By Arwen (Senior Council)
Do you want a fun interesting way to get information for your Heritage Fair project? Do an interview!
Figuring out where you can find people to interview for your project is not that hard depending on what, where, and when your project is in history. You might want to interview an expert on a subject, a person in a related field, or you might even find a person who experienced the event personally and is able to share with you and teach you about their personal experiences. I’ve heard of interviews with grandparents, Hydro plant managers, authors, and RCMP dog handlers. There are many great interviews just waiting to happen!
One of the most challenging things about interviewing people for Heritage Fair projects is figuring out ways to get in contact with them, especially if you don’t know them beforehand and they don’t live in your community. If you look online, you can often find that people can be contacted through Facebook, Skype, email, Instagram, and other social media platforms. You may need to dig a little. For example, for one of my projects, I read a book about the event I was researching, Canada House orphanage during the Fall of Phnom Penh. I really wanted to contact the author, so my mom and I googled her. When we found the news stories about the book release, they included her Facebook profile. We messaged her using Facebook Messenger to arrange an interview, and she invited us for an interview and lunch. It was an amazing experience!
You don’t always have to travel to your interviewee for the interview because sometimes that is not an option, either because of distance or your schedule, but you can use things like Facetime, Skype, or the telephone. Really, any platform that allows you to be able to talk to them so you can ask questions and get information for your project is a good way to interview them. For one of my Heritage Fair projects, I wanted to interview the mayor of Dawson City, Yukon Territory. I couldn’t go to Dawson City to meet with him (I live on Vancouver Island) so we Facetimed and it worked great!
When interviewing people you want to be able to have very clear questions like who, what, where, why, when, and how, but not always questions that are easy to discover using other research. Those questions are good to ask because then you can get information on lots of different aspects of your project. It’s also a good idea to prepare questions before meeting with your interviewee and do your research. For example, when doing a Heritage Fair project about heritage homes, I researched online and in the archives, however I also interviewed one of my family friends whose job was moving old houses and asked questions about different hazards that could be in old homes, like asbestos and lead. I didn’t know a lot about what went into making houses in the past and his information and input really helped me understand my project better.
I would definitely recommend interviewing people for projects because it helps understand your project from a different point of view and gives new perspectives on your subject. It can also let you learn information that you might not be able to find anywhere else. You may even find that your interview leads to a great experience or a lasting friendship.