Find the draft Vision, Pillars, and Goals highlighted below. View detail on the Pillars and Goals and how they work together (scroll down through the presentation).

We will celebrate culture to strengthen our sense of place and belonging. 
We will support connection and inclusion through cultural expression. 
We will uphold the principles of Truth and Reconciliation. 
We will create a region that reflects the diversity of the people who live here. 
We will be stewards of our heritage and cultural resources and look to the past to enrich the future. 
We will value and support creators, artists, and performers. 
We will promote the cultures of the Halifax Region and share our stories.

•    Stewardship: nurturing our cultural resources, maintaining them, protecting, and renewing them
•    Connection: recognizing and valuing the unique yet often underrepresented or untold stories and histories within our region
•    Celebration: Supporting all people that live here, including newcomers, and people of all ages, abilities, cultural heritage, and interests
•    Access: Providing opportunities for everyone to participate and enjoy culture and heritage

1. Express Culture through Place 
This is about placemaking, and the physical environment as a reflection of who we are as a region. It helps us to identify and tell the stories of specific people and places, our presence on the land or in settlement patterns, and reflects existing and emerging cultures.

2. Support Cultural Capacity
This is about how we will replenish, renew or develop our cultural services, cultural facilities, access to artifacts, events programming and use of spaces. We can create a stronger network of resources through partnerships, collaboration and coordination across the region.

3. Value Creativity
This is about showcasing our culture and heritage. We commit to encourage and support excellence in artistic expressions through events, direct funding to professional arts organizations, non-profits and community organizations


Pre-Engagement and Project Initiation: 2018 - 2019

Engagement was identified as a key component of Sharing Our Stories, to reach diverse voices and ensure the final Plan is reflective of the community. In 2018 the municipality issued a survey to culture and heritage stakeholders requesting information on cultural infrastructure. HRM and Nova Scotia Communities Culture and Heritage then used those results to help populate a database and map of existing cultural assets throughout the region, including heritage buildings and sites, cultural landscapes, museums, cultural infrastructure, ethnocultural facilities, cultural landscapes, and areas of archaeological potential.

Throughout 2019 municipal staff conducted background research on best practices in other jurisdictions, demographic trends, and the results of past engagement activities. The project team found many recent previous engagement activities that touched on Culture and Heritage which created a foundation to build a targeted approach to address gaps. Given the importance of diversity in the plan, a targeted engagement program was developed to connect with specific stakeholders and traditionally underrepresented groups.

The targeted pre-engagement program rolled out over the winter of 2019. Its goal was to bring equity to the engagement process and to consider diverse perspectives when developing the overall engagement plan. Based on these conversations and feedback, the framework for the plan will be developed - a vision, set of pillars, principles, and a draft set of actions that can be further refined and developed through more detailed and in-depth engagement in future phases of the project. 

What is Culture and Heritage?

Culture is how we understand, express and communicate our unique perspectives and histories, and the medium through which we celebrate the diversity of experiences and identities in the Halifax Regional Municipality. 

Culture includes the broad spectrum of arts and creative expression, community character and identity, culturally-held practices, languages and traditions. Heritage is a critical component of culture—it’s our cultural memory and how we can better understand the culture of our place and time through the lens of those cultural forms, traditions, arts and expressions that preceded and informed it.

Culture is the substance of our shared and unique identities, and the dynamic basis for defining who and what we are as a people.

Below are examples of culture:
A STORY SHARED—over a pizza baked in the community oven in the Dartmouth common.
A LANDMARK—meeting a friend at the Public Gardens.
A CELEBRATION—listening to traditional music at L’Acadie de Chezzetcook.
A FUTURE EXPRESSION—supporting NSCAD grads as they pursue careers in the cultural industries.
AN ANNUAL TRADITION—gathering for fireworks on New Year’s eve.

How does the Halifax Regional Municipality support Culture and Heritage?  

Nearly every department of Halifax Regional Municipality is involved in some way in supporting culture—from the Municipal Archives, to Planning & Development, to Civic Events. While the municipality currently offers a variety of opportunities in the arts, cultural and heritage sectors, it has not yet established coordinated priorities on the allocation of these resources- How are they employed? Who are they directed to? And, How do we measure success?  

The Sharing Our Stories Project is an undertaking of the municipality intended to clarify its role in cultural investment and includes assessment of current programs, identification of gaps, and the rationalization of overall investment in Culture toward the maximum benefit of all residents 

Here are some examples of how the municipality supports local culture and heritage:

  • The Grants to Professional Arts Organizations program directly funds not-for-profit arts organizations and specific arts projects each year. The program funded 31 organizations and 9 individual projects in 2019-2020. 
  • The Halifax Regional Municipality is the first municipal government to create a Gord Downie & Channie Wenjack fund Legacy Space in City Hall. 
  • You can borrow from our collection of over 150 musical instruments using your library card—just like you borrow books.  
  • We've named our newest ferries after Nova Scotia civil rights activist Viola Desmond and Rita Joe, a Mi’kmaw artist, songwriter and craftswoman from Eskasoni First Nation in Cape Breton.
  • The municipality acts as a steward of the Shubenacadie Canal Cultural Landscape by protecting the area as parkland.
  • Memory keepers, the Municipal Archives houses images, words, artifacts and objects that tell our civic history. The municipality supports many community museums in telling our stories.
  • Barrington Street  Revitalization project: $3.9 million budgeted in tax incentives and grant programs to revitalize the street. 
  • Staff time, equipment and resources like transit are donated in support of Nocturne: Art at Night, bringing art and wonder to the streets of Halifax and Dartmouth.   
  • The municipality provides a grant to the Middle Musquodoboit Agricultural Society to host the annual Halifax County Exhibition. This traditional country fair has been in existence since 1884 and continues to attract visitors to its livestock competitions, displays, and local vendors. 


Culture and Heritage in the Halifax Regional Municipality

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