BC Heritage Fairs Alumni

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A Canadian Connection to 9/11 — July 22, 2017

A Canadian Connection to 9/11

“This is not a 9/11 story. It’s a 9/12 story.” – David Hein, co-songwriter

Ask anyone on the street, and they’ll definitely know what 9/11 was. But see if they know anything about the town of Gander and the surprisingly large role the people in that town had in the immediate aftermath, and you’ll be lucky to find even one person who has heard of this story. However, through the recent Broadway hit Come from Away, hopefully more recognition will be given to the unsung (Canadian) heroes of an event that changed the world forever. Welcome to the Rock!“It was the worst day we have ever seen…” ­– Sen. John Kerry

What Was 9/11?

The attacks of September 11, 2001, or 9/11, was a series of coordinated terrorist attacks by the extremist group al-Qaeda on various locations in the United States. 4 flights were hijacked, and diverted towards major buildings: two planes flew into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center complex in New York City, one crashed into the Pentagon, a major intelligence location for the U.S. government, and the final flight planned to crash into the U.S. Capitol buildings, but the hijackers were overcome by passengers on the plane and crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Nearly 3,000 people died, most of which were innocent businessmen and businesswomen, civilians, and firefighters. Immediately after the attacks, the Federal Aviation Administration announced that all international flights were to be stopped, meaning that they would have to land in another country.


“Crossroads of the world”

Where is Gander?

Gander is a small town in northeastern Newfoundland, home to roughly 10,000 residents. It is home to Gander International Airport, an important refuelling stop for longer transatlantic flights.



“…but it brought out the best in all of us.” – Sen. John Kerry

So, what does Gander have to do with anything?

Since American airspace was effectively closed, international flights bound for America had to land somewhere else.

Enter Gander.

The convenient location of the airspace, combined with the fact that it was already used to large, commercial jets landing to refuel made it the suitable choice for several diverted flights to land. However, this was no pit stop. A total of 42 flights (38 of them civilian), and more than 6,600 passengers and air crew members landed in Gander, combining to be more than 2/3rds of Gander’s population at the time! Passengers had to stay in the area for nearly a week, before being allowed to continue to their destination. Residents of Gander showed their extreme generosity, volunteering to house and feed the passengers and crew. More can be seen in the two videos below:



“Emotionally transcendent” – Jay Irwin

How did this story become a musical?

A Torontonian lawyer and theatre producer was inspired after learning about the story of Gander, and approached various people to try to turn it into a piece for theatre. After several rejections, the songwriter couple of Irene Sankoff and David Hein agreed to become a part of the team. On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the two interviewed several residents of what occurred through their eyes, and several characters in the musical are real locals of Gander. In an interview with the two, here’s what they had to say about their experience:

What went into telling that story? You went to Gander, right? DH: Yes. We started researching it several years ago and found out there was going to be a commemoration ceremony happening, that all these people were going to be travelling back to Gander to reunite on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. So we applied for a Canada Council grant, went out there and ended up staying for quite a while. The people of Gander wouldn’t let us stay in hotels—they’d say, “Don’t be spendin’ money, stay with us, here are the keys, just remember to feed the cat.”

Were you thinking “musical” at the time? DH: We had originally been thinking of doing it as a documentary play like The Laramie Project[which is about the murder of a gay university student in Wyoming]. But then they had a benefit concert at the hockey arena, with this Newfoundland band, and everybody got up on the floor and started dancing. That’s when Irene realized it should be a musical. We weren’t trying to make a Broadway show, though. We were trying to be true to the story. What we really wanted was for the people we’d interviewed, when they sat in the audience, to be proud of what they were seeing and to say that we got it right.

(Source: http://torontolife.com/culture/stage/qa-irene-sankoff-david-hein-creators-toronto-born-broadway-hit-come-away/)

After they wrote a shorter version of Come from Away, the project was met with great success, and Sankoff and Hein wrote a full production, and the rest is history – so much so, that on March 15, 2017, on Broadway…


Justin Trudeau attended a show? And Ivanka Trump?

Yup. They did. And he loved it. The Broadway show was immensely popular, and is still playing to standing-room-only audiences. The show was nominated for seven Tony awards, winning Best Direction of a Musical, and also won several Drama Desk Awards among a boat-load (or, shall we say, plane-load) of awards.

OK, I’m sold. Can I listen to it now?

Sure, but don’t blame me if you get hooked on it!



Author: Lucas








Bill Reid — July 15, 2017

Bill Reid


Bill Reid carving Skidegate Pole 1976. Photo: Martine Reid.

Born on January 12, 1920 in Victoria, BC, Bill Reid was a renowned Haida artist. With Haida and German/Scottish roots, he started out studying classic European jewelry making at Ryerson Institute of Technology in Toronto. When his father, William Ronald Reid, Sr. died, he went with his mother, Sophie Gladstone Reid, to the Haida village where she was born. There he met his grandfather, Charles Gladstone, a Haida artist. Gladstone was making gold carved bracelets with tools that he inherited from Charles Edenshaw (Gladstone’s uncle) who is also a well-known Haida artist. Bill Reid said that moment “changed the way he saw the world.”


Wolf pendant, 1976

Bill had Haida art in his blood. Charles Gladstone then became Bill’s art and culture mentor. After that, Bill Reid dedicated himself to becoming a master carver, and to reclaim his Haida heritage. Perfecting the craft of Haida imagery and learning the stories and traditions of the Haida people, Bill Reid began to redefine the fine art gallery walls around the world.


Raven brooch, 1962


Much like Bill Reid’s own personal journey to rediscover his heritage and place importance on his Haida culture, language and art, the fine art world soon sought out the masterfully crafted sculptures and beautiful paintings that he created. From Paris to New York, Bill Reid was commissioned to create and represent Haida art. Bill Reid’s dream to bring his culturally significant art from Haida Gwaii into mainstream art became reality.


The Spirit of Haida Gwaii, The Jade Canoe at Vancouver International Airport

With his professional experience as a CBC reporter, he was instrumental in the re-envisioning of First Nations artistic products. Bringing trinkets from the basements of dusty museums to the fine art galleries of the world, Bill Reid redefined the art world to include art from Canada’s First Nations history.


The Raven and the First Men, Museum of Anthropology, UBC

To this day, Bill Reid’s Jade Canoe greets every international traveller arriving to the Vancouver International Airport. He has imprinted Haida culture and art into the minds of people around the world as well as the walls of fine art galleries. In this way, we can see the impact he had on redefining and contributing Haida art to the world. His impact is far reaching. From the Canadian 20 dollar bill and fine jewelry to paintings and sculptures, Bill Reid’s Haida art can be seen all over the world.




Friendship at the Fair — July 11, 2017

Friendship at the Fair

Friendship is support, friendship is bond that can’t be forced, and it can be made in just seconds and can last a life time. Today is our last day of the 2017 BC provincial heritage fair and on the ride over to the ferry I had a moment that made me simply smile. All the students on the bus were singing and it made me think about how in just matter of a couple short days delegates from all over the province where make new memories and creating bonds that could last a life time.

Friendship could mean different things to different people. It’s all about perspective, some people look for people to motivate them and others look for people to share stories with.  Veronica says “friendship to me is about being necessary to someone’s life and having someone to share ideas with.”  Lucas says “friendship is about inspiring each other.” I think that by having positive people around you, you will become more inspired and you can grow as an individual.

At heritage fair students are put in to a different environment and are mixed with people from all across the Province, they meet new people and are exposed to an array of different cultures and interests. I believe that when students are put in situation like these they develop better social skills. And when students meet new people with different experiences they learn how to respect others’ opinions and this allows students for become more open minded. When they develop these skills, it means that less problems will be created and more compromised will be made. This quality that heritage fair has, about bring delegates together, is so unique and is one of the key factors the sets us apart.

Everybody needs some sort of support system, and having a friend circle that you can share your thoughts with and that can respect your personality will be great individuals to be around. I had this thought as I was sitting in the bus with all of our delegates and I could hear so many different conversations. Some more serious and talked and past life experiences, and others we fun things that people wanted to try. This might not mean much to some people, but is goes to show how close these students became in less the 48 hours. Now we come together not just citizens form our regions, but as citizens of British Columbia and friends.


Author: Anisha

The 5th and Final Day of the BC Provincial Heritage Fair —

The 5th and Final Day of the BC Provincial Heritage Fair

Today was the last day of this year’s Provincial Heritage Fair; the day to say goodbye and travel home for most participants. After a wrap-up breakfast and chance to choose all their favourite foods, the delegates going home by plane departed at around 8:30 am, while the rest who were either going to catch the ferry, or get picked up by their parents, stayed and played a little longer. Final activities included cleaning up, reliving memories and a lively game of camouflage.

This year’s fair was, for the most part, a fun filled, hot, and sunny week, so it was quite poetic that the clouds started to roll in shortly after things wrapped up; as if they were curtains closing on the ‘final act’ of the 2017 BC Provincial Heritage Fair.

group shot.jpg

A heartful thank you was felt by all participants to the organizers, sponsors, volunteers, and dignitaries who made this such an amazing event.

Author: Benjamin

Interacting with People Around Me — July 9, 2017

Interacting with People Around Me

Today was presentation day for all of this year’s delegates. So for this post, we are going to talk about what is important to remember when you are around people that you respect and may be a little afraid of.

When you are at a young age, you treat every person pretty much the same. You are mad at people when your mad, and happy with people when your happy.

As people get older, they tend to make pictures of other people in their mind, especially people in authority. This picture greatly changes how we act towards, or treat those people. Now sometimes this can be a good thing, but some people can get a bit carried away with the picture they paint of other people, and this can really effect how those people are treated. Also, another affect of painted grand pictures of people is being very awkward in front of them. This can be embarrassing and may leave you with a bad memory around that person.

So to some things up, it is important to act properly in whatever situation you are in and to never make false assumptions around people, but also remember that no one is perfect, and making mistake is alright. When you are talking to someone important or someone you respect, you must remember that most of the time they are on your side and want to see you do your best.

That’s all for now!

Delegate Lucas Hung speaking with Her Honnour Ms. Guichon

Author: Ben


Day 3: BC Legislature, Royal BC Museum, Government House, Ross Bay Cemetery — July 8, 2017

Day 3: BC Legislature, Royal BC Museum, Government House, Ross Bay Cemetery

We started the day with a quick stop at Mt. Tolmie, one of the highest points in Victoria, which featured a view of the city. From there, we went to the Legislative Assembly, a grand and imposing building.


Our tour guide, Giorgia, started off by acknowledging we were on traditional First Nations territory. She went on to tell us about the history of the Legislative. Next, we saw the chamber. Outside, there were plaques with the names of MLAs on it. Our tour guide recruited our help to find when Mary Ellen Smith, the first female MLA, had a seat using these plaques. As the delegates searched, someone behind us spoke, giving clues to where the name was. We turned, and behold, there was Mary Ellen! She transported us back in time, showing us how the movement for female rights happened.

After, we went to the museum which was amazing, and huge. The museum featured three exhibits, about Terry Fox, family bonds, and natural history.


For lunch, we visited the Government House, home of the Lieutenant Governor. Most of the delegates enjoyed an exciting game of Mafia, and a few of us went to the gardens, which were absolutely beautiful.

After, we walked to the cemetery which had three activities: storytelling, restoration, and recording.

During the storytelling activity, we were able to walk around the cemetery and hear stories about some of the people there. We visited the grave of Emily Carr, one of the most visited graves. Other notable graves include James Douglas, Barker, and Peter Leech. An item of interest to me personally was part of the inscription on Barker’s headstone, the rock of which apparently came from the place he found gold, that said “He died poor in wealth but forever rich in friends.”

Another activity was restoration, as mentioned before. Armed with rakes and brushes, we tried to “make a difference in the cemetery.” After about fifteen minutes of scrubbing, the headstones were rinsed with a hose, and wow, even a quarter of an hour made a huge difference.


Finally, we worked in pairs to record information about a gravestone. This was so that if one was damaged, it could be re-created with the information written. We took notes on the font, inscriptions, measurements, and even drew the stones from different angles.

We then walked down to the beach, where we had delicious hot dogs. We played on the beach, some swimming, others walking around on the logs.

Finally, to end off the day, we went swimming, which was refreshing and a lot of fun.

To conclude, today was not as jam-packed as yesterday, and the pool and beach provided a nice place to relax, but I trust the delegates had just as much fun and were able to experience Victoria in new ways.

Author: Veronica

Ross Bay Cemetery —

Ross Bay Cemetery

Perhaps the attraction I was most excited for on the third day of the Provincial Fair, the Ross Bay Cemetery, was just a short walk away from Government House in Victoria. Many students were apprehensive to participate in the tour around the graves, and I suddenly remembered when I visited the cemetery during my Provincial Fair back in 2013. Back then, I was pretty scared of all the dead bodies lying just a short drop below me, and it didn’t help that I had heard of the numerous ghost stories of the deceased. In speaking to some delegates (grade 5) before we started to learn about the cemetery, they agreed with me! However, I knew that something would change their opinion, just like it had for me: cleaning the gravestones.

As the various scrapers, brooms, and hoses were handed out, students set to work on clearing off lichen and moss from various gravestones. And, just like I had found four summers ago, it was actually pretty fun. Smiles slowly crept across their sweat-beaded faces, and seldom did someone take a rest break. The only thing that mattered was getting off as much dirt as possible, and as quickly as we could, and the sound of “scrape, scrape, scrape” filled the cemetery. Slowly but surely, graves were cleaned off. We could make out the letters previously covered by years of mistreatment; tiles that had become grey were suddenly marble-white.

How did the cleaning and restoring of the graves feel, exactly? Well, it’s best to hear it in the words of some delegates:

Ben (Victoria): “It was very rewarding to see the gravestones go from a darkish-grey to a very bright white (with a little bit of scrubbing!).”

Faaij (Richmond): “It was hard work, and there weren’t instant results. But it was actually fun, and satisfying.”

Cooper (Rivers to Sea): “It was definitely more fun than I thought, and I was able to contribute to the community!”

As for me, I felt an innate connection with the cemetery, and it really felt good to be able to contribute to the community.

I’d like to finish off with a little call to action: get a group of friends, along with some scrapers and brooms, and head to your local cemetery to help clean some graves (after making sure you’re allowed, of course!). Trust me – it’ll feel good. After all,  that’s what I told the delegates before they started cleaning!

Author: Lucas

Celebrating Canada 150: Alumni Style — July 7, 2017

Celebrating Canada 150: Alumni Style

Today we had an incredibly busy and fun day, which ended off on a great note. Our amazing alumni created a special activity for all of the kids. This year, we celebrated Canada’s 150th birthday, so the alumni wanted to recognize this in a special way.

The activity started out with the kids being sent back in time, all the way back to Confederation in 1867. In order to return to 2017, the kids had to go through some of Canada’s most important moments to make Canada what it is today. Obviously, there are a lot of incredibly important moments (both good and bad), but we only had six alumni, so we chose a few of these events.

At each of the six stations, the groups were presented with different challenges depending on the event. If they managed to complete the event, they would earn a puzzle piece, and the goal was to get all six puzzle pieces. Each group had a different puzzle that represented a special moment in history that we had not covered in the stations.

Confederation was covered by our alumni Lucas. He wore an artisan top hat, made by himself. He educated the kids about Confederation, then gave them a map of Canada from what it looked like in 1867. They then had to label the map. “It was fun,” -Lucas.

Next, was CPR by our alumni Veronica. She asked them to guess eight of the most important CPR stations, and the kids had lots of fun! It’s different than you would think!

Our alumni Anisha covered Komagata Maru and she gave them an example of a letter a  passenger might send home to their family. The kids had to fill in the blanks on the worksheet, and we had a few kids who were experts on the subject and filled in the sheet incredibly fast.

Julia was dressed up very fancy as a young lady from the 1910’s. She was talking to kids about women’s right to vote and gave them a few trivia questions before starting the activity. When asked to name a member of the Famous Five, the most common answer was (unsurprisingly) Nellie McClung, followed by Emily Murphy (Julia also had a few people guess Emily Carr, which was close…). She gave the students pictures of the Famous Five and pieces of paper with their names and asked them to match the names to the faces.

Ben covered the battle of Vimy Ridge and had a book which described all of the events that took place. He had a message in Morse Code and gave the kids a key so they could figure out what the message meant.

As we had six groups and only five official alumni, our lovely leader Britney stepped in to lead an activity of her own. As “The Spirit of Canada” from the future (Britney was from Canada’s 300th birthday), she encouraged a discussion amongst the kids about Canada, its history, and why it was important to learn all of these things.

Each group ended up earning all their puzzle pieces, and had enough time to put their puzzles together. They then had to send up one student to explain to everyone what their puzzle represented, and everyone got it right. Some examples were Residential schools, the Underground Railroad, our first gold medal in the Vancouver 2010 Olympics (Alexandre Bilodeau in moguls), D-Day, Chris Hadfield, and the Quebec referendum.

Everyone had lots of fun and all the kids headed off to bed exhausted. What a great day, and very excited for all the special activities tomorrow!

Author: Julia

DAY 2: Park, Fort and Chinatown —

DAY 2: Park, Fort and Chinatown

Eager smiles and infectious energy greeted me as I stepped out of my room early this morning to begin the second day of the 2017 Provincial Heritage Fair journey. The bubbly delegates, some of which had been awake since 6 (6!) AM, rushed out towards the cafeteria to eat their breakfast. After chowing down some hashbrowns, sausages, bacon and other tasty goods, we boarded the bus and drove to our first stop of the day: Goldstream Provincial Park.

With the sun shining down our backs, we split up into groups and toured around the park. Various topics of discussions with our tour guides included types of salmon, the importance of fish on the park’s wildlife, and various trees and plantation. A special fact that I especially liked was that salmonberries received their names from bearing fruit at the same time as salmon came home in the autumn. We toured around the Goldstream Nature House, as some students shopped for souvenirs and others read the exhibits around the house.

Lucas 1.jpg

After a short break, we resumed our torrid race around Victoria, and stopped at Fort Rodd, a National Historic Site. We toured around the Upper Battery, where various guns greeted us. One 6,000 pound machine was especially loved by the delegates, and they watched in delight as our guide showed us how to load the gun. We also toured the Lower Battery, where we got to examine artifacts such as gas masks and bullet casings. Finally, we walked around the Garry Oak ecosystem, where various endangered native plants were protected amongst each other.

A small portion of the group then took a short walk down to the Fisgard Lighthouse, which was also a National Historic Site. Students posed for photos in front of the towering lighthouse, and visited various educational information sites inside. The wind whipped up around us as we headed back on the narrow gravel path to the parking lot, where we were picked up by the school bus.

Lucas 2.jpg

Our final main attraction of our hectic day was at Victoria’s Chinatown, where we met our wonderful tour guides led by John Adams. The tour was both informative yet engaging, and we all stood in amazement as he answered all of our questions with astonishing depth. He taught us about important figures of Chinatown, such as Lee Mong Kao, and Sun Yat-Sen. John took us to small alleyways, and murals, as well as the Victoria Harbour and where old buildings such as the Hudson’s Bay Company Warehouse used to exist. We all left the tour having learned so much more about Chinatown, and the history of the area as well. Personally speaking, I had taken a tour of Chinatown before, but didn’t know that so many important events had occurred there, until John’s tour.

Oh – and he also taught us how to play Fan Tan (a Traditional Chinese gambling game)!

Lucas 3.jpg

Famished from such a long day with lots of walking, we were ready to feast at the Golden City Restaurant. Many delegates taught each other how to use chopsticks, and played several icebreaker games with each other. As each dish arrived, students were excited to try new foods, and often found themselves enjoying the new cuisine! After the meal, we said a big thank-you to Mary Campone, who coordinated the fair.

We returned to our residences, ready for our final activity of the night: the alumni activity (Julia is blogging about it, and you can find it on our website)! Groups of students rotated throughout several stations, learning about important events in Canada’s history. At the end of the activity, the groups arranged a large mosaic, with pictures of other events. The final product could be a metaphor of our fair: different people coming from different places, uniting together as one to represent who we are.

All in all, it was an incredibly busy, yet rewarding day. As students continue to bond with one another and learn about Victoria, BC, and Canada’s history in the next 72 hours, they can only grow as learners, historians, and, most importantly, friends.


Author: Lucas

Day 1: Arrival at UVIC — July 6, 2017

Day 1: Arrival at UVIC

After various flights or ferry trips, the students all met in front of the Arthur Currie building at the University of Victoria. The kids coming from the airport had plenty of time to settle in; they received their new backpacks and shirts and had enough time to explore their rooms and unpack all their things. The other kids arrived just in time to drop off their projects and their luggage in front of the building, and we were off!!!

Our first stop was at the First People’s House, where we received a tour from Mr. Hartman who worked at the House. The House was a stunning sight. We learned about the history behind the House, the totem poles, as well as some of the art inside the building. We also got to sit in the Conference Room, where they had more art, as well as a podium. There was also a heater to heat up the drums, and the Conference Room had been used for weddings as well as conferences. It is also a place for the Aboriginal students to relax (they have a few classrooms, as well as a computer lab for the students as well). They host movie nights and other fun activities for those students. As well, there is a totem pole outside that is there for the students to carve. When the Elders are there, the students can come in to work on the totem pole, though it’s been in progress for a while. We then got to see the duck pond, which filled with rain water that drizzled off the roof. They even have a statue of a whale’s tail going into the pond.


After the First People’s House, we went into the university to one of the classrooms where Dr. John Lutz talked to us about the history department at UVic. He told us about all of the different courses that were offered as well as different careers you could go into with a History Major. It encouraged students to consider history on a more serious note, as many of the most successful people have History Majors. He also showed us a project that he was working on; Unsolved Canadian Mysteries. There’s a whole website on it for everyone to come to their own conclusions. The kids were very enthusiastic and had lots of questions to ask. We might see some future UVic kids…

We then got to have a nice pizza dinner and met lots of new friends! After, the kids got to go on a tour of the UVic campus (led by UVic students), while the alumni planned out their activities.

When everyone returned from their tour, the chaperones got to relax while Britney and the alumni took all the students to play lots of fun games!


After a few rounds of Octopus, Handshake Murderer, tag, puzzle games, and many others, everyone was fairly worn out.

Everyone met with their chaperones to go over the plan for tomorrow and then it was off to bed. Tomorrow will be a busy day, so hopefully everyone will get lots of rest! Looking forward to all the fun activities to come…


Author: Julia