Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation

Intangible Cultural Heritage

Intangible cultural heritage (ICH), sometimes called "living heritage", comprises those non-tangible or physical aspects of a culture that define us. They can include traditional knowledge and skills, beliefs, oral traditions, customs, languages, music, dance, and celebrations. ICH is dynamic in that it is transmitted across generations and shaped anew as each generation innovates, experiments and adapts to changing social norms and values. Aspects of ICH can often be at risk of disappearing due to the increasing influences of globalization and mass media.

Safeguarding ICH is vital to sustaining a community's innate creativity and sense of identity. Therefore, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has included ICH as a key initiative in its Provincial Strategic Culture Plan. A Working Group appointed by the Department of Business, Tourism, Culture and Rural Development has generated a strategy, gathering input from various stakeholders, and drawing heavily from discussions at the Intangible Cultural Heritage Forum held in St. John's in June, 2006.

The strategy provides direction for both the Provincial Government and other groups and stakeholders interested in safeguarding ICH. As such, it is not a "government strategy", rather one that is shared between a variety of groups and agencies that have a role to play in safeguarding ICH. The strategy includes a vision, mission and set of guiding principles, as well as a series of practical goals and steps to achieve them.

The strategic vision is: "To ensure that the intangible cultural heritage of Newfoundland and Labrador is safeguarded as a living heritage and source of contemporary creativity." The strategy deals with four main components:

  1. Documentation of ICH information and traditions for future generations following best practices in documentation*
  2. Celebration of ICH at local, provincial, national and international levels, and the recognition of individuals, groups and communities who carry on ICH traditions.
  3. Transmission and dissemination of traditional skills, knowledge and practices from older to younger generations.
  4. Support cultural enterprise that responsibly draws on our traditional knowledge, skills and cultural practices to support community economic development.

*The Department of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation supports and encourages the use of Memorial University's Digital Archive Initiative (DAI) as a central repository for all electronic records relating to ICH as a way to ensure that such information is widely available to the public on a long-term basis.

In 2008, the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador was chosen by the Department of Business, Tourism, Culture and Rural Development to guide the implementation of the strategy. An ICH Advisory Committee was created to advise the process. Dale Jarvis, Intangible Cultural Heritage Development Officer, works with groups and communities interested in undertaking planning and projects related to safeguarding ICH. Please visit the Intangible Cultural Heritage website: opens new window


Quick Links

Last Updated:
This page and all contents are copyright, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, all rights reserved.