The State of Heritage in Manitoba: A Call to Action

This provocative and thought provoking article by Gordon Goldsborough gives the reader an insight into Manitoba Heritage and the poor showing the Manitoba government has made in supporting Heritage over the decades.  It has never been a priority in Manitoba like it has been in other provinces.

In Gordon’s own words:  “The woeful funding situation in Manitoba is put into context by comparing the equivalent funding for provincial heritage organizations in Saskatchewan, our immediate neighbour to the west. Annual PHA funding from the Manitoba government ranges from $11,200 to $75,900 (median $27,400) while associations of archives and museums; archaeological, historical, and genealogical organizations; and Francophone historical groups in Saskatchewan receive $170,000 to $582,000 (median $180,500) or roughly seven times as much. Do people in Saskatchewan value their heritage more than those in Manitoba? If dollars count for anything, it appears so.

In summary, financial support for Manitoba’s heritage community is small compared to comparable jurisdictions, is declining in relative purchasing power, and is unstable because funding decisions are made annually so there is no meaningful opportunity for long-term strategic planning. The PHAs are struggling with the same issues of aging demographics and worker burnout as other volunteer-driven organizations in Manitoba. There are few opportunities for young Manitobans to find paid employment in the heritage sector. We are being called on to improve inclusivity of all perspectives and Indigenous reconciliation with no infusions of resources to do so. If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that technology can engage Manitobans regardless of where they live, but do heritage organizations have the means to exploit this potential to meet their province-wide mandates? I do not think so.

In my view, the solution to the woes of the heritage community in Manitoba comes down to money—much more of it and more stability in its provision. We have advocated to the provincial government to establish endowment funds—as it has done for a few “signature museums” around Manitoba—that would provide PHAs with stable funding sufficient to enable each of them to have, at a minimum, an office and one paid staff person. That proposal has, to date, been ignored.

I believe the present situation in Manitoba’s heritage community is unsustainable and, unless there is a meaningful re-engagement on the part of all levels of government, I predict bad times ahead. I urge you, as a reader of Prairie History, to raise this concern with your elected representatives.”

To read the full article giving the full history of heritage in Manitoba, click on this link:

Prairie History Editorial – Gordon Goldsborough

To contact your representative in the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba, please refer to this MLA Constituency Listing.  Find your representative and click on their name to access their email and phone number.  Send them the .pdf editorial above, and complain!  Tell them that the Provincial Heritage Organizations need stable annual funding to cover 1 paid staff member and an office.  See article by Mr. Goldsborough for more detail.

Make sure you email the Minister of Sport, Culture and Heritage (Andrew Smith he is in the list in the above paragraph) who is announcing a new fund for Arts, Culture and Sports in Community and this fund from the Department of Heritage doesn’t even mention Heritage except as an aside.  Shameful is what it is.  Check it out here.  

Mr. Goldsborough says it well.  CALL TO ACTION!  Contact your MLA and email Andrew Smith today.  Email the Premier, the Speaker of the House, and the opposition. What ACTION will you take today on behalf of all the Manitoba Provincial Heritage Organizations—including the Manitoba Genealogical Society?


2 Responses to The State of Heritage in Manitoba: A Call to Action

  • Leanne Darroch

    That is a sad situation. Many people across the country have a Manitoba heritage, including my family. It’s unusual to require a membership to locate relatives graves. The website needs to be easier to use as well. I will write a letter, but I doubt being from another province will hold much weight.
    Good luck!

    • Angela Fiebelkorn

      Hi Leanne,

      There are many genealogical organizations that require membership: Ancestry, MyHeritage, Manitoba Genealogical Society.  At MGS we charge only 1/2 what the big organizations cost and have a lot of local, specialized information.  You can order death certificates from the Province of Manitoba, but they charge a fee also. You can search old newspapers through but they also charge a fee.

      At MGS we have people who drive out and visit graveyards, and audit cemeteries.  Others then type up those lists and put them into our database.  All of that costs money.  Most of our cemetery transcripts (except for the really big cemeteries) cost under $10.00, and many rural cemeteries cost under $5.00.  It is affordable and helps offset some of our costs. 

      Send us an email with what you are looking for.  Our research team would be happy to help you.


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