Today we start a new series: interviews with our 2021 Virtual Showcase sponsors! This interview is conducted by Shreyanshi, Alumni Council Member, with Rob Kikkert, President of BC Hydro Power Pioneers. You can watch the video here, or scroll down for the transcript.
Q: Can you please introduce yourself?
R: My name is Rob Kikkert, and I’m the president of BC Hydro Power Pioneers. I’m a retired employee of BC Hydro.
Q: What is the main goal of you organization:
R: The main goal for our organization is to support our communities and each other. We started Power Pioneers back in 1990, and we were three branches at that particular time, and now we’ve grown into fifteen branches throughout the province. What all of these branches do is support their local communities and the broader projects that Power Pioneers may have. The biggest thing for us is just getting together with each other, and meeting our friends, though it’s something we’ve missed (due to the pandemic).
S: Absolutely, with the pandemic, we’ve all moved online.
R: And we’ve all still managed to do things. I think the heritage group has also had to go online, but we’ve managed to be able to continue to support you over the past couple of years.
S: We appreciate your support a lot!
Q: Going a bit deeper into your organization, what is your vision or goal for this upcoming year?
R: Well, we’re doing the normal things we always do; our main fundraising activities are around the BC Children’s Hospital. Within the past 30 years we’ve already raised a million dollars, and so we are on our way to our second million, and we’ll continue doing that. On the provincial side, where I work, we are trying to have some welcome back meetings, and we’ve asked our branches if they’d want to have some in-person meetings…subject to what Dr. Bonnie Henry says. We also have board work such as our bylaws and constitution, and we are also planning our AGM, we are hoping to have an in-person meeting soon!
S: Thank you for sharing, the fundraising goals you shared are very inspiring for me too!
R: Thank you. Not only do we fundraise for BC Children’s, we also have United Way. Also, all of the branches have their own charities that they support. We are quite active in that area.
Q: Can you share some of your experiences working with the BCHFS (BC Heritage Fairs Society)?
R: From my personal experiences, I was in the Vancouver branch, we supported the Sea to Sky Heritage Fair. I went to that fair, that was the first time I went, and I’ve now gone for about four to five years. I kind of have first hand experience on how these fairs work. We help out with judging and we always have our own awards that we present.
Q: Why do you choose to support Heritage Fairs?
R: We as retirees are big on heritage, so much so that we’ve written four to five books on the history of BC Hydro. If you’ve been to one of our fairs, we’d be giving one of those books to some lucky students. Even now, we are in the process of writing a book about the Bridge River, which was one of the bigger hydro dams that BC Electric (Hydro’s predecessor) built back in the forties or fifties. So we are writing a story, or rather a book of what happened back then.
S: That sounds very interesting, I’d love to read more about that.
R: Well we are very close to having that book finished. It was interesting to hear about some of the people who were involved…and all of the main characters got their own substation named after them, so it was fun to see what they’d done in the past.
S: Absolutely, I think also with Heritage Fairs we like to look into our history and I think that’s a common point for our projects.
R: Yes, and we are big supporters of your group.
Q: Moving on to our last question, how can the Heritage Fairs community support your group?
R: I think you can do that best by continuing what you are doing and teaching. Making history a key subject or area that students should get interested in. My own understanding of that is that if you don’t understand your history, you are condemned to doing it again. So, if you haven’t learnt from your history, you are condemned to repeat the same mistakes that were done in the past.
S: Thank you for doing this interview with me!
R: It’s been fun, thank you for having us!
That was it for the interview with one of our Sponsor Groups, Power Pioneers. We’ll have more interviews coming soon!
In confronting our past selves and looking into our past, we often note that some of our doings are seen today as immensely unjustifiable and wrong. But just as we regard them as gravely immoral today, people of the time justified these actions back then for numerous different reasons, most of them being thought of as outdated and unethical nowadays.
Some of Canada’s past wrongdoings include the internment of Japanese-Canadian civilians during the Second World War, or the horror of residential schools, the system meant to wipe out culture in a ruthlessly efficient way. Only in the late 20th century did a large majority of us realize that these actions were wrong, as part of our changing outlook on diversity. The right thing to do, we decided, was to make amends to survivors or descendants of those who had suffered in these horrible events, be it through compensations or official apologies. But what should we do in order to avoid making the same mistakes? What do we have to do now?
This is called the Ethical Dimension, one of the most in-depth historical thinking axioms we consult in our reflections on history. We often judge historical events through a more fact-based lens, such as by considering the events that occurred, the numbers of people involved, and the places where the events took place. But it is not quite as often when we look at the effects of the events on the people who were involved, either involuntarily or voluntarily. We see conflicts like the War of 1812 and judge them based on the impacts they had on faceless entities like nations and governments. But rarely do we take a closer look at the psychological impacts the event had on the people involved, or how it changed a population’s thinking, or even how it changed our cultures. The Ethical Dimension means investigating the rationale behind events, how it has changed our cultures, and, if we now regard the rationale as in the wrong, how to avoid making the same mistakes. When combined with other historical concepts it provides one with a further understanding of a past matter, and hopefully in doing so we can make a change to our country and perhaps the world.
Aaand we’re back with day two of our first ever Virtual Provincial Heritage Fair!
We opened with some introductory comments from Rachel, our Alumni Program Manager. She mentioned something about the Journal Elf(s)… what could that be about?
Robert Bateman Foundation
Our first presentation was Carey-Lynn from the Bateman Foundation! She played a video of Mr. Bateman talking about what each individual’s special place might be, and reminded us that in thinking of our home and the environment that surrounds us as a special place, we get to know it better, and identify why it’s special. That makes us more likely to take care of it.
Carey-Lynn also led us through some drawing exercises, and showed another video of one of Mr Bateman’s sketching practices. She recommends starting out with basic shapes and then adding in cross-hatching or shading for perspectives. Keeping a nature journal is also a great idea!
A quick break for some nature sketching, and then moving on to our next presentation!
Rebecca was our first interviewee, and she was interviewed by Tracy.
Many of the wider-known stories (such as collections and fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm) are sexist, and teach us one version of history, whereas many forgotten stories and legends are more “politically correct.” Stories like ‘The Nettle Princess’ shows the princess rescuing the prince, which is a type of narrative that we’re unfamiliar with in most popular fairy tales. Rebecca’s project compares the role of women in fairy tales and Indigenous stories, and she wrote a story based in an Indigenous community that shows a strong, female heroine.
The second interviewee was Dayna, whose project was on her grandfather and his journey in the RCMP. She was interviewed by Leona. Her research covered the extensive process and training as an RCMP Cadet, as well as techniques they used and animals in the police force. Dana showed us the RCMP uniform during her presentation, including her grandfather’s epaulets!
Our next presentation was from our very own Alumni, Leona and Kevin, as well as graduated Alumnus Lucas! They showed us a video of George Elliott being interviewed last summer in Victoria, and how his father Dr David Elliott Sr. created the SENĆOŦEN alphabet. In doing this he hoped to preserve the rich and vibrant culture of the Saanich peoples.
Leona, Lucas and Kevin also talked about how we need to use reliable resources to learn and educate ourselves about the Indigenous community and their needs and situation. We need to work towards improving Indigenous inclusion and reconciliation – because there are Indigenous voices that aren’t always heard, and it’s all of our individual responsibilities to champion these efforts to have suppressed voices heard. We need to work towards improving Indigenous inclusion and reconciliation.
They also shared with us a fun Kahoot!
Alberni Valley Museum
Next, we got to go inside the Alberni Valley Museum, right from our screens at home! Shelley led us through the museum, and throughout the trip student participants enthusiastically and chimed in with appreciation for how cool the tour was! Alberni Valley Museum was built in 1971, but expanded to 3 times the size in the 1980s. Their mandate is to collect and preserve the human and cultural history of the Alberni Valley. Some examples are their Indigenous basket collection of 300+ pieces, their furniture gallery, machinery, artworks, and so many more exhibits.
If you are curious, the virtual tour can be accessed from their website.
At lunch, we premiered the documentary that both Alumni councils have been working hard on for many many months! The official film will be released on YouTube on Saturday June 4th at 5pm. If you would like, we are inviting you to attend the virtual ‘watch party’ at the same time, which can be joined at this YouTube link.
Our first presenter after the lunch break was Chloe, interviewed by Vedanshi. Her project was on the inventions, work, and lifetime of Alexander Graham Bell. Chloe talked about how his inventions have revolutionized our world of modern-day communication, especially how important it was to stay connected during this COVID-19 pandemic.
She noted that the pandemic would’ve looked a lot different without Bell’s inventions, and it would be far more difficult to maintain contact with friends and family.
Our next presenter, Andreas, shared with us Canada’s role in NATO during the Cold War and the creation & meaning of Article 2. He was also interviewed by Vedanshi.
Andreas talked about how different sources have different perspectives, but both are important because it’s good to see both (and all) points of view on the war. Some tellings may not include all the important parts, he said, but it was important to see all the details in the war, not only parts from the winning side.
Vancouver Japanese Language School
We were in for a treat in the next speakers! Dr Horii and Laura from the Vancouver Japanese Language School gave a fascinating presentation about the Japanese Internment and racism in Canada.
Dr. Horii shared his personal experience with us during his time being in an internment camp, and anecdotes about growing up as a Japanese-Canadian. In this current COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Horii thinks that noticing racism towards Asian-Americans is more crucial than ever. If reconciliation is to happen, then we all must take our steps forward together.
This is very special! ‘Living history’ from a person who has experienced WWII, is way different from a primary source.
The Japanese Hall is now a National Historic Site!
Next up, with his project on Japanese displacement in the Second World War, was Jack, being interviewed by Ashley and Tom from Know History. His project was based on letters home from a Japanese-Canadian teen, Koji (a pseudonym) who’d been displaced to the Prairies, to his friend Joan. As part of his research process, he used archival sources from UBC Archives, including the original letters. Jack pointed out that in internment camps, letters were often censored, so we are lucky to have them to study today!
The next project belonged to Hiba, who was interviewed by Tom and Ashley. Her project was on Barkerville and focused on Billy Barker and the Cariboo Gold Rush. She points out that the starting of BC was in Barkerville, because of the Gold Rush, and that it was fundamental to the founding of British Columbia. It was a flourishing town, with a whopping 8,000 people at its peak!
Gulf of Georgia Cannery
Next up were Tara, Andrea and Johanna from the Gulf of Georgia Cannery! The Cannery is a Parks Canada National Historic Site that opened 126 years ago – before which Indigenous peoples had already been fishing on the land. The workshop was full of interactive activities, including understanding the various machinery. We learned about the Retort, the Iron Butcher and the Vacuum Sealer, which had been developed almost 100 years ago and before, the latest in the 1920-1930’s! They shared with us the importance of people in the canning line as well, not just machines. Did you know that the Iron Butcher can process and clean a salmon per second? Wow!
And last but certainly not least, Ashley and Tom came back for one last presentation! They work for Know History. The company has 50+ full-time historians, hired basically to make Heritage Fair projects for clients. Sounds like a fun job!
They shared interpretive writing tips & tricks, whether to caption historical photos or write short summaries. Try not to use unnecessary, fancy words or overcomplicate things! The readers want to know about what’s happening in the moment.
Before they wrapped up, Tom and Ashley left us with one last task – a writing competition! They showed us a historical photo and asked us to create an interpretive writing for it. Most submissions have been sent in already and we are awaiting results! It’s, in Ashley’s words, a “chance to win some cool KnowHistory swag.” Participated in the fair but still haven’t submitted? There’s still time!
Rachel offered some concluding remarks. Thank you to all the participants, sponsors, and planners, and supporters for making this such a successful Fair! Although we hate to see it end (and we were having such fun, too!) we hope to see you in the future, hopefully in person!
And that, my friends, concludes our Virtual Provincial Heritage Fair of 2020!
It’s a Fair tradition for alumni students to write a blog post detailing each day’s events, and this year’s Virtual Fair is no different! Check out today’s Virtual Fair notes, written by Vedanshi, Junior Council Coordinator, and Abhiyan from our Junior Council.
You can also see all of our students’ presentations on our Virtual Fair page. Did you miss out on Day 1 and you’re feeling the FOMO? Send an email to alumi(at)bcheritagefairs(dot)ca by 9am Sunday to receive the link for Day 2 of programming!
Introductory comments by Rachel Meloche, Alumni Program Manager
Participants from all across BC!
Remarks from Kris Foulds, Chair of the BCHFS Board of Directors
Something cool this year was the Land Acknowledgements from various regions of BC because we are all signing in from different parts of the province. “Empathy, learning agility, and leadership”
Sponsors! Thank you! BC Hydro Power Pioneers, Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC, Know History, and Fraser Valley Farm Machinery Association. BC Hydro Power Pioneers and CCHSBC shared video messages.
Participants and presenters got to know each other in break-out rooms!
Native Land Presentation
Victor and Christine from Native Land are our first presenters! Learning process of education about the land that they live on. “It can be difficult for people to learn about the land they live on having a violent past.” So Victor made this tool to be a way to get that education and be less intimidating. If anyone is interested in making an interactive map, Victor recommends using MapBox.
There are plans to add in pronunciation guides.
A really important part of Native Land is to make the boundaries as accurate as possible, but recognize that it may have errors and inaccuracies. You have to look at oral histories, old historical maps, but a lot of time, the authority or time period to be used may not be clear.
Native Land’s now a non-profit, and have an Indigenous Board of Directors, as are the Executive Director and Staff. Trying to reflect traditions and ways of knowing of First Nations People.
Land acknowledgements are personal to each nation, there isn’t one way – it’s really about understanding each nation.
Christine, the Executive Director of Native Land, and also an Archaeologist! Their platform is still growing as they fill-in gaps. In addition to maps, they also have land acknowledgment, or territory acknowledgment, tools. We need to make sure that these Land Acknowledgements have meaning each time we do them, and not simply something to say – it takes some more reflection and deeper thinking.
What does land mean to you?
Christine shared a personal anecdote: There are many Algonquin People who live off-reserve and understand their heritage, re-learn their traditions, and once again form connections with their land.
We need to make sure we’re inviting people to teach about traditional customs and knowledge, and get a better understanding and appreciation for the land we live on.
These communities are re-learning and re-connecting with their culture.
Why is it hard to relearn language? Only 10 people speak her specific dialogue. These individuals are often very spread apart – their community has been separated from land and family for over 130 years, and in that time, they were forced to give up their culture, language, beliefs, “we were taught that it was a shameful thing to be who we are.”
Participants got to ask the speakers questions, and we learned a lot about the incredible and extensive process that goes into piecing together traditions and heritage.
Abigail was our first interviewee, with a project on Harriet Tubman, interviewed by Leona! Abigail made a really neat diorama, and it showed how enslaved people were rescued and transported secretly by hiding them in wagons under wood and vegetables. Abigail primarily used books to do her research.
Featured a video from the BC Power Pioneers – great facts and learning about how they contributed to the development of BC as we know it today!
Next interview was by Jora, and about Walter Harris and George Klein, interviewed by Lucy! Important because their inventions changed the transportation methods for disabled for veterans – knowing that “mobility problems increase with age.” “According to the World Health Organization, there are 2 billion disabled people in the world,” and these Canadian inventors have invented a means of helping the 75 million individuals that need a wheelchair. Jora was really excited to do his first-ever Heritage Fair project, and learned a lot!
Shared by Logan, about how silver mining in the Kootenays (interior BC) affected BC’s regional development socially, economically, and just in everyday life, interviewed by Keilin! Logan visited museums to look at their collection of artefacts, and also used several books, archival photographs of mines and miners for his research!
It was great to see other students and participants joining into the conversation, and asking questions! This interaction is something students normally get to experience at Fairs across BC in-person, but it is wonderful to have this interaction virtually!
Interview #4: Lyla
Lyla’s project was personal, on her family’s history, also interviewed by Keilin! Lyla talked about how Clinton has a very close-knit community, and everyone’s been helping each other out during COVID. Her grandfather used to write articles for newspapers, and that’s where she was able to get her archival photographs from! Lyla talked about the interview process needing to be modified as a result of COVID-19, and did a lot of phone interviews, and learned a lot of stories from her grandparents that she didn’t know earlier! Lyla felt closer with her grandparents after her project, and what a wonderful way for Lyla to connect with her grandparents, and keep their history alive! Lyla wants to continue doing more Heritage Fair projects!
Stephanie studied pseudo-archaeology, which is about how archaeology can be changed in nefarious ways, for instance, people incorrectly sharing or manipulating archaeology to mean something different, and how archaeology influences pop culture. Material culture is important, but the context within which that artefact is found is more important to go beyond a superficial description. Students took part in a neat activity to try archaeological interpretation by thinking of the room they are in as the archaeological site, and picking an object to study! We even learned about the archaeological perspective of Star Wars – how material culture is interacted with by characters, for instance, Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber and how it’s a sign of lineage.
We got to see the trench virtually through a live-streamed tour by Brianne and Markus! The plane we saw was one of the most successful planes of WWI, however, when introduced in 1951, there were severe engine problems, and it hit the front line in 1918 once again. Markus has done scouting in this type of aircraft to find and hunt down enemy spy balloons. However, despite the engineering coolness of the plane, Markus noted that there is nothing nice to say about the war, since it is all about destruction. Markus told us that normally an officer in the days of the cavalry would have a sword on the left side, and so to this day, aircrafts are boarded from the left – that’s how this old thinking influences modern technology! The rest of the tour was super cool and fun, especially because we’re all mostly staying home, this allowed all participants to explore a new place and its history just from home!
Student Interview #5: Will
Brianne and Markus stayed on the line to interview our next student presenter, Will! Will talked about, amongst other things, people are very familiar with battles where we have had great successes, like Vimy Ridge, but Canadians don’t know about unsuccessful battles, like Beaumont-Hamel (only 3 out of 25 of his interviewees knew about this one). History is not just composed of independent events, everything is connected together “in a big web.” Our interviewer Markus also shared a fact that during one battle the officers put small mirrors on the back of their soldiers’ uniforms so that the sunlight would reflect on their backs, and they’d be able to see when the soldiers made it to the top of the hill, or identify the location of fallen soldiers.
Andrew talked about why he started On This Spot. It actually started off as a travel blog, where he would post then-and-now photos, which is where the idea came about! The project started in Nagasaki, where Andrew overlapped a photo of the aftermath of the destruction after the atomic bomb, with a modern-day photo of the rebuilt city. Realizing when he was at Juno Beach that he wanted to know about the history of the place, Andrew realized that this would be a neat idea for an app, and partnered up with his now co-founders, and they’ve been adding in neat new features ever since! This is “a great way to get people engaged with history- especially young people!” We even got to see the first photograph ever taken- did you know it took a whopping two full days of constant exposure?
End of Day 1- Excited for Day 2 of the Fair tomorrow- programming starts at 9:30 a.m.!
In Summer of 2019 my family and I had made plans to go into Downtown Vancouver and visit the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Gardens. However, we never managed to find the time to last year, and now, due to the ongoing pandemic, we unfortunately won’t be able to for an indefinite period of time. But as we stay at home and follow the federal procedures, my family and I (me especially) like to reflect on the name the gardens bear: Dr. Sun Yat-sen.
Dr. Sun was a remarkable man in many ways. He is still viewed as an influential person even though he died nearly a century ago in 1925. Dr. Sun was born in Guangzhou in 1866. He had voyaged to Hawaiian colleges to get a better medical education in his younger years because he felt that there were better schools overseas. Upon returning, he became frustrated with what he saw as a collapsing China, which in his eyes contrasted with the progress of the USA and Britain. As such, he embarked on a lifelong goal to transform China into a republic, and gained notoriety for his novel philosophies which defined what a quintessential society meant to him, for which he is remembered today.
While this eminent person certainly had a great impact on his country, he also has a strong impact on Canada. As part of his international exploits, he had toured through Canada in the early 20th century to try to raise funds for the numerous revolutionary societies he worked for and educate expatriate Chinese about the possibility of a Chinese democracy. In doing so he had spread his philosophy even to Canada, and helped to impact the thinking of the population and BC. His actions even inspired a relatively unknown son of a Chinese coal importer to immigrate to Canada, who would later become a model civilian and would donate to many charities. His name was David Lam. And Mr. Lam would go on to sponsor the creation of Canada’s first classical Chinese garden, the one mentioned earlier that was named after Dr. Sun Yat-sen himself. In some regards Dr. Sun ushered into Canada a wave of Chinese culture in a place which once suffered from widespread segregation against the Asian community, and helped to make Canada the nation it is today, with its grand multicultural heritage and its diverse ethnic backgrounds.
So when we reflect on Dr. Sun Yat-sen and his unmistakable presence today, it is also interesting to note how he has changed Canada.
Last summer I was lucky enough to be chosen to attend the BC Provincial Heritage Fair in Victoria. It was such an amazing experience and so full of history as we visited significant places around the Victoria area. It inspired me to visit some historical sites when I returned to my home in Kamloops. One such site is the Kamloops Chinese Cemetery. It was interesting to actually visit the site that I had only seen pictures of at our local museum.
The Kamloops Chinese Cemetery is located in the southwestern outskirts of downtown Kamloops. It is on a grassy slope overlooking the Thompson River and Mount Paul as seen below in the photo.
Many Chinese immigrants first came to BC before it was even considered a province. They came in search of gold, in the 1860s, during the Cariboo gold rush. When the gold rush ended, the Chinese found work building the railway. In the 1880s, The Canadian Pacific Railway was created through Kamloops and many Chinese came to live in the area as they worked on the railway. There were over 17,000 Chinese workers who helped to build the Yale-Kamloops line. When the railway was finished many of these Chinese workers chose to settle in Kamloops and in 1890 there were over 400 Chinese residents. This was approximately one third of the Kamloops population. A section of downtown Kamloops was the original site for a Chinatown. In 1897, The Kamloops Sentinel created the first record of the cemetery in an article that they wrote.
It is one of Canada’s oldest and biggest intact Chinese cemeteries. It showed that the temporary Chinese residents decided to become a more permanent part of the community in the 1920s. Many of the immigrants had intended to return back to China in 5-10 years and the cemetery was created as a temporary burial place. They had not been allowed to bury their deceased in the Pioneer Cemetery, so the HBC decided to give them some land south of the town to use as a burial site. Surrounded by a wooden fence, there was an altar and a burner placed near the north section of the cemetery. Many of the graves were not marked until after 1923 when the Chinese Exclusion Act was created and they chose to settle down in Kamloops. At this time, permanent, marked tombstones started to be installed as early as 1927. Many of the marked graves are dated from the years between 1930 into the 1960s.
In 1979 the cemetery was closed. It is all that is left of the Kamloops historic Chinatown. It contains approximately 125 burial plots. Over 50 of these plots were disinterred. More recently, the Kamloops Chinese Cemetery Heritage Society has been trying to restore and rehabilitate the area as a place for community commemoration and worship. It is the only Chinese controlled cemetery in BC. Many come to visit the cemetery today to pay their respects to the people who are buried here.
As we stay at home and learn remotely during these pandemic times, it is important to note how Canadians have understood such uncertain times in our past. It is part of examining our heritage to not only review the actual tales of bygone days, but also how we were able to prevail in the end, or how our nation continued on. Around 100 years ago, Canadians witnessed one of the worst disease pandemics in all of history: the Spanish Flu (which did not come from Spain, in fact its origins are still debated today). It killed millions of people in the years after the First World War, and because of the older technology and undeveloped forms of diagnosis in those days, we couldn’t stop it. It was a silent enemy, and is still around today. Both COVID-19 and the Spanish Flu are viruses, which meant that both could spread easily without the necessary precautions.
So how did we combat the virus in the past, and how has it changed? Notably, we now have better forms of treatment and diagnosis, along with better research techniques. The Canadian medical system now also has a quicker reaction to the virus, thanks to our expanded digital community, along with having made preparation for such events (such as medical stockpiles). However, one of the major things we do, staying at home and quarantining possibly asymptomatic carriers, were also done in the past. So in these uncertain times, when we look back at similar events, it is interesting to learn how much we still retain from the past, and how much we have changed.
Editor’s note: a few school fairs in the Vancouver region were held before the schools shut down, and Tracy was able to be an adjudicator at some of those fairs. Vancouver students are often interviewed by students their own age, and the Vancouver Regional Alumni are incredibly involved in the school and regional fairs. If you’re interested in learning more, you can get in touch with your own regional coordinator and see if there’s a role for you!
by Tracy, Junior Council
As Alumni, I’m sure we can all remember being judged. At school fairs, then, at regionals… and finally presenting to a whole bunch of strangers at Provincials. I’m not sure many of us would like to do that again. I’m not sure I would – with all the judging and note-taking and the JUDGING and not knowing what they thought of you… In the good old days before social distancing happened, I had the very special opportunity to inflict the very same uncertainty upon fellow students. In other words, I got to adjudicate Heritage Fair projects.
First stop was Kerrisdale Elementary with a class of French Immersion, Gifted-and-Talented students.
I would just like to say WOW, these projects are absolutely all amazing and I loved all the ones I got to see, but since I’m only allowed to pick a few to write about…
This one project made my jaw drop and I couldn’t pick it up again for quite a long time. Rebecca, who is so amazing, did her project on the differences between females in Indigenous legends and traditional Grimm fairy tales, and how in the Indigenous tales, the female lead usually uses her own strengths to save the prince, but in fairytales like original Sleeping Beauty, the prince rapes her when she’s asleep then goes back to his wife.
Secondly, there was Noah, whose project was on the Danish Resistance in WW2. He did so much research on this project and you could tell because his presentation was 15 minutes long and left me wanting to know more. We don’t really hear about Denmark when we learn about WW2, and the Canadian parachute troop that marched down to Wismar through Nazi territory and held their ground against the Soviet army.
And then there’s Carson, and his project on the Silver Dart. You could tell right away that he was really passionate about his topic – and for his creative component, he built his own aileron, which is the method airplane engineers used instead of wing warping (which he explained). I still have a hard time not being awed by this.
Quick lunch, and then off to a second school, Tecumseh Elementary.
The first person I interviewed at Tecumseh was Elizabeth, who was even more nervous than I was, if that was even possible! Her project was on racism against Asian immigrants and she brought up issues that existed in the late 1900’s and early 1910’s that I didn’t know existed and how they still existed today.
If Elizabeth is reading this right now, please please please ignore the person who was rude about your project, I found it absolutely brilliant. You should be so proud of yourself.
The next project that really pulled my attention was Eloise’s project on the Cariboo Gold Rush. She had so much energy and you could tell that she loved her topic! Her board explained how it helped found BC as a province, which is not something people bring up often. Eloise also mentioned something about a camel problem after the gold rush – because at one point in history, BC had a foreign camel infestation.
Oh, and of course, how could I forget? Our Junior Alumni Council’s very own Daniel was there, too, with a poster board, a book (he wrote himself!), models, a 3-D map, a slideshow, etc. etc. on the Northwest Passage. Not gonna lie, this blew my mind completely. He covered everything from the history to how it made Canadians feel to how it affected the local Inuit peoples living in the area, and of course, a visual guide to one of the most famous perished explorers – the well-known Sir John Franklin (and his wife, Jane!) and many others.
I could go on about these for hours, probably, but get involved in your local Heritage Fair judging the next time you have a chance in the probably very distant future! My mind was blown and I’d only visited two schools.
When the we (as judges) are adjudicating your project, we don’t really give you scores or grades. We listen, we’re actually interested, and then we pick the projects that have most lasting impressions on us. When we ask you questions, it’s because we want to know more. Don’t be afraid of the judges. We’re all quite nice. Honest.
It might seem different or even weird to be talking to people online instead of in person, but it’s really not that stressful — maybe even less so. Just relax, smile, and tell us about the aspect of Canadian history you’re most passionate about.
by Kevin, Senior Council
With the advent of the internet, finding sources for projects is easier than ever. However, not all websites are created equal. Some are much more reputable than others. The most trustworthy websites are ones that end with .gov, meaning that they are government run, ensuring quality. Others very reliable sites include The Canadian Encyclopedia and databases, such as Wolfram Alpha and Google Scholar. However, some sites similar to Canadian Encyclopedia, while more wide ranging in topics, do not have the same rigorous fact-checking standards. Wikipedia is a prime example. While it and other similar websites can be used to supply dates and names, its analysis and opinions should be taken with a grain of salt.
When dealing with articles or similar material written by one person, it is important to check their credentials. These could include university degrees, time spent studying this particular topic, or endorsements by reliable experts. As well, the article should include a list of sources. These sources tend to be reputable; while you still need to make sure, most sources listed will be able to be used in projects. Finally, a large amount of typos or grammatical mistakes seriously lowers the trustworthiness of the source.
Editor’s note: It is my pleasure to post this letter from Leona, a grade 9 student living in Vancouver. When I opened my email to see this letter, I knew it needed to be posted right away. We are truly living through historic times, and as students of history I’m sure we can all take something from the past that will help us with what we’re living through today. If you need help with your project, please reach out; we are here to help you. And stay tuned for more information about our virtual offerings, coming soon.
For information about BC’s response, please visit the Healthlink BC website. This website has a lot of information, including mental health resources. Please use them if you need someone to talk to, or if you’re struggling at all with the situation we are living through. As Dr. Bonnie Henry reminds us, “be kind, be calm, and be safe.”
By Leona, (Senior Council)
This message is addressed to all students.
Most people alive today have never faced a pandemic before. Like me, you may be confused, afraid, stressed, or bored with all the free time you have during isolation. However, I’ve been at home for about 4 weeks now in isolation. Never before have I felt such a lack of motivation. My digital screen time soars to about 8 hours. Suddenly after a Heritage Fair Alumni call, I had a change of heart. Instead of sitting around and wasting my time, I decided to reflect. I was inspired by the engaged and hardworking students on the call who were brainstorming hard to bring an alternative Heritage Fair experience to your home.
We all study incredible historical figures: Terry Fox, Tommy Douglas, Viola Desmond, and Thanadelthur can all be seen as Canadian heroes. Men and women who impacted Canadian History can have a great influence on the lives we live today, that’s why it’s important to learn about them! All of them are undoubtedly ambitious and hardworking. Thanadelthur was a young woman captured by the Cree in 1713; she was later enslaved. Despite hardships she became a peacemaker, interpreter, and guide for the Hudson’s Bay Company. Similar to Thanadelthur’s perseverance during hard times, Terry Fox, a young man diagnosed with bone cancer, ran across the country with an amputated leg through snow and rain to help raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society. No matter the difficult situation and multitude of conflicts thrown at you, you can always make the best of the situation and keep fighting towards your goal.
Our goal as students is to learn. We want to experience success, and reflect on mistakes in order to mature as young adults. Speaking from experience, Heritage Fair has become a massive part of my life. Could you have thought, by creating a poster board project on 6 Canadian Women it has allowed me to travel to a Provincial Fair in Squamish, visit over 10 museums and historical sites with the Heritage Fair society, speak at the Heritage Hall Foundation, and now hold a position as an alumni representative for this non-profit organization? I’m sure there are many alumni who can give lengthy testimonies on how Heritage Fair has changed lives, and with the support of adults, students across BC have found passions. Bottom line is, I don’t want any student to miss out on that opportunity. Therefore, I invite you to do your own mini history projects at home. Binge watch heritage minutes videos, or do research about a Canadian Hero that may share the same career interests as you. Surely you have time right now to read an article from the Canadian Encyclopedia. Stalk our instagram @bcheritagefairs and read up on all our Museum Mondays and posts, or check our highlights for our Fair Friday series. I want you to continue to learn because knowledge truly is power.
Can you believe we’re living through a time that is going to be an interesting Heritage Fair topic in the future? A lot of us are passionate about helping others, this is a great time to help out your community; spreading smiles with small acts during this gloomy time can really lighten the mood. During this pandemic I have recognized a lot of unity in the world. For once we are not against each other, as a matter of fact we are fighting this disease together. I know what it feels like to be a young person but physical interactions with friends can wait! Video call your family members and friends, or ask your grandparents to tell you stories. We can all definitely make the best of the situation, because we’re living through an incredible part of history. Continue to stay engaged, continue to learn and stay safe.