BC Heritage Fairs Alumni

The Official Heritage Fairs Student Site

A Year in Review — August 26, 2016

A Year in Review

The 2015-2016 Alumni Council just had their last official conference call. Over the past year, the thirteen of us worked together to achieve the goals we had set. Our theme was polishing the current social media accounts, and building upon, and improving the online presence of the BCHFS.
Each month, we attended conference calls where we discussed reflected upon the successes, and disappointments from previous initiatives. The Alumni created, and implemented new strategies, which were founded with the lessons learned from past experiences. Sometimes, we would complete assignments, such as blog entries, or social media posts, individually. Other times, we’d work on creating accessible resources for students, parents, and teachers in groups of two to three people.In my group of three Alumni, we have made a program for Regional Heritage Fair graduates, and it will be inaugurated next Heritage Fair season. I won’t give away too many details, but stay tuned into our blog to find out about it- announcements are soon to follow!
At the BC Provincial Heritage Fair, the highlight event of the year, the Alumni representatives documented each day’s events with blog posts, social media updates, and media such as photographs and videos. (Story time!) I remember this one time at the fair when a student came up to me to tell me that she had found my video on Interview Tips really helpful. It was great to know that the resources the Alumni had created were helping people! It feels really good when you see your hard work pay off- I can guarantee that all the Alumni feel this way after the successes of the past year.
Special announcement: If you are a student who has been to a BC Provincial Heritage Fair, and would like to take on a leadership role in the society, applications for the 2016-2017 Alumni Council come out soon! Make sure you stay connected with us via social media, so that you can be the first to know about such opportunities.
BCHFS is on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Make sure you subscribe to our blog– we post weekly entries by the Alumni, and there are tools, and resources for everyone!

Author: Vedanshi

A Timeline of the Canadian Fight for Equal Rights — August 19, 2016

A Timeline of the Canadian Fight for Equal Rights

This July, Vancouver hosted its 38th Pride Parade, an annual event where a number of diverse communities come together to celebrate the years of hardship and turmoil endured by our LGBTQ2+ ancestors. While the fight for equal rights is by no means over, there have been many events throughout Canada’s history that have helped make great progress towards the success of this movement. Although these events might only seem significant to a certain demographic, the results truly affected all Canadians, regardless of sexuality or beliefs, and I think it’s important for adults and children alike to understand Canada’s queer history. While the education system puts much emphasis on learning about Canada’s diverse culture and the many people who faced adversity while building our country, next to nothing is taught regarding our rich LGBTQ2+ history. I believe that in order to keep from falling back into old ways, it is imperative that we all, whether queer or straight, have an understanding and appreciation for the struggles faced by our ancestors.

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In the 19th century, Canadian law stated that “”Every person guilty of the abominable crime of Buggery, committed either with mankind or with any animal, shall suffer death as a felon.” This continued until 1892, when the death penalty was removed and a new, broader law was created that condemned all homosexual activity. By the mid-1900s, this law had again been reformed to label gay males as sex offenders, or even worse, “criminal sexual psychopaths”, and called for a lifetime prison sentence.

In the 1950s, the infamous “fruit machine” was used to purge hundreds of alleged gay men from their jobs. The machine’s intent was to identify homosexuals by subjecting viewers to male and female pornographic images then measuring pupil dilation, which was believed to be a measure of “erotic response”. Unsurprisingly, this method was questionable and clearly flawed in many ways, and fell out of favour after a decade. Allegations made towards Northwest Territories resident Everett George Klippert also arose to the public’s eye during this time. Klippert was questioned under accusations of committing arson, but after rigorous questioning he was instead arrested for another reason: admitting to intercourse with a number of men, and a refusal to change ways. Klippert was charged with four counts of “gross indecency”, labeled a ‘dangerous sex offender’, sentenced to a life in prison, and became the last Canadian to be incarcerated for homosexual activity.

In 1969, the omnibus bill, C-150, was passed, and homosexual activity was decriminalized. Said Pierre Trudeau (who would soon become Prime Minister), “There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.” Not long after, Klippert was released from custody. The 1970s saw the emergence of the gay liberation movement, in which communities across the globe began to stand up for gay rights through the organization of rallies, protests, and pride events. Canada’s first programming and media oriented towards the gay community appeared, Quebec became the first jurisdiction in the entire world to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, and Canada’s laws were amended to permit homosexual immigrant men into the country.

In the 1980s, New Democratic Party Member of Parliament Svend Robinson tried repeatedly to pass inclusivity bills that would for example, include “partner of the same sex” in the definition of “spouse”. He was defeated each time, but later became Canada’s first “out” Member of Parliament. What is dubbed “Canada’s version of Stonewall” took place in 1981, after over 300 men were arrested in an gay bathhouse. Thousands took to the streets to protest the arrests, and this spawned Toronto’s first Lesbian and Gay Pride Day. The ‘80s also brought the HIV/AIDS epidemic, in which hundreds of gay men fell ill due to an incurable sexually transmitted disease. This did nothing to help the public’s outlook on gay men, which was already heavily influenced by stigmas and stereotypes. Homosexual males were, and still are, prohibited from donating blood with the Red Cross.

The 1990s marked another great milestone for Canada’s queer community: Kim Campbell, then-Justice Minister, announced that homosexuals would be permitted to join the Canadian Armed Forces. In addition, same-sex adoption became legal in a number of provinces. 1996 saw the addition of “sexual orientation” to the Canadian Human Rights Act, a fight finally won after years of defeated bills.

In 2000, the definition of “common-law relationship” was extended to include same-sex couples, meaning that gay couples would receive the same tax, pension, and income benefits as opposite-sex couples. Ontario’s first same-sex couple was married in the Metropolitan Community Church, although the government refused to legally recognize the marriage. This soon changes in 2002, when Canada recognizes same-sex marriage and the Ontario Supreme Court declares the prohibition of same-sex marriage unconstitutional. However, this same year, Alberta passes a bill to ban same-sex marriage.

It was another three years before the right for same-sex couples to get married is officially recognized in Canada. On July 20th, 2005, Canada became the fourth country to do so. Since then, much has been done to continue reversing the stigmas and discrimination still aimed at the LGBTQ2+ community. Many people in the transgender community are still fighting for the right to legally identify as their true gender, and discrimination is by no means abolished in the workplace or in the everyday lives of queer people. As we move on, we must continue to remember why we are fighting for these rights, and we cannot forget the many who sacrificed their livelihoods to give us the privileges we have today.


Author: Emily

History on the GO — August 15, 2016

History on the GO

History is everywhere. Behind every building, every mural, every memorial, there is a story.

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Old Electric Trolley, photo by author

The new game Pokemon Go can help to uncover and  highlight some of Vancouver’s histories. While players walk through the city trying to catch pokemon, they gather pokeballs which can be collected from pokestops. Pokestops are usually placed on historical landmarks and ‘lures’ are placed on pokestops to attract pokemon. Players called ‘pokemon trainers’ have been rushing to pokestops all around Vancouver including great historical landmarks in the hopes to ‘catch them all!’

With the game’s increasing popularity, more people have been noticing these historical landmarks. Play the game and you can find some interesting stories everywhere in Vancouver. Here are some examples of historically significant pokestops.

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Joe Fortes Fountain, photo by author

The Joe Fortes memorial fountain overlooking English Bay (built in 1927 from funds raised mainly by children) commemorates Vancouver’s first official lifeguard. Joe Fortes spent all his free time protecting swimmers along English Bay and teaching children how to swim. He saved many people from drowning. An important Vancouverite, Joe Fortes made a positive impact on our city. In 1986 Joseph Seraphim Fortes was named Vancouver’s Citizen of the Century.

The Beatty Street mural (located on Beatty Street near historical Hogan’s Alley and across from the British Columbia Regiment Drill Hall) features local landmarks and prominent people of Vancouver, such as Joe Fortes, Jimi Hendrix, Rosemary Brown, Bill Reid, Joe Capilano, David Suzuki and many more.

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Beatty Street mural, photo by author

Some other historical landmarks that are also pokestops:  CPR Tunnel Plaque, Harry Jerome Statue, First City Hospital Heritage Plaque, the Great Vancouver Fire Plaque, and Woodwards building.

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Jimi Hendrix museum, photo by author

Pokestops also may help historical museums and small businesses. It has been reported that museums and other businesses put lures at their locations/pokestop to attract pokemon. After a few minutes, trainers would stream in to buy tickets and enter the museum, catching pokemon while learning about history. The Jimi Hendrix museum in Vancouver must have experienced similar increase in foot traffic because they were also a pokestop.

Not only can Pokemon Go help people discover histories in murals, museums and memorials, it can also highlight the more obscure local histories like the Gyrochute. If you want to learn more about the story behind the Gyrochute, you can visit this pokestop at Kitsilano Beach.

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Local History, photo by author

Pokestops are an opportunity to learn about Vancouver’s history. This is a great way to explore and learn about history because history is everywhere! So go out, catch some pokemon and learn about your city’s rich history.

Author: Abrielle

Canada’s Dinosaurs — August 5, 2016

Canada’s Dinosaurs

Let’s take a trip back in time.  And I mean way, way back.  So far back that there remained no trace of human existence yet.  Back to a time almost 250 million years ago, when giant reptiles ruled the Earth.  Back to the age of the dinosaurs.

So, where would one go to uncover the dawn of the dinosaurs?  I took a trip next-door to Alberta to explore the Dinosaur Capital of the World – Drumheller.  Millions of years ago, the area we know of today as Drumheller was once a very tropical expanse, an ideal environment for the plant and dinosaur populations to expand.

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Image Source: National Geographic, 2012

The dinosaurs persisted to rule the Earth for another 135 million years, before entering extinction about 65 million years ago.  While scientists today are still not entirely sure about what caused some of the largest land animals of all time to be wiped from the face of our Earth forever, they can agree that the mass extinction was most likely caused by a chain reaction of events such as asteroid impacts, volcano eruptions, the release of toxic chemicals and climate change, amongst several others.

The following ice age formed what became the Red Deer River Valley, left behind as the enormous glaciers slowly moved and melted.  The landscape that has remained as a result is absolutely striking given the rocky layers and structures.  Today, this area is referred to as the “badlands”.  However, only 11 thousand years ago did new plants and animals being to once again emerge and flourish.

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Image Source: Hammer Head Tours, 2016

Now, fast-forward a number of years into the 1880’s, when a man known as Joseph Burr Tyrrell came to the Red Deer River Valley in search of coal.  Little did he know of what he would find.  Instead, J.B. Tyrrell’s search for coal in the Red Deer River Valley lead him to the discovery of a dinosaur skull, which subsequently arose the field of study we know today as Palaeontology.  The dinosaur J.B. Tyrrell uncovered himself further came to be known as the Albertasaurus.

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Image Source: Chris Christensen

In 1910 Colonel Samuel Drumheller bought the land of the Red River Valley, and developed coal mining operations, a railway station, and founded a town in the area, renaming the area after himself as “Drumheller” which remains the name to this day.  Further, in 1980 it was announced that Drumheller was to be the home of a new research facility regarding palaeontology.  In 1985, named in honour of J.B. Tyrrell himself, the Royal Tyrell Museum was officially opened.

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Image Source: Trip Advisor

Today, Drumheller remains a popular tourist destination, as it remains to be Canada’s only museums exclusively dedicated to the science of palaeontology, and overall houses one of the world’s largest displays of dinosaurs.  Today, their mandate is to be an internationally recognized public and scientific museum dedicated to the collection, preservation, presentation and interpretation of paleontological history, while providing special references to Alberta’s own rich fossil heritage.


Author: Gita