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.!