The registrations are (mostly) in, Sunny has had a bath, and there is a box half-packed waiting for our first Regional Heritage Fair of the season! This week, the 2018 Regional Heritage Fairs kick off with the Moose Jaw Regional Heritage Fair on Thursday, followed by the remaining Regional Fairs over the next three weeks (see the schedule at the bottom of the post).

As the one in charge of the registrations, I am thrilled to see the diversity of topics that the students have researched. There are many perennial topics that students choose, but for most of them, it is the first time that they have encountered the Underground Railroad, the Frank Slide, the invention of basketball, the Holocaust, the discovery of insulin, and countless others. The students are excited to share what they have learned and they remind us about why these topics are an important part of Canadian heritage.

There are also many projects about family history, such as the experience of ancestors in the world wars, immigration, family businesses, and relatives who have become celebrated athletes. Some are sharing aspects of their ancestral cultures. Others have chosen to share with us their family members’ experiences in residential school.

A great trend that I have seen is students taking on learning about (and then teaching us as well) our environmental heritage, human rights issues, and the treaties in Saskatchewan. As someone who considers herself quite knowledgeable about Canada, I am amazed at all of what I have missed! Some was not part of the curriculum or taught sufficiently when I was in school, such as the numbered treaties and the treaty relationships. But so much of what the students are studying simply had not yet happened fifteen years ago, or was not nearly discussed as much. Or, on the other end of the scale, they were events that everyone just assumed everyone knew about. With the tragic accident that befell the Humboldt Broncos last week, it was inevitable that the accident that befell the Swift Current Broncos in 1986 would be mentioned. I admit that I would not have known about the 1986 accident were it not for a Heritage Fair project about it last year. I was too young to remember hearing about it and no one thought it was worth mentioning later.

Meanwhile, even high school students in 2018 don’t have first-hand memories of September 11, 2001, but instead are studying it as a historical event like any other. The story of 9-11, especially its Canadian connections, is something that captures students’ imaginations. Perhaps due to family stories, or perhaps with the popularity of Come From Away on Broadway this past year, at least one student is presenting a project about the events of 9-11 in Gander, NL.

As I have said before, there is sometimes confusion about “heritage” and “history”. Even if we can accept that history can be what we had for breakfast this morning, it is difficult to think of recent events as history, let alone part of our heritage. We expect the perennial topics because we learned about them as history too. It is more difficult to see what we still think of as current events or pop culture being discussed as heritage.

That is why it is always good to look at heritage with fresh eyes. Sunny and I are looking forward to this year!


2018 Regional Heritage Fair Schedule:

  • Thursday, April 19 – Moose Jaw Regional Heritage Fair (location: MJ Western Development Museum)
  • Thursday, April 26 – Swift Current Regional Heritage Fair (location: Swift Current Museum)
  • Friday, May 4 – Regina Regional Heritage Fair (location: Campus Regina Public)
  • Thursday, May 10 & Friday, May 11 – Saskatoon Regional Heritage Fair (location: Saskatoon Western Development Museum)
  • Friday, May 11 & Saturday, May 12 – Saskatoon Tribal Council Regional Heritage Fair (location: Wanuskewin Heritage Park)

The Provincial Heritage Fair will take place May 23-24 at Government House in Regina, with the main event taking place on Thursday, May 24.

Katherine Gilks, Education Coordinator, Heritage Saskatchewan
Katherine joined Heritage Saskatchewan in 2013 and is responsible for the Heritage Fairs program for the province of Saskatchewan. She is passionate about heritage, education, and sharing stories. A native of Regina, Katherine received her B.A. (History) from the University of Victoria and her M.L.I.S. from the University of Western Ontario. Among her various previous places of employment are the Greater Victoria Public Library and the Regina Plains Museum (now the Civic Museum of Regina).