Become part of history on May 2

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Diane Lynn Tibert

Roots to the Past


On May 2 Canadians across the country will be asked a very important question. No, this has nothing to do with the federal election.

This is more important than politics. The answer to this one simple question will reverberate into the future to genealogists and historians. It's vital that all Canadians take note of the question and check the 'Yes' box. If 'No' is checked or if the question is left blank future generations may be left holding an empty bag.

Statistics Canada, the government branch responsible for taking and preserving the Canada Census, is the one posing the question. It will ask, just as it did in 2006, for "respondents" permission to release their personal information after 92 years. Without permission, Statistics Canada cannot forward records to Library and Archives Canada for public release after the waiting period. "Questions left blank are viewed as a 'no' response."

So what, you might say. Or 'who cares?' you might ask. Well, your grandchildren and their children may care. Census returns are one of the few records left behind by past generations in which genealogists can piece together family units. Through this one source, researchers can learn the names, relationships, birth dates and ethnic origins of a family. This information can solve mysteries and provide insight no other record can.

Another way to help future generations learn about you and your family tree is to leave comments in the note section. In the 2006 census, I recorded the names of my parents, when and where they were born (my father's death date), their parents' names, where and when they were born and their death dates. Although brief, these vital pieces of information will help my descendants connect me to my past.

Every person living in Canada, as well as Canadians working outside the country, are legally bound to complete a census form. Information gathered helps governments, businesses, associations and community organizations to better serve the population. The services directly affected include schools, daycares, seniors care centres and police and fire services.

To learn more about the 2011 Census, including information on the option to complete the questionnaire online, visit Statistics Canada ( The census form is available in Canada's two official languages, as well as 20 ethnic languages and 11 aboriginal languages, Braille, audio and signed video.

New this year is the National Household Survey (NHS). It had been part of the regular census through the long-form questionnaire and had been mandatory. The NHS arrives at homes in early June. Completion is voluntary. Questions posed include activity limitations, citizenship and immigration, language, ethnic origin, place of birth of parents and many others. Everyone who receives the NHS is encouraged to complete it.

Census questionnaires are distributed on May 2, but the questions must be answered according the household demographics on May 10.

Don't be erased from history; check the 'yes' box to have your information available for others in 92 years.


Diane Lynn Tibert is a freelance writer based in central Nova Scotia. She is the alter-ego of Candy McMudd, author of Mystery Light in Cranberry Cove. Submit a query. It's free! 1787 Highway 2, Milford, Hants County, NS, B0N 1Y0; or visit The Family Attic, home to Roots to the Past:

Organizations: Statistics Canada, Canada Census, NHS Library and Archives Canada Roots

Geographic location: Canada, Nova Scotia, Cranberry Cove Hants County

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