Student historians gather for 1st P.E.I. Heritage Fair since pandemic began

·3 min read
Student historians gather for 1st P.E.I. Heritage Fair since pandemic began

For the first time in three years, students and staff gathered in person for P.E.I.'s Provincial Heritage Fair.

In recent years, the pandemic ruined plans for young historians to gather and show off their research and history projects. Prior to COVID-19, more than 200 students from roughly 28 schools could be expected at the event.

This year's fair took place in Orwell and saw more than 40 students from five different schools. Though there were fewer students than normal, the level of excitement was immeasurable.

Mya Kells is a Grade 5 student at Spring Park Elementary and her project was on harness racing on P.E.I.

Tony Davis/CBC
Tony Davis/CBC

She said she chose the topic because of her deep family roots in the sport.

"My mother was the ambassador in 2007, my great-great grandfather … was the president of Red Shores driving park," she said. The project took her about two weeks to put together, and she's happy with the final product.

"I'm proud of how I designed it and how I added gold and everything. It just makes it pop, I think. I really like that."

'I learned a lot'

Alexander Yonchev and Ammar Al Rahhal also go to Spring Park and did a project on Africville, N.S. — a historic Black community on the outskirts of Halifax.

Tony Davis/CBC
Tony Davis/CBC

Al Rahhal said he was shocked to learn that Halifax city council voted to relocate residents and demolish the community back in the 1960s.

"I was interested in the project and I wanted to learn more about it, and I think people should have respect," he said.

Like his project partner, Yonchev said he wanted to research the history of Africville. He also liked learning about the people who were born and raised there.

Kylee Rafuse is a Grade 7 student at Georgetown Elementary. She did a project on the birthplace of hockey: Windsor, N.S.

"I play hockey, myself, so I think it was pretty interesting," she said. "I learned a lot."

Morgan Sheppard is in Grade 7 at Stonepark Intermediate. She did her project on Mi'kmaq and Acadian culture, and "how they really stayed together and helped each other throughout the deportations.

"It's really important about our culture, and the culture of the Island and our society at this point," Sheppard said.

'I didn't even know that shipwreck existed'

Serena MacDonald goes to Souris Regional School and did a project on the East Point Lighthouse.

Tony Davis/CBC
Tony Davis/CBC

"I chose this because I felt like it's an important part of P.E.I.'s history and I just started getting interested in lighthouses," she said.

One of her favourite parts of the project was taking the history, and all that she'd learned, and putting it together on the board for people to see.

"Something that I learned, that I didn't know before, was the whole HMS Phoenix — I didn't even know that shipwreck existed," she said.

Sophie Pitre and Sadie Arsenault go to Stonepark and their project was about LGBTQ+ history and rights in Canada.

"It's basically just telling the history of Canada and P.E.I., and who created the pride flags and descriptions of what homophobia and transphobia is like," Arsenault said.

Pitre said "people think it's a problem that's happening now, but it's been going on for decades and decades."

'It's a really fun day'

Charlotte Stewart, heritage officer and fair co-ordinator, said in absence of the heritage fair in past years they encouraged classrooms to host their own, "to keep the heritage fair alive."

She said the in-person heritage fair went well, and it was great to once again see students together talking about their projects.

"They're so excited to tell about their research that they've done, which is really nice to see," Stewart said.

"What I'm hearing today from teachers and the students themselves, and our committee of course, we'd love to see the big fair again — just so that more people can participate and have fun, because it's a really fun day."

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