By Katherine Gilks, Education/Outreach Coordinator
Well, we have come to the end of another Heritage Fairs season! The 2023 Provincial Heritage Fair took place on Wednesday, June 14, at Government House in Regina. (Photos will be up on our website by the end of June.) There, for the second time in person since the Covid-19 pandemic, we gathered to celebrate the students and their wonderful projects about Canadian heritage. We had 44 projects (55 students) from across Saskatchewan. Students – and their dedicated chaperones – came from as far away as Kyle, Hudson Bay, Gravelbourg, Aberdeen, and Whitewood to share their projects and spend the day in Regina at Government House.
These 55 students were the top projects from our Virtual Heritage Fair and the Moose Jaw Regional Heritage Fair, in which approximately 400 students took part. Once again, the projects were on diverse topics, all with the common thread of being connected to Canada and Canadians. Some projects were about students’ personal and familial heritage, while others were about broader global topics of contemporary importance. Many students chose to explore a topic that they had never learned much about before, or to delve deeper into something that they had a passion for. They were excited to share that passion as well as their knowledge. All of the judges and visitors that I talked to throughout the season, whether in person or online, were amazed at the work that the students put into their projects and enjoyed their experience immensely. They all learned something new.
At our Awards Ceremony for the Provincial Heritage Fair, we had some guest speakers. Heritage Saskatchewan’s Honourary Patron, His Honour the Honourable Russ Mirasty, Lt.-Governor of Saskatchewan, reminded the students that heritage is important to all of us and that it makes us who we are as individuals and as part of larger stories. He drew on his own recent experience getting to meet King Charles III in person, and how heritage connects us to our past, present, and future. Every topic that the students explored was important to them and is part of our Canadian story.
We also had the Mayor of Regina, Sandra Masters, offer greetings and she reminded the students to “stay curious and stay courageous”, because these two traits will guide them throughout their lives, long after their projects might be in the recycling bin and they will have moved on to new ones. Curiosity to explore new ideas and to research the ideas presented to them, and the courage to share what they have learned and to advocate for what they believe to be important.
As I mentioned in my blogpost from late March, this year was special for me in that I got to be a part of many school fairs. While these visits were an opportunity to meet with teachers and students in person after three years of mostly being online, they were also simply a wonderful opportunity to see just how many wonderful projects there are that do not necessarily advance to the Regional Fairs.
There were lots of topics that I had never seen before. I got to meet younger students who were excited to do their first project and were already planning for future years, as well as reconnect with students who had done the Virtual Fair or even participated back in 2019. At the school level, everyone participates, and it was wonderful to meet each student and see what they had explored. I enjoyed every project!
For me, I had a great time exploring the province. Thank you all for welcoming me into your communities! Congratulations to you all on the work your students did!
Special thanks and congratulations to schools who participated for the first time in the Heritage Fairs program and to those who participated in person for the first time!
For everyone, thank you all for making this Heritage Fairs season happen again. We want to bring back our Regional Fairs in Saskatoon and Regina in 2024, and we need the support of the teachers, parents, and community members for them. I look forward to seeing what next year’s students have to teach us!