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Canadian ePolicy Resource Centre



e-Policy Resources

Canadian Culture Online Policy Statement


The Internet continues to be a powerful agent of change in our economy and society. The means and methods of interaction used by Canadians are changing with it. Youth today view the Internet not only as an information resource, but also as a virtual space where they can experience and interact with digital content and their linked peers. For the first time, more Canadians consider access to the Internet "essential" (30%) than cable TV (24%) .

The Internet provides citizens - even those living in the most remote areas of Canada - with the ability to experience and express their culture - from students looking for Canadian information through an increasing number of access points (ranging from PCs to cell phones to personal digital assistants), to Canadian authors, creators and new media producers. As such, the Internet represents a tremendous opportunity to add to our understanding of Canada and its rich diversity, and to support our culture here and abroad.

New media, by definition, is broader than culture, but cultural products and services lend themselves particularly well to this medium. The combination of real-time interactivity with different types of media - such as print, audio and video - has an unprecedented capacity to increase the participation of all Canadians in our cultural life.

Within this context, the federal government developed a policy to ensure a dynamic and diverse Canadian cultural presence on the Internet. By anticipating a future where the majority of Canadians spend time in the digital interactive space being entertained, engaged and informed, the policy promotes creativity and the development of interactive Canadian cultural content for the digital 21st century.

History of the CCO Strategy

The Government’s interest in an online cultural space started in 1997 with the creation of the Multimedia Investment Fund. Since then, numerous studies and consultations undertaken by the Government of Canada have identified a need for government leadership in Canadian culture online, including reports by: the National Advisory Board for Canadian Culture Online , the Commissioner of Official Languages , the Information Highway Advisory Council and the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage .

In response to these consultations and reports, the Government developed a strategy for Canadian Culture Online. The Canadian Culture Online policy outlined in this document implements the strategy

Toward Content, Access and Environment

The Canadian Culture Online policy is comprised of the following three objectives:

  • to support the creation and production of innovative, interactive, and engaging Canadian cultural content for the Internet in both English and French;
  • to increase access and build audiences for Canadian digital cultural content; and
  • to contribute to an environment that enables Canada's cultural industries, institutions, creators and communities to produce and make available high quality Canadian cultural content.

Canadian Culture Online Policy Objectives

Objective 1: Creating Innovative, Interactive and Engaging Canadian Cultural Content

The policy seeks to develop a unique space for Canadian cultural content on the Internet by promoting the creation of high-quality, authoritative content by supporting the development and presentation of nationally significant collections, and by helping to make primary resources on Canada available online. It assists new media entrepreneurs to create interactive multimedia products that are recognized around the world for their excellence and creativity.

The ‘Creation of Cultural Content’ objective is focused on three key issues:

  • promoting a strong new media sector;
  • increasing French on the Internet; and
  • fostering learning content.

New Media Industry Issues

The continued viability of the Canadian new media industry, which is comprised of 1800 small and medium sized enterprises, is a vital component of the success of Canada’s presence in the Internet. The creators of Canada’s youngest cultural industry are our expert guides in the digital interactive space, providing users with an intuitive and engaging means to find and experience rich Canadian cultural content. Despite a growing audience, the business models for the development of this content are continuing to evolve. Targeted government support encourages the development of new intellectual property and ensures that our youth continue to have access to new and innovative Canadian cultural experiences in the digital space.

French on the Internet

While there has been an increase in the number of French sites in recent years, the relative scarcity of meaningful and authoritative French-language content online remains an issue. The lack of visibility of French sites continues to make it difficult for Francophones to find content in their language. CCO policy strives to ensure that Canada's bilingualism is an integral component of its investments in content creation online.

Cultural Learning Content for Parents, Teachers & Students

Increasingly teachers are using technologies in their classroom to engage students in using the Internet as a key research tool to learn more about Canada's history and cultural expressions. The policy recognizes that e learning is an integral teaching tool and that the federal government’s role is to provide engaging interactive cultural content suitable for home and school settings across Canada.

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Objective 2: Increasing access to and audiences for Canadian content

Canadian Culture Online has made Canadian content easier to find and access on the Internet by funding the creation of gateways, or portals, to Canadian cultural content online in both official languages. These gateways provide windows to a wide range of cultural information, products and services emanating from governments, not-for-profit organizations and business. The gateways:

  • improve visibility of and build audiences for Canada’s diverse cultural experiences;
  • assist the Canadian museum community in achieving a collective online presence;
  • encourage the online exploration of our heritage and culture, both at home and abroad; and
  • provide a single window to a wide range of resources for and about Aboriginal Canadians.

In addition to funding portals, CCO also promotes access to Canadian culture online by requiring funding recipients to comply with technical standards that increase the visibility of sites on commercial search engines.

As part of this policy objective to increase access to Canadian content, it is important to increase access to online content by and about culturally-diverse and Aboriginal Canadians. Showcasing such content strengthens the connections among Canadians and deepens understanding across diverse communities. Canadian Culture Online wants to ensure these groups have greater opportunities to share their culture online.

Objective 3: Enabling an environment for content production

Canadian Culture Online fosters an environment to lead Canada to become a world leader in digital cultural content creation and production. CCO aims to create such an environment by:

  • stimulating applied research at the intersection of technology and culture, to maintain Canada’s strengths in developing innovative technology applications for the development of cultural content;
  • fostering research networks among, new media, cultural and academic institutions in Canada; and
  • helping the new media sector grow – through projects such as workshops and internships that provide professional development opportunities for and raise the profile of new media creators.

Teamwork guarantees success

In implementing this policy, the Government works hand in hand with a wide range of individuals and organizations that create cultural content and disseminate knowledge in Canada. Partners include cultural communities, archives, libraries, museums, federal organizations, new media producers, and non-government and not-for-profit organizations.

A Growing Presence

In today's digital economy and society, Canadians increasingly turn to the Internet to access and interact with Canadian cultural content. The Government of Canada will continue to evaluate and adjust this policy to ensure Canadians can find vibrant and engaging Canadian cultural experiences in one of the most innovative and dynamic media ever invented. Ongoing consultation with key stakeholders will be an essential part of this process.

The Government of Canada's investment in innovative and interactive new media content creation and research will help our cultural industries prosper in the 21st century. At the same time, Canadians will be entertained, engaged and informed by quality Canadian cultural content in an online environment that continues to evolve and flourish.

Programs Implementing Policy

A series of targeted funds and initiatives were introduced between 2001 and 2004 in support of the policy. These include:

  1. EKOS - Rethinking the Information Highway, June 2003
  2. Report of the National Advisory Board for Canadian Culture Online (2003,Discover Canada: Canadian Culture Online)
  3. Commissioner of Official Languages' August 1999 special study (The Government of Canada and French on the Internet); and the latter report’s 2002 follow-up report (French on the Internet: Key to Canadian Identity and the Knowledge Economy)
  4. Final report of the Information Highway Advisory Council (Preparing Canada for a Digital World)
  5. Report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage (June 1999 - A Sense of Place - A Sense of Being)

Last Modified: 2008 - 05 - 06