ACSN after the abolition of the Understanding Canada Program

Earlier this year I informed you that the Canadian Government has decided to abolish the 'Understanding Canada program' as of May 1 of this year. This decision has brought to an end a program that over the years has provided well‐targeted funds to scholarly associations in countries around the world to encourage the study of Canada. Under the umbrella of the Understanding Canada Program, the Canadian government provided a series of programs that supported teaching and research, both at the individual and at the institutional level. For the Netherlands the consequences of the abolition are substantial:

  • Abolition of the Faculty Enrichment Program (FEP) means the end of assistance to academics in higher education institutions to develop and teach courses about Canada in their own discipline, as part of their regular teaching load.

  • Abolition of the Faculty Research Program (FRP) means the end of assistance to individual academics in higher education institutions to undertake short-term research about Canada or on an aspect of Canada's bilateral relations with the participating countries. The purpose is to increase knowledge and understanding of Canada through publication of pertinent articles in the foreign or international scholarly press.

  • Abolition of the Doctoral Students Research Awards (DRSA) means the end of assistance to full-time graduate students at degree-granting institutions of higher education, whose dissertations are related in substantial part to Canada, to undertake doctoral research about Canada. The purpose is to increase knowledge and understanding of Canada.

  • Abolition of the Canada-Europe Awards (CEA) means the end of support to scholars in universities or research institutes in the European countries to undertake short term research, including collaborative research, contributing to the understanding of bilateral and multilateral relations between Canada and the European countries.

  • Abolition of the Internation Research Linkages (IRL) awards means the end of a program that facilitates international collaboration within the academic community while fostering the development of permanent exchange networks by providing assistance to teams of researchers from Canada and one or more countries in order to organize seminars or other forms of research linkages.

  • Abolition of the Conference Travel Assistance Program (CTA) ends the help to fund the participation of third-country (=non-Canadian) scholars at major conferences of associations of Canadian Studies which are members of the International Council for Canadian Studies (ICCS)

  • Abolition of the Canada Conference Grant Program (CCG) ends all Canadian financial support for state of the art conferences on Canada.

  • Abolition of the Program Development Grants (PDG) ends the support for setting up new academic programs that focus on the study of Canada.

  • Abolition of the Assistance Program for Canadian Studies Associations ends Canadian financial support for the ACSN that thus looses its most important source of income.

In close co-operation with sister organizations throughout the world, united in the International Council for Canadian Studies, the ACSN has urged the Canadian government to reconsider this decision and re-invest in this important program (a letter to Prime Minister Harper is included in this newsletter). So far there are no signs that the Canadian government in the short term will respond favorably to this request, which confronts ACSN with the dilemma to continue or discontinue its activities.

In a special meeting the ACSN Board has discussed the options and has decided to continue its operations be it on a restricted basis. This means:

  • ACSN will continue to provide a limited number of scholarships through the Netherlands Fund for Canada Studies to cover travel and accomodation expenses up to a maximum of EUR 1,150 under the "ACSN International Student Networking Program" and the "ACSN Student Research Awards Program".

  • ACSN will continue its support for the "Thinking Canada Study Tour" that is organized annually by the European Network for Canadian Studies in co-operation with the European Commission. ACSN members can thus apply for inclusion in this study tour

  • ACSN will continue its membership of the International Council for Canadian Studies (ICCS) that gives ACSN members access to ICCS scholarship programs and awards.

  • ACSN will continue to provide limited financial support on a matching grant basis for seminars and guest lectures

  • ACSN will continue to keep you informed about "things Canadian" through a reconstructed web site ( ) that will be online as of November 2012. This reconstructed website will include the traditional ACSN Newsletter that will no longer appear separately.

Although ACSN has to scale back its activities, the Board is still convinced that ACSN can continue to contribute to and facilitate the study of Canada in the Netherlands, a study that, we hope, will lead to a better understanding of Canada.

Dr. Cornelius Remie M.S.M., President ACSN