The DEAF CULTURE CENTRE is a project of CCSD, a physical space,
celebrating Deaf life through the Arts in Sign Language.
The DEAF CULTURE CENTRE pushes Deaf culture forward into the world in a new way where old assumptions are challenged. The CENTRE is receptive and open to all cultures, but its primary function is to enrich and elevate the achievements of the Deaf community for everyone to understand and appreciate.
DEAF comes first because it is our identity. We say “CULTURE” rather than “CULTURAL” because the latter is an adjective, whereas
CULTURE represents an active agent at the core of our mission is to celebrate Deaf life using sign language.
CENTRE is what we are – a community of people that projects DEAF CULTURE.
We are an active agent and symbol of the Deaf community, a public forum that celebrates our culture, sign language, and the visual and performing arts. DEAF CULTURE CENTRE is capitalized so it reads and flows as one. The DEAF CULTURE CENTRE is a significant place where ideas begin, where things happen. It is welcoming and unique, from and for the Deaf community and all people.
Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf PROFILE In 1970 Forrest C. Nickerson, a Deaf person, recognized the need to create a Deaf cultural organization dedicated to enhancing the cultural lives of Deaf people across the country. Because of his vision, and with the support of people across Canada, the DEAF CULTURE CENTRE was established. Today the Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf (CCSD) represents over 450,000 Canadians and serves many more with its programs, cultural activities and Deaf heritage resources.
MANDATE Incorporated in 1973 as a non-profit charitable organization funded through private donations, the CCSD preserves, encourages and advances the cultural interests of Canada’s Deaf population. Key areas of concentration are performing arts, language, literature, history, visual arts and heritage resources. CCSD encourages new and developing forms of creativity, research, participation and interests in all areas. It also promotes better understanding between Deaf and hearing adults and children as well as promoting literacy for Deaf children. CCSD is the parent organization of the DEAF CULTURE CENTRE featuring a museum, art gallery, gift shop, research and archives, state-of-the art virtually rich technology highlighting Deaf historical artifacts, Sign Language literature and multimedia production studio.
Open to the public and rooted in the Deaf community; it is a celebration of Deaf life for all to enjoy. Set in the culture, arts and entertainment Distillery Historic District in the heart of Old Town Toronto, the centre provides programs on culture, history, visual and performing arts with ongoing workshops, permanent and traveling exhibits, school tours and virtual displays.
OTHER PROJECTS of the Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf CCSD supports Deaf children and youth at summer camps by providing positive Deaf role models and awards, grants to promote youth exchange programs, special projects, Deaf Children’s festivals, Youth Canada tournaments, literature and arts production for children, youth and adults.
CCSD participates in and promotes the Deaf Canada Conference, held every two years, providing opportunities to meet and participate in educational, cultural and recreational activities – hosted through a provincial bidding process. CCSD manages DEAF CULTURE CENTRE and SLIC(Sign Language Instructors of Canada).CCSD has developed a standardized tool known as ASLICE (American Sign Language Instructors of Canada Evaluation) to assess ASL and LSQ skills for instructors of sign language. We have a list of American Sign Language Proficiency Interviewers and Raters (ASLPI) certified by York University in collaboration with CCSD.
Preliminary plans are in the works to design an ASL/English dictionary for children accessible via ASL and to design a much needed LSQ dictionary for adults and youth alike. CCSD has produced deafplanet.com in collaboration with marblemedia, Inc. featured on TVO with accompanying website in ASL/LSQ, English and French that provides positive Deaf role models, interactions among Deaf and hearing youth and Deaf heritage information. CCSD also supports DeafTV, the first Canadian broadcast TV program dedicated to the life of Deaf Canadians. The DEAF CULTURE CENTRE, a project of CCSD, has developed a virtual museum website www.deafculturecentre.ca.
This state-of- the-art multilingual site offers content in ASL, LSQ, English and French, providing visitors from around the world a virtual view into the Centre’s award-winning Deaf heritage exhibits, archives and multi-media capabilities.
Then, Now, Future
By Co-Directors, Anita Small, Ed.D. and Joanne Cripps
Then: The “Kindling” of an Organization In 1970 Forrest Nickerson and Angela Stratiy from Western Canada, together with other Deaf leaders from across Canada, founded the Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf (CCSD), the only national cultural organization for Deaf Canadians. A non-profit organization, receiving money through private donations and incorporated under a federal charter in 1973, CCSD has provincial affiliates across the country with representatives serving the national board of directors from each province and territory. Representing over 450,000 Canadians, CCSD has preserved, encouraged and advanced the cultural interests of Canada’s Deaf population through the performing arts, language, literature, history, visual arts and heritage resources. Over the past 35 years, CCSD has encouraged new and developing forms of creativity, research, education and participation, promoted better understanding between Deaf and hearing adults and children, promoted literacy for Deaf children and expanded and promoted Canadian Deaf heritage resources, Deaf children’s festivals, international exchange programs for youth and national cultural programs for children, youth and adults. Now: Illuminating Deaf Culture!
When CCSD was first founded, Forrest Nickerson, CCSD’s first president, had another dream –to establish a DEAF CULTURE CENTRE. This dream has now become a reality! Under the auspices of CCSD and with unanimous support from the board of directors, Joanne Cripps and Anita Small spearheaded the investigation, feasibility and establishment of the DEAF CULTURE CENTRE. They met with and interviewed museum and gallery directors, curators, strategic planners, architects, designers, multimedia producers, lease agents, educators, government agencies, lawyers, accountants and members of the Deaf community. They conducted a feasibility study and charrette sessions with leaders of the Deaf community, developed site plans with Quadrangle Architects, launched the fundraising campaign with Wayne Hussey Consulting Inc. and worked with Bruce Mau Design Inc. to produce the vision document, identity and design for the centre’s marketing and exhibits.
The DEAF CULTURE CENTRE opened at the historic culture, arts and entertainment Distillery District right in the heart of Old Town Toronto in the spring, 2006! A project of the Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf, it features a museum, art gallery, gift shop, research and archives, state-of-the-art visually rich technology highlighting Deaf historical artifacts, literature, ASL/LSQ interactive website/television and multimedia production studio.
The DEAF CULTURE CENTRE is a symbol of the Deaf community celebrating Deaf life. It is a public forum both historical and forward-looking.
The DEAF CULTURE CENTRE is contemporary, a fun gathering place that is open to the public and rooted in the Deaf community. It provides education, culture, visual and performing arts. It holds ongoing workshops, performances, permanent exhibits and special exhibits.
The DEAF CULTURE CENTRE is a convergence point for Deaf and hearing people to immerse themselves creatively within Deaf culture. The Future: A “Lighthouse” Celebrating Deaf Life! CCSD President, Helen Pizzacalla has described the DEAF CULTURE CENTRE as a “lighthouse that will draw people to celebrate Deaf life from around the world”.
This place is about Deaf Culture. What it was, is and will be. It is a culture of creativity and open expression. It is the place to where the Deaf community migrates and from which it emanates. It is in a place like this that culture is made. It is a place where things happen.
The DEAF CULTURE CENTRE preserves language and history while continually exploring new technologies and ideas. Award winner in the 10th annual best of Canada Design Competition for Canadian Interiors in 2007, the DEAF CULTURE CENTRE is a unique, evolving place that is open and welcoming to all. It looks to the past to uncover the future so it can speak to the present in a fresh and exciting way.