The beginning of the first day of the 2015 Provincial Heritage Fair started off early this morning in central Vancouver, as kids aged 10-15 lugged their bags and luggage into the bus station, where we’d be officially departing from. As delegates and their parents filtered into the station, hauling creative components and extravagant posters, shy whispers filled the air. Would the trip be scary? Hard work? Would people be friendly? Intimidating? Nonetheless, everybody soon began to loosen up and get comfortable around one another, and by the time we boarded the bus, delegates were chatting away about their projects, schools, sports, and everything in between, projects in one hand and newly traded pins in the other. By the time we had ridden the bus to the ferry terminal, basked in the sun on the ferry’s top level, and taken two more buses to finally make it to the University of Victoria campus, everyone was basically family.

Of course, getting to the university was only the first stop of the day. We were quickly given bright blue t-shirts, lanyards, and backpacks, then shepherded to the on-campus First Peoples’ House, an impressive architectural masterpiece of traditional cedar combined with modern metal. We checked out the magnificent ceremony room, beautiful artwork, and impressive carvings, then listened to one of the delegates, Timmy, talk passionately about his family’s work on one of the community totem poles.

Next, once everybody had arrived at the university campus, whether by boat, bus, or plane, we all met up for our first dinner together, a modest feast of pizza, fruit, and orange juice. After an introduction of the important people and faces we’d be seeing all week, like our coordinators, chaperones, and volunteers, we were sent off in groups to learn all about the university campus and all the amenities and classes provided at UVic. After learning that UVic offered everything from quidditch teams, to electives like Medieval Vampires, to tea-drinking clubs, we came together for a History of UVic lecture, courtesy of Dr. John Lutz.

Finally, it was time for the chaperones to meet up to discuss details, so we, the alumni, took all 64 delegates out to the grassy field to run icebreaker games, letting the kids run around and burn off some energy before bed. After a good hour of tag, cat and mouse, and evolution, everyone came back in for a quick snack of cookies, water, and gummies before showering and heading off to bed. Tomorrow would be busy, and everyone needed their beauty sleep in preparation for the coming day of touring!

Author: Emily M.