The Coalition for Canadian Digital Heritage (CCDH) was originally created as The National Heritage Digitization Strategy (NHDS) on June 3rd, 2016, when Guy Berthiaume, the Librarian and Archivist of Canada, called together professionals from Canadian memory institutions to form a coordinated Canadian effort for the digitization of heritage materials. Drawing inspiration from successful collaborative digitization strategies in other countries such as the Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand, the United States, and the European Union, the NHDS aimed to provide a cohesive way forward for the digitization of the collections of Canadian memory institutions, to ensure they remain relevant in the digital age by making their collections easily accessible.

The NHDS was developed to compliment strategies already in place at Canadian memory institutions and assist them in fulfilling their goals, while ensuring that a national plan of action is in place. One of the primary objectives of the NHDS was to assist in the acceleration of digitization, and assure the long-term viability of digitized documentary heritage by encouraging quality, standards-based efforts.

A national Steering Committee was formed with leaders from the Canadian GLAM community, with Library and Archives Canada (LAC) as Secretariat. The NHDS Steering Committee created a 2018-2019 Business Plan to guide their activities. During this time, the NHDS raised $1.1M in private donations to support 23 projects. One of these was a project to digitize four Indigenous newspapers, Windspeaker (1985-2015), Ha-Shilth-Sa (1974-2017), Turtle Island News (2001-2013) and Nunatsiaq News (1976-1978). The Committee also coordinated a successful Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) proposal for Uncommon Bonds, a two-year project focused on the digitization and digital return of nearly 60,000 pages of archival resources concerning Labrador Inuit. The NHDS Steering Committee and its working groups have also published a variety of resources in partnership with other groups, including a RightsStatements Report, Digital Preservation File Format Recommendations, Recommendations on Preservation Files for Use in the Digitization of Analog Audio and Video Recordings and Motion Picture Films, A Primer on Preserving Audio and Video Recordings, Digitization Best Practices and Recommendations, and a community survey on priority materials for digitization.

On September 23, 2020, the NHDS Secretariat was transferred from Library and Archives Canada to the Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN). Both the NHDS and CRKN agreed that the transition could increase funding opportunities, revitalize NHDS governance, and maintain and develop relationships between the NHDS and other organizations digitizing documentary heritage.

On November 27, 2020, the NHDS Steering Committee formally accepted a new governance structure. The NHDS Steering Committee members voted to form a new Executive Committee and for the existing NHDS Steering Committee to become the NHDS Advisory Committee. A Call for Expressions of Interest for the NHDS Advisory Committee was released and 34 new members were accepted onto the Advisory Committee, bringing the total membership to 49 members from across the Canadian GLAM community. It was decided to include as many diverse voices and perspectives as possible during the strategic planning process

In early 2021, the National Heritage Digitization Strategy (NHDS) Executive Committee, supported by the NHDS Advisory Committee and CRKN Secretariat, undertook a strategic planning process to refine the mission and vision for the NHDS and develop community-driven priorities. This included a survey, four open community calls, direct stakeholder engagement, conference presentations, and invaluable feedback from the NHDS’s large and diverse Advisory Committee. This strategic planning culminated in a Strategic Framework which was approved by the Executive Committee on September 26, 2022. To align with its new mission and goals, the NHDS was renamed the Coalition for Canadian Digital Heritage (CCDH). The framework was translated, a logo was commissioned, and a pdf version of the CCDH Strategic Framework was shared publicly on May 24, 2023.