Does the project have to be about family history, or specifically about Saskatchewan?
No, it can be about anything relating to Canada. Students are encouraged to choose a topic that they enjoy and want to learn more about. (Teachers do have the option to assign specific topics.)
Can the teacher assign specific topics?
Teachers can choose to assign specific topics if that works best for them or their class. For example, sometimes teachers have had their whole class study local treaties, explorers, famous Saskatchewan people, or their students' family histories.
How long ago did something have to happen, or how old does something have to be, before it is considered ‘heritage’?
Living Heritage is about the past, present, and future. It does not matter how old something is for it to be considered heritage.
Are science topics acceptable?
Absolutely. Science is a big part of our heritage.
What about sports? Artists? Movies? Does it matter how famous someone is?
Any of these could be potential topics, as long as they relate to Canada in some way. It does not matter how famous someone is or was. Someone who is very famous to a student might be someone that the judges have never heard about!
Can a student do a project about a fictional character or story?
Yes, as long as that character is connected to Canada. Anne of Green Gables (as opposed to Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of Anne of Green Gables) is a popular choice.
What about something that did not happen in Canada or is not entirely Canadian?
Many events that happened in other countries have a Canadian connection (such as a war that Canadians participated in). Some people move away from Canada for their careers, such as actors, but they still have a connection to Canada. Non-Canadians who have lived in or partially live in Canada can also be acceptable topics.
Can a student do a project about their family's heritage in another country?
Yes. The student and their family are themselves a connection to Canada.
Can a student do a project about another country (as a topic)?
Yes, but they need to make a connection to Canada in some way. For example, a student might want to do a project about a country that their ancestors used to live in. However, these students are at a disadvantage at the regional level because many of the questions that the judges will ask relate to connecting their topic to Canada. A better choice of topic would be to compare Canada to another country, discuss the trading relationships between Canada and another country, or the ongoing influence of another country on Canada.
What if a student is still not sure if the topic that they are interested in studying fits into Heritage Fairs?
They can always check with their teacher. If their teacher is not sure either, either the student or the parent can check with Heritage Saskatchewan.
What if a topic is controversial?
If a teacher is uneasy about a topic being controversial, they should check with Heritage Saskatchewan. If a student does good research and is respectful in preparing their display and presentation, almost any topic relating to Canada is acceptable.
What language can a student use for their project?
Because judges need to be able to understand a language in order to properly judge a project, Heritage Fairs projects are currently accepted in English or French. A project can also be bilingual in English & French, or be bilingual in either of those and another language. Students can also include words from other languages, along with translations, as part of their display and presentation. In order to have a project presented in any language other than English & French at the Regional or Provincial levels, the organisers of the Heritage Fair would need to have enough notice to find judges fluent in that language.
Has there been a shift in focus away from history?
Any shift (actual or perceived) of focus from exclusively on history to a broader range of topics reflects the current education curriculum, societal trends, and Heritage Saskatchewan's mandate. Historical thinking is a cornerstone of the Heritage Fairs program.
Is there anything that would be considered a "bad" topic?
There is no such thing as a "bad" topic, but a topic can be poorly handled. Also, a "bad" topic would be one which has no connection to Canada or wherein the connection to Canada cannot be readily inferred. This is why "Project Description" was added to the registration form for the Regional Fairs, as a title alone can be misleading.
Are any topics preferred over others?
All projects are judged on their own merits. Students are judged on their presentation, research, and critical thinking. There are some awards at the Regional Fairs (the Topical Awards) that are given to projects on specific topics. Awards sponsored by third parties may also be limited to projects on specific topics.
Is it cultural appropriation if a student creates a Heritage Fairs project about an aspect of a cultural group that they are not a part of?
No, but the student needs to do good research and be respectful in their display and presentation. (In such cases, students should avoid costumes.) They must be mindful that members whichever cultural group they are depicting may be among the other students, chaperones, judges, and visitors.
Is there anything to be avoided in a Heritage Fairs display or presentation?
No food, please. Also, please avoid the following: black/yellow/red-face makeup; sexualised costumes; racist/sexist phrases, cartoons, or models (especially without context); loud audio that drowns out neighbouring students (judges can always listen to audio-visual presentations with headphones); or items that can break easily and not be easily replaced. Students can paint their faces to look dirty if they want to portray miners, railroad workers, or someone in a similar occupation.
No food at all?
Students can include food as display items only if it relates to their project. Due to rules about food safety as well as food around museum displays, food cannot be served in samples. Individually-wrapped candies may be acceptable, but should be avoided. To display food, use either empty packaging, sealed packaging, photos, or models. For example, a project about the Ganong Chocolate Factory might include empty chocolate boxes, while a project on maple syrup might include a full (unopened) bottle of maple syrup.
Can students include games and quizzes in their presentation? Can they offer prizes?
Yes, but please do not use candy as a prize. Students can also provide something for judges (or visitors and other students) to take home as a souvenir.
About the Heritage Fairs Program
Can students work in partners or groups?
Two students working together in partners are fine, but groups of three or more are strongly discouraged.
Can students outside of grades four through eight participate?
Students not in grades 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8 may present at their local school Heritage Fair only. Prior to 2014, the program included grade nine. We have eliminated that grade at the competition level because grade nine students are considered to be part of the high school curriculum in Saskatchewan.
In the case of grade 3/4 classes, what happens if students in grades three and four partner together for a project?
While grade three students are otherwise ineligible to advance past their school fair, a grade three student who is partnered with a grade four student in the same class may advance with their partner. In that case, the student must be registered as being in the same eligible grade as their partner - so for the purpose of the Heritage Fair, they will be considered to be in grade four and judged accordingly, which may be a disadvantage considering their young age.
In the case of combined grade 8/9 classes in rural schools, what happens if students in grades eight and nine partner together for a project?
Teachers are strongly discouraged from allowing this to happen because it can provide those students with an unfair advantage. However, as long as the students are in the same class, neither student will be disqualified from participating if their school chooses to send their project to a Regional Fair. Both students must be registered as grade 8 students. Regional Heritage Fair committees reserve the right to exclude the project from advancing to the Provincial level in favour of a project done exclusively by grade eight students. (Full disclosure: No project since 2014, when grade 9 was first excluded, wherein a grade 9 and grade 8 student were paired together have earned a Regional Fair award or a spot at the Provincial level. However, regardless of whether there is truly an unfair advantage, teachers are encouraged to keep their grade eight students and grade nine students doing separate projects.)
Are essays/written reports required?
It is up to individual teachers whether or not their students need to prepare an essay (rather than a written report or project outline). As long as students present their projects and document their sources, they do not need to include an essay. At the Regional and Provincial levels, judges do not have time to read either an essay or a written report. (At the Moose Jaw Regional Heritage Fair, there is a local award for essays. Teachers are responsible for submitting essays for this award in advance, and participation in this capacity is entirely optional.)
Can a student participate independently?
Yes - an independent student and their teacher (or parent) must make arrangements with their local Regional Heritage Fair Committee to have their project judged prior to being accepted for the Regional Heritage Fair. Contact Heritage Saskatchewan or check out this link for further details on independent students.
Does a whole class have to participate?
No. The overall number of participating students from a class (or school) determines how many can attend the Regional Heritage Fair. It is perfectly fine for less than a whole class to participate. Some schools have created a Heritage Fair Club in the past (ranging from 6-12 students).
There is no Regional Heritage Fair in my community and no tradition of Heritage Fairs in my school division. Can my students still participate?
Yes. When they register, teachers need to declare which Regional Fair they want their students to attend. Usually, this is the closest Regional Fair geographically or with the most accessible/direct road. A school may also make special arrangements with Heritage Saskatchewan under the following conditions: a) they are located a minimum of more than four (4) hours of driving distance from the nearest Regional Fair; b) they want to set up a Regional Fair in their community, but did not get enough interest from any other school for that year; c) they have had a negative experience participating in the nearest Regional Fair such as they feel that their continuing to participate there would be harmful to their students; or d) they want to participate in the program, but did not find out about it until well past the teacher-registration (but not the student-registration) deadline. All special arrangements are at the discretion of Heritage Saskatchewan and will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
How are students chosen to attend the Regional Heritage Fair?
The respective Regional Heritage Fair committees determine how many students per school can attend each Regional Heritage Fair based on the total number of students participating from each school. (These numbers are taken from teachers' registrations.) Note that the committees take the total numbers per school, not per class. It is up to the individual schools to determine how to assign their allotted spots to each class, if they wish to do so. Schools can host a school-wide Heritage Fair to determine their winners; they can also choose their winners from each participating class. This is up to the participating teachers from each school
How much work is required from participating teachers?
Teachers need to provide support for their students: introduce them to the topics, guide them in their research, etc. Teachers also need to register online with Heritage Saskatchewan and then register their students who are advancing to the Regional Heritage Fair. It is ultimately up to the teacher how much they want to be involved.
Do teachers need to be chaperones at the Regional and/or Provincial Heritage Fairs?
At least one teacher (or education assistant) from each school should attend the Regional Heritage Fair as a chaperone. Most Regional Heritage Fair committees stipulate that one teacher from each school attend as a chaperone, even if there are only two or three students participating. (Chaperones of independent students do not need to be teachers.)
For the Provincial Heritage Fair, any school that has two or more finalists needs to provide a chaperone associated with that school, but this does not have to be a teacher - it could be a parent, education assistant, or administrator as well.
If a teacher misses the registration deadline for teachers, can their students still participate?
If a teacher misses the teacher-registration deadline (usually early February), it is always still possible for them to have a local school fair. However, it is at the discretion of the relevant Regional Heritage Fair committee whether or not the school or class would be allowed to participate any further.
If a teacher misses the registration deadline for students for the Regional Heritage Fairs, can their students still participate?
This is at the discretion of the relevant Regional Heritage Fair committee. The committees and Heritage Saskatchewan all want what is best for the students, but the deadlines are in place to ensure that the program runs smoothly.
Does Heritage Saskatchewan have any authority over the Regional Heritage Fair committees when it comes to registration deadlines?
Heritage Saskatchewan is responsible for the program overall and the Provincial Heritage Fair. Heritage Saskatchewan will provide guidance, but will not overrule any decision about registration deadlines that a committee makes.
Is there any appeal process if a student was (or seemed to be) judged unfairly?
No - all decisions made at each Heritage Fair are final. No matter how large or small the event, committee members cannot be omnipresent and must trust the judges' evaluations. Every effort is made to ensure a fair and equitable judging process.
Teachers, parents, other chaperones, or judges can discuss an issue of unfairness (actual or perceived) with the relevant Regional Committee and with Heritage Saskatchewan to make recommendations for future years. If necessary, an official apology to the student will be issued.
Is it equitable if a large proportion of award winners or Provincial finalists are from the same school?
Award winners are determined with great care and attention. Representation of participating schools is one of the many factors taken into consideration, but students' scores and the content of students' presentations (as well as the criteria for each award) are given more weight. The last thing anyone wants is for a student to feel that they won their award due to tokenism rather than merit.
Provincial finalists are determined by their Regional Heritage Fair scores. It is thus possible that a large number can be from the same school, while other schools are "shut out" of the list of finalists, even if they had the largest number of participants at the Regional Fair. There is no intention on the part of any committee members, judges, or Heritage Saskatchewan staff to favour or discriminate against particular schools.
What about the fact that French-immersion students can be underrepresented in the award winners and Provincial finalists?
Every effort is made to ensure a fair and equitable judging process. However, communication is one of the elements that students are being evaluated on, so a student's command of the language of their project remains a factor in how they are judged. (Judges are reminded that students may be presenting in their second or third language and are advised to take this into account.) The proportion of French-language projects compared to the number of projects overall is also a factor in how many win awards or advance to the Provincial Heritage Fair.
Is it fair to have committee members whose students are also participating in the Regional Heritage Fairs?
If a committee member has students participating in the Heritage Fair, that committee member will not take part in the awards selection process.
Is there a National Heritage Fair?
Unfortunately, no, there is no longer a National Heritage Fair. For the Young Citizens contest, which is run nationally by Canada's History Society and associated with Heritage Fairs, see here.
How does Heritage Saskatchewan choose students to talk at events elsewhere about their Heritage Fairs experience?
Students are chosen based on whether they won an award at the Provincial Heritage Fair (or were chosen as Young Citizens winners) and their geographic proximity to the event, as well as their availability.