Kristin Catherwood, Intangible Cultural Heritage Development Officer

Six months ago we introduced the Val Marie Elevator Living Heritage Project and now we at Heritage Saskatchewan are thrilled to celebrate the results of this project in Val Marie on Saturday, September 15th for a community documentary screening and booklet launch. This project was a collaboration with the Val Marie Heritage, Culture and Youth Grain Elevator Restoration Committee with the support of the Village of Val Marie. The tangible results of this project are a video documentary produced by Grade Ten and Eleven students from Val Marie School and a booklet written mostly by members of the community.

In January, I met with students and community members for the kickoff to the project: an Introduction to Intangible Cultural Heritage workshop. From there, the school project was developed. I spent a day in March with the Grade Ten and Eleven class teaching them the basics of video production and interview techniques. From there, they split into three groups and made short videos in which they interviewed community members about the heritage elevator. Their finished videos will be supplemented with interviews I did with the students about their experiences working on the project. Finally, the students wrote essays about their videos which will appear in the published booklet.

More than twenty local community members contributed directly to the booklet, with many more being involved in some way. We hear stories from different perspectives about the elevator and family farming in the Val Marie district over the years. We learn why this elevator still stands in the community, what it has meant to the community over time, and are left with questions about its future. This project is an invitation to the community of Val Marie, and to other Saskatchewan communities, to continue the important work of recognizing, celebrating, interpreting, and preserving our living heritage.

For myself personally, it’s been an incredibly rewarding experience. I will forever cherish the connections I’ve made with the community of Val Marie and area: the dinners I had at the Val Marie Hotel, the coffees I shared at contributors’ kitchen tables, the time I spent with the talented high school students, the many phone calls back and forth over the past several months with booklet contributors. I especially will miss the elevator committee meetings which always included delicious food! I am inspired by the passion and dedication of the committee members, past and present, who made sure that Val Marie’s elevator was saved, and who continue to work towards its enduring legacy into the future.

Following the booklet launch and documentary screening in Val Marie, they will be available on our website, so watch this space!