Heritage Moments: How youth are finding inspiration through history

By: Jan Morier November, 2014
Saskatchewan students are taking an active interest in their heritage thanks to a school program designed to explore history and culture.
For the past 20 years, the Saskatchewan Heritage Fairs program has been bringing together teachers and their students from across the province to explore Saskatchewan and Canadian heritage. This past year, over 2,300 students from 131 classrooms created a Heritage Fair project.
“Judging by the fun they were having with their projects, many elementary school students engaged in the Saskatchewan Heritage Fairs saw their future brimming with possibility,” says Ingrid Cazakoff, CEO, Heritage Saskatchewan. Students were excited to share what they learned on a diverse array to topics, such as paleontology, archaeology, sport and well-known Canadian personalities. Some also focused on historic milestones and events– like the legalization of gay marriage in Canada – while others celebrated family and cultural affiliations.
Students from grades 4 to 8 developed their heritage fair projects in the classroom through inquiry-based learning. Teachers helped their students research a topic, create a written report and visual display that went with an oral presentation. Classrooms held their own heritage fairs where students and their projects were selected to represent their school at the regional competition level, and from that point, a panel of judges can then select students to go to the Provincial Heritage Fair. The participants are rewarded with certificates, plaques and trophies for their interest and hard work in exploring Canadian heritage.
“The participants were incredibly engaged in their chosen topics,” says Cazakoff. “They were quick to proclaim their topics ‘rocked their world’, and the research confirmed or changed their views.”
Cazakoff adds that the projects even inspired some of the students to consider careers based on their topics. Some became intrigued in possibly pursuing careers as a researcher, writer, archivist, curator or exhibit designer. “Whatever their path in life, their experience in the Heritage Fairs program undoubtedly would have provided them with new skills, an improved understanding of citizenship and a renewed appreciation for their heritage.”
The Heritage Fair program is produced by Heritage Saskatchewan and supported by SaskCulture/Saskatchewan Lotteries, and the Saskatchewan Heritage Foundation.