BC Heritage Fairs Alumni

The Official Heritage Fairs Student Site

Day 2 Virtual Heritage Fair — June 30, 2020

Day 2 Virtual Heritage Fair

By Tracy, Junior Alumni Council

Aaand we’re back with day two of our first ever Virtual Provincial Heritage Fair! 

We opened with some introductory comments from Rachel, our Alumni Program Manager. She mentioned something about the Journal Elf(s)… what could that be about?

Robert Bateman Foundation

Our first presentation was Carey-Lynn from the Bateman Foundation! She played a video of Mr. Bateman talking about what each individual’s special place might be, and reminded us that in thinking of our home and the environment that surrounds us as a special place, we get to know it better, and identify why it’s special. That makes us more likely to take care of it.

Carey-Lynn also led us through some drawing exercises, and showed another video of one of Mr Bateman’s sketching practices. She recommends starting out with basic shapes and then adding in cross-hatching or shading for perspectives. Keeping a nature journal is also a great idea!

A quick break for some nature sketching, and then moving on to our next presentation!

Interview #1:

Rebecca was our first interviewee, and she was interviewed by Tracy. 

Many of the wider-known stories (such as collections and fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm) are sexist, and teach us one version of history, whereas many forgotten stories and legends are more “politically correct.” Stories like ‘The Nettle Princess’ shows the princess rescuing the prince, which is a type of narrative that we’re unfamiliar with in most popular fairy tales. Rebecca’s project compares the role of women in fairy tales and Indigenous stories, and she wrote a story based in an Indigenous community that shows a strong, female heroine. 

Interview #2:

The second interviewee was Dayna, whose project was on her grandfather and his journey in the RCMP. She was interviewed by Leona. Her research covered the extensive process and training as an RCMP Cadet, as well as techniques they used and animals in the police force. Dana showed us the RCMP uniform during her presentation, including her grandfather’s epaulets! 


Our next presentation was from our very own Alumni, Leona and Kevin, as well as graduated Alumnus Lucas! They showed us a video of George Elliott being interviewed last summer in Victoria, and how his father Dr David Elliott Sr. created the SENĆOŦEN alphabet. In doing this he hoped to preserve the rich and vibrant culture of the Saanich peoples. 

Leona, Lucas and Kevin also talked about how we need to use reliable resources to learn and educate ourselves about the Indigenous community and their needs and situation. We need to work towards improving Indigenous inclusion and reconciliation – because there are Indigenous voices that aren’t always heard, and it’s all of our individual responsibilities to champion these efforts to have suppressed voices heard. We need to work towards improving Indigenous inclusion and reconciliation.  

They also shared with us a fun Kahoot!

Alberni Valley Museum

Next, we got to go inside the Alberni Valley Museum, right from our screens at home! Shelley led us through the museum, and throughout the trip student participants enthusiastically and chimed in with appreciation for how cool the tour was! Alberni Valley Museum was built in 1971, but expanded to 3 times the size in the 1980s. Their mandate is to collect and preserve the human and cultural history of the Alberni Valley. Some examples are their Indigenous basket collection of 300+ pieces, their furniture gallery, machinery, artworks, and so many more exhibits. 

If you are curious, the virtual tour can be accessed from their website.

Lunch Break

At lunch, we premiered the documentary that both Alumni councils have been working hard on for many many months! The official film will be released on YouTube on Saturday June 4th at 5pm. If you would like, we are inviting you to attend the virtual ‘watch party’ at the same time, which can be joined at this YouTube link.

In the meantime, check out our trailer here!

Interview #3:

Our first presenter after the lunch break was Chloe, interviewed by Vedanshi. Her project was on the inventions, work, and lifetime of Alexander Graham Bell. Chloe talked about how his inventions have revolutionized our world of modern-day communication, especially how important it was to stay connected during this COVID-19 pandemic. 

She noted that the pandemic would’ve looked a lot different without Bell’s inventions, and it would be far more difficult to maintain contact with friends and family. 

Interview #4:

Our next presenter, Andreas, shared with us Canada’s role in NATO during the Cold War and the creation & meaning of Article 2. He was also interviewed by Vedanshi. 

Andreas talked about how different sources have different perspectives, but both are important because it’s good to see both (and all) points of view on the war. Some tellings may not include all the important parts, he said, but it was important to see all the details in the war, not only parts from the winning side.

Vancouver Japanese Language School

We were in for a treat in the next speakers! Dr Horii and Laura from the Vancouver Japanese Language School gave a fascinating presentation about the Japanese Internment and racism in Canada. 

Dr. Horii shared his personal experience with us during his time being in an internment camp, and anecdotes about growing up as a Japanese-Canadian. In this current COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Horii thinks that noticing racism towards Asian-Americans is more crucial than ever. If reconciliation is to happen, then we all must take our steps forward together. 

This is very special! ‘Living history’ from a person who has experienced WWII, is way different from a primary source. 

The Japanese Hall is now a National Historic Site! 

Interview #5:

Next up, with his project on Japanese displacement in the Second World War, was Jack, being interviewed by Ashley and Tom from Know History. His project was based on letters home from a Japanese-Canadian teen, Koji (a pseudonym) who’d been displaced to the Prairies, to his friend Joan. As part of his research process, he used archival sources from UBC Archives, including the original letters. Jack pointed out that in internment camps, letters were often censored, so we are lucky to have them to study today! 

Interview #6:

The next project belonged to Hiba, who was interviewed by Tom and Ashley. Her project was on Barkerville and focused on Billy Barker and the Cariboo Gold Rush. She points out that the starting of BC was in Barkerville, because of the Gold Rush, and that it was fundamental to the founding of British Columbia. It was a flourishing town, with a whopping 8,000 people at its peak!

Gulf of Georgia Cannery

Next up were Tara, Andrea and Johanna from the Gulf of Georgia Cannery! The Cannery is a Parks Canada National Historic Site that opened 126 years ago – before which Indigenous peoples had already been fishing on the land. The workshop was full of interactive activities, including understanding the various machinery. We learned about the Retort, the Iron Butcher and the Vacuum Sealer, which had been developed almost 100 years ago and before, the latest in the 1920-1930’s! They shared with us the importance of people in the canning line as well, not just machines. Did you know that the Iron Butcher can process and clean a salmon per second? Wow! 

The presentation wrapped up with a fun Kahoot. You can check out their interactive Virtual Museum of Canada website here.


And last but certainly not least, Ashley and Tom came back for one last presentation! They work for Know History. The company has 50+ full-time historians, hired basically to make Heritage Fair projects for clients. Sounds like a fun job! 

They shared interpretive writing tips & tricks, whether to caption historical photos or write short summaries. Try not to use unnecessary, fancy words or overcomplicate things! The readers want to know about what’s happening in the moment. 

Before they wrapped up, Tom and Ashley left us with one last task – a writing competition! They showed us a historical photo and asked us to create an interpretive writing for it. Most submissions have been sent in already and we are awaiting results! It’s, in Ashley’s words, a “chance to win some cool KnowHistory swag.” Participated in the fair but still haven’t submitted? There’s still time! 


Rachel offered some concluding remarks. Thank you to all the participants, sponsors, and planners, and supporters for making this such a successful Fair! Although we hate to see it end (and we were having such fun, too!) we hope to see you in the future, hopefully in person! 

And that, my friends, concludes our Virtual Provincial Heritage Fair of 2020!

Virtual Fair Day 1 — June 28, 2020

Virtual Fair Day 1

It’s a Fair tradition for alumni students to write a blog post detailing each day’s events, and this year’s Virtual Fair is no different! Check out today’s Virtual Fair notes, written by Vedanshi, Junior Council Coordinator, and Abhiyan from our Junior Council.

You can also see all of our students’ presentations on our Virtual Fair page. Did you miss out on Day 1 and you’re feeling the FOMO? Send an email to alumi(at)bcheritagefairs(dot)ca by 9am Sunday to receive the link for Day 2 of programming!

Introductory comments by Rachel Meloche, Alumni Program Manager

Land Acknowledgement

Theme: Community

Participants from all across BC!

Remarks from Kris Foulds, Chair of the BCHFS Board of Directors

Something cool this year was the Land Acknowledgements from various regions of BC because we are all signing in from different parts of the province. “Empathy, learning agility, and leadership”

Sponsors! Thank you! BC Hydro Power Pioneers, Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC, Know History, and Fraser Valley Farm Machinery Association. BC Hydro Power Pioneers and CCHSBC shared video messages.

Participants and presenters got to know each other in break-out rooms!

Native Land Presentation

Victor and Christine from Native Land are our first presenters! Learning process of education about the land that they live on. “It can be difficult for people to learn about the land they live on having a violent past.” So Victor made this tool to be a way to get that education and be less intimidating. If anyone is interested in making an interactive map, Victor recommends using MapBox. 

There are plans to add in pronunciation guides.

A really important part of Native Land is to make the boundaries as accurate as possible, but recognize that it may have errors and inaccuracies. You have to look at oral histories, old historical maps, but a lot of time, the authority or time period to be used may not be clear.

Native Land’s now a non-profit, and have an Indigenous Board of Directors, as are the Executive Director and Staff. Trying to reflect traditions and ways of knowing of First Nations People.

Land acknowledgements are personal to each nation, there isn’t one way – it’s really about understanding each nation.

Christine, the Executive Director of Native Land, and also an Archaeologist! Their platform is still growing as they fill-in gaps. In addition to maps, they also have land acknowledgment, or territory acknowledgment, tools. We need to make sure that these Land Acknowledgements have meaning each time we do them, and not simply something to say – it takes some more reflection and deeper thinking.

What does land mean to you?

Christine shared a personal anecdote: There are many Algonquin People who live off-reserve and understand their heritage, re-learn their traditions, and once again form connections with their land.

We need to make sure we’re inviting people to teach about traditional customs and knowledge, and get a better understanding and appreciation for the land we live on.

These communities are re-learning and re-connecting with their culture.

Why is it hard to relearn language? Only 10 people speak her specific dialogue. These individuals are often very spread apart – their community has been separated from land and family for over 130 years, and in that time, they were forced to give up their culture, language, beliefs, “we were taught that it was a shameful thing to be who we are.”

Participants got to ask the speakers questions, and we learned a lot about the incredible and extensive process that goes into piecing together traditions and heritage.

Interview #1:

Abigail was our first interviewee, with a project on Harriet Tubman, interviewed by Leona! Abigail made a really neat diorama, and it showed how enslaved people were rescued and transported secretly by hiding them in wagons under wood and vegetables. Abigail primarily used books to do her research.

Break 1:

Featured a video from the BC Power Pioneers – great facts and learning about how they contributed to the development of BC as we know it today!

Interview #2:

Next interview was by Jora, and about Walter Harris and George Klein, interviewed by Lucy! Important because their inventions changed the transportation methods for disabled for veterans – knowing that “mobility problems increase with age.” “According to the World Health Organization, there are 2 billion disabled people in the world,” and these Canadian inventors have invented a means of helping the 75 million individuals that need a wheelchair. Jora was really excited to do his first-ever Heritage Fair project, and learned a lot!

Interview #3:

Shared by Logan, about how silver mining in the Kootenays (interior BC) affected BC’s regional development socially, economically, and just in everyday life, interviewed by Keilin! Logan visited museums to look at their collection of artefacts, and also used several books, archival photographs of mines and miners for his research!

It was great to see other students and participants joining into the conversation, and asking questions! This interaction is something students normally get to experience at Fairs across BC in-person, but it is wonderful to have this interaction virtually!

Interview #4: Lyla

Lyla’s project was personal, on her family’s history, also interviewed by Keilin! Lyla talked about how Clinton has a very close-knit community, and everyone’s been helping each other out during COVID. Her grandfather used to write articles for newspapers, and that’s where she was able to get her archival photographs from! Lyla talked about the interview process needing to be modified as a result of COVID-19, and did a lot of phone interviews, and learned a lot of stories from her grandparents that she didn’t know earlier! Lyla felt closer with her grandparents after her project, and what a wonderful way for Lyla to connect with her grandparents, and keep their history alive! Lyla wants to continue doing more Heritage Fair projects!

Presentation by Stephanie Halmhofer on Archaeology and Pop Culture:

Stephanie studied pseudo-archaeology, which is about how archaeology can be changed in nefarious ways, for instance, people incorrectly sharing or manipulating archaeology to mean something different, and how archaeology influences pop culture. Material culture is important, but the context within which that artefact is found is more important to go beyond a superficial description. Students took part in a neat activity to try archaeological interpretation by thinking of the room they are in as the archaeological site, and picking an object to study! We even learned about the archaeological perspective of Star Wars – how material culture is interacted with by characters, for instance, Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber and how it’s a sign of lineage.

Presentation by Brianne by the Port Moody Station Museum

We got to see the trench virtually through a live-streamed tour by Brianne and Markus! The plane we saw was one of the most successful planes of WWI, however, when introduced in 1951, there were severe engine problems, and it hit the front line in 1918 once again. Markus has done scouting in this type of aircraft to find and hunt down enemy spy balloons. However, despite the engineering coolness of the plane, Markus noted that there is nothing nice to say about the war, since it is all about destruction. Markus told us that normally an officer in the days of the cavalry would have a sword on the left side, and so to this day, aircrafts are boarded from the left – that’s how this old thinking influences modern technology! The rest of the tour was super cool and fun, especially because we’re all mostly staying home, this allowed all participants to explore a new place and its history just from home!

Student Interview #5: Will

Brianne and Markus stayed on the line to interview our next student presenter, Will! Will talked about, amongst other things, people are very familiar with battles where we have had great successes, like Vimy Ridge, but Canadians don’t know about unsuccessful battles, like Beaumont-Hamel (only 3 out of 25 of his interviewees knew about this one). History is not just composed of independent events, everything is connected together “in a big web.” Our interviewer Markus also shared a fact that during one battle the officers put small mirrors on the back of their soldiers’ uniforms so that the sunlight would reflect on their backs, and they’d be able to see when the soldiers made it to the top of the hill, or identify the location of fallen soldiers. 

Presentation by Andrew Farris, Co-Founder of On This Spot

Andrew talked about why he started On This Spot. It actually started off as a travel blog, where he would post then-and-now photos, which is where the idea came about! The project started in Nagasaki, where Andrew overlapped a photo of the aftermath of the destruction after the atomic bomb, with a modern-day photo of the rebuilt city. Realizing when he was at Juno Beach that he wanted to know about the history of the place, Andrew realized that this would be a neat idea for an app, and partnered up with his now co-founders, and they’ve been adding in neat new features ever since! This is “a great way to get people engaged with history- especially young people!” We even got to see the first photograph ever taken- did you know it took a whopping two full days of constant exposure?

End of Day 1- Excited for Day 2 of the Fair tomorrow- programming starts at 9:30 a.m.!

Dr. Sun Yat-sen and his Connections to Canada — June 4, 2020

Dr. Sun Yat-sen and his Connections to Canada

by Daniel, Junior Council

In Summer of 2019 my family and I had made plans to go into Downtown Vancouver and visit the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Gardens. However, we never managed to find the time to last year, and now, due to the ongoing pandemic, we unfortunately won’t be able to for an indefinite period of time. But as we stay at home and follow the federal procedures, my family and I (me especially) like to reflect on the name the gardens bear: Dr. Sun Yat-sen.

Dr. Sun was a remarkable man in many ways. He is still viewed as an influential person even though he died nearly a century ago in 1925. Dr. Sun was born in Guangzhou in 1866. He had voyaged to Hawaiian colleges to get a better medical education in his younger years because he felt that there were better schools overseas. Upon returning, he became frustrated with what he saw as a collapsing China, which in his eyes contrasted with the progress of the USA and Britain. As such, he embarked on a lifelong goal to transform China into a republic, and gained notoriety for his novel philosophies which defined what a quintessential society meant to him, for which he is remembered today.

While this eminent person certainly had a great impact on his country, he also has a strong impact on Canada. As part of his international exploits, he had toured through Canada in the early 20th century to try to raise funds for the numerous revolutionary societies he worked for and educate expatriate Chinese about the possibility of a Chinese democracy. In doing so he had spread his philosophy even to Canada, and helped to impact the thinking of the population and BC. His actions even inspired a relatively unknown son of a Chinese coal importer to immigrate to Canada, who would later become a model civilian and would donate to many charities. His name was David Lam. And Mr. Lam would go on to sponsor the creation of Canada’s first classical Chinese garden, the one mentioned earlier that was named after Dr. Sun Yat-sen himself. In some regards Dr. Sun ushered into Canada a wave of Chinese culture in a place which once suffered from widespread segregation against the Asian community, and helped to make Canada the nation it is today, with its grand multicultural heritage and its diverse ethnic backgrounds.

So when we reflect on Dr. Sun Yat-sen and his unmistakable presence today, it is also interesting to note how he has changed Canada.

Sources for further reading: