Inside the century-old wooden walls of the North Pacific Cannery, more than 120 students filled the space with their own heritage projects where workers once canned salmon.
Young researchers showcased Canadian history at the Northwest Regional Heritage Fair on Monday, May 16. There were 98 different projects by students from six regional schools, including Conrad Elementary, Pineridge Elementary and Annunciation School.
“It was another wonderful day of learning so much about the students passion for things heritage and historical,” said Lesley Moore, the general manager of the North Pacific Cannery. This was the third year the cannery has hosted the fair.
The BC Heritage Fairs Program began in 1994 and runs annually with more than 6,000 students participating. Last year, the cannery had 82 projects and 200 people showed up when the fair opened for public viewing. Moore has been involved in the fair for 15 years, and each year more and more students get inovlved.
Projects ranged from a history of B.C. gold mining, button blankets, Sable Island horses, to the origins of the Relay For Life in Canada. Some students dressed the part, others designed an eye-catching display board.
Jessica Slocombe, a Grade 5 student at Pineridge Elementary was given the Historic Places Intiative Award for her “No Horsin’Around” project.
“The students put so much work into it on their own. I’m sure a few parents made suggestions as to how to display things. The teachers’ efforts this year was about to make it more relevant for the kids,” Moore said.
For example, Madison Watkins did her project on First Nations button blankets. She blended North Coast history with her own family history, and wore the button vest for her presentation.
Josh Leighton, won for his project on Metlakatla’s history. For his presentation he had artifacts from what was used in the past and compared it with items that are used today in the community, such as an old bowl and a fishing hook.
READ MORE: HERITAGE FAIR PROGRAM RECEIVES B.C. AWARD
The new B.C. curriculum supports programs such as the Heritage Fair, Moore explained. It encourages students to get out in their community and use the resources in their own communities.
Dale Boyle was the heritage coach at Conrad Elementary School.
She brought 12 teams to present.
“It’s rewarding to see. Research can be tiring but a week and a half before the Heritage Fair these kids try to improve the projects on their own and the learning comes alive,” Boyle said.
Projects were adjudicated by 14 judges who came from the Museum of Northern B.C., Port Edward Historical Society Board, Kitimat Museum, Terrace Heritage Park Museum and other areas of expertise.
Emily Gordon, a Grade 4 student at Pineridge Elementary, was given the BC Magazine Award for her project on “The Relay for Life.”
It was Laurie Davie’s first year as a judge. She worked at a museum in Ontario before moving to the North Coast. She’s now a cannery board member and volunteer.
“The details of the project was amazing with people fairly young, like Grade 4 students,” Davie said. Every student has a pair of judges ask them questions such as the motivation for their project, how they did their research and if they had unlimited time and resources what would they have added.
This year had 12 winners in nine different categories, but only three were selected to represent the region at the B.C. Provincial Fair in Vancouver this July. The winners were, Josh Leighton for his “Melakatla” project, Malachi Veri for “A Park with Two Names” and Tyler Henry for the “LA Hal” project.
The fair drew parents, relatives, teachers, elders, volunteers and some Grade 3 students who came to learn and prepare for participating next year.