BC Heritage Fairs Alumni

The Official Heritage Fairs Student Site

“Taking Reconcili-Action” with Heritage Fairs — August 31, 2019

“Taking Reconcili-Action” with Heritage Fairs

by Lucas and Leona

Lucas: Last month, as the 2019 Provincial Fair was just getting under way, a project that had been progressing for months was also coming to fruition.


Back in March, Jennifer Iredale (a board member with the BCHFS) approached me with a project idea: “Taking Reconcili-Action,” she called it. If we interviewed Indigenous elders in the Saanich area and then uploaded those videos on the BCHFS website as inspiration for other students around the province to approach their local Indigenous elders, we could empower young people to create connections in their community and start an open dialogue. Reconciliation is a collaborative process, after all, and we should all play an active role in making our communities more inclusive and recognizing stories of the past. 


I was on board right away, and we were able to set up interviews with STOLȻEȽ (John Elliott), a language teacher and elder of the Tsartlip First Nation; TEMOSEN (Charles Elliott), a master carver; Chris Paul, a Tsartlip artist; and Pena Elliott, a Tsartlip member and student. Before the interviews, Leona, Kevin, and I, all alumni council members, had done extensive research about each interviewee as well as proper protocol and oral history tips. 


On Tuesday, July 2, Jennifer Iredale and I drove out to interview John, Charles, and Chris. Our talks were originally planned to last around half-an-hour each, but by the time we finished our last interview, we had spent more than five hours speaking to them! Our conversations ranged from their work and current projects to more broad topics like the importance of educating youth about Indigenous culture in schools. They were all incredibly thoughtful and provided me with a lot to think about; I certainly left with more questions than answers. 


Leona: A few of the alumni had the privilege of interviewing Pená; a representative for the Saanich peoples. We asked him several questions and documented everything on film. It was enlightening to discover a whole different perspective on controversial topics such as the school curriculum, representation in the modern world, Indigenous reconciliation, and the concept of being truly Canadian. Pená taught us a lot in regards to an Indigenous viewpoint on normal everyday scenarios. Some of his teachings should be applied to huge environmental factors that we face today. One point he made was that the Indigenous peoples only took the number of resources they needed to survive. They never exploited any resources and sought to conserve important necessities like food, for example, salmon.


Pená is a really easy person to talk to, and he answered a lot of our questions, one of which was: what do you think teachers can do to apply Indigenous teachings and incorporate that into the school curriculum? His answer was that he believes all teachers should first be well educated on the correct way and words to refer to Indigenous peoples. In addition to that, teachers should be educated on Indigenous traditions and truths, therefore they can then convey these teachings to their students in a creative manner. In doing this project, BC Heritage Fairs was hoping to bring light to First Peoples and their importance in our society; to give the Saanich people, who aren’t recognized enough,  the opportunity to be heard. BC Heritage Fairs Society believes that this recorded interview can hopefully provide teachers and influential leaders with the inspiration they need to start incorporating the recognition of Indigenous peoples in their everyday lives. We hope that by doing this, we strengthen reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. 


Lucas: A big thank-you is in order to Laura Saretsky, Paul Gravett, and others from Heritage BC, whose extremely generous grant from the 2019 Heritage Legacy Fund made this project possible. Thank you as well to Jennifer, Kevin, Leona, Rachel, Evan, and others whose support has been and continues to be invaluable. Stay tuned for more updates as the finished product develops.

The Royal BC Museum — August 14, 2019

The Royal BC Museum

Today we’re continuing our series sharing memories from this year’s Provincial Fair participants both here and on our Facebook page. Today, we have a post from Tracy about her visit to the Royal BC Museum.

When I was told we were visiting the Royal BC Museum, well, I’ll just say that I couldn’t stop internally squealing all the way there.

The Minions (led by Lorna, consisting of Summer, Russ, Anglin, Daniel, Valerie, and me) started in the Discovering BC exhibit. The eye-catcher was a huge ship with many seagulls – who we named Bobby, Joey, Steve, Banana, and Billy Bob Joe. There was an area talking about the Gold Rush, but we were most interested in the gold panning station – except there were no pans. So, we used our hands so scoop up the gravel, which didn’t work too well.

Gold Nugget from the Discovering BC Exhibit

We moved on to the Our Living Languages exhibit, then to the First People’s Gallery, which is where Anglin and I lost the rest of the Minions. We ran through displays with chaperone Rachel following behind, marveling at gold nuggets, totems, mine shafts, and the taxidermy seagull. We explored the BC’s Natural History exhibit, discovered the fur trade, and learned about the importance of logging. There even was a live tide pool with a fish called Fred, which a staff member explained to us.

Seals Laying on Rocks in the Natural History Exhibit

Once we got out of the natural history exhibit, I practically sprinted into Maya – The Great Jaguar Rises, dodging people and saying quite a few “sorry’s.” At this point in the exhibition, our vocabulary mainly consisted of “Lookit this woooaaahhhhh holyyyy heckkkkkk howwwwwwww” “whaaaaatttt the hecckkkkk, that’s AMAAAAZINGGGG!”  and “Cooooolllll!”

Carving of a Mayan King Standing on top of a Prisoner

The hall was filled with sculptures and slabs of stone carved with kings, queens and gods, ceramic bowls painted with parades of warriors, and even a carving depicting a young prince making his first sacrifice… blood from his penis.

Looking at the many bowls, vases, urns, and more, I asked, “how do the colours stay after, like, thousands of years?”  Then somehow, Rachel ended up taking a video for Twitter – using #askanarcheologist – asking about the Mayan paint-making process. The answers we got involved crushed bugs and different minerals.

Ceramic Bowl Painted with Mayan Warriors

We discovered jade sculptures, obsidian spearpoints, and a birchbark paper that A) somehow lasted with vibrant colours for a few millennia, and B) looked like cardboard before I read the sign.

Mayan Bark Paper

Really, it was over all too soon, and we were forcefully removed from the museum (read: told it was time to go). And I guess this post proves Summer’s calling me a history geek, but the Royal BC Museum really is more than just a museum – it’s an experience that can last a lifetime.