When eleven-year-old Rahel Kramm began thinking of a topic to base her project on for this year’s Vernon and District Heritage Fair, she said one person “jumped out” at her — Judy Cameron.
“She was the first Canadian woman pilot to fly for Air Canada. And the second woman to fly for a Canadian airline,” Kramm explained.
“I think she’s pretty cool. Before her, pilots were mostly men.”
Through her project, Kramm, who is in Grade 6 at Harwood Elementary School, learned that Cameron was hired by the airline in 1978, when she was 24 years-old, promoted to captain in 1997 and in 2010 became the first female captain in Canada of a Boeing 777. In 2015, she was awarded the Elsie MacGill Northern Lights Award.
Cameron retired her wings on Ma7 24, 2015, after a 37-year career with Air Canada, in which she had logged 23,000 flying hours.
Kramm’s project was one of 43 on display at the Heritage Fair, which was held April 13 at the Schubert Centre. The annual event included students in grades four to seven from five Vernon schools, and is designed to encourage students to “be curious, explore and celebrate Canadian history through many different mediums while developing a deep understanding of the present by engaging with and questioning the past.”
Participating students are asked to choose a topic, conduct research, develope a thesis and present their work in the form of an exhibit and include a research paper.
For his project on the Komagata Maru inccident, 11-year-old Joban Panag, turned to a local researcher’s work for some of the background he needed, and was given an opportunity to meet that researcher at Friday’s event.
The incident involved the Japanese steamship, Komagata Maru on which a group of citizens of the British Raj attempted to emigrate to Canada in 1914, but were denied entry.
The Komagata Maru sailed from British Hong Kong, via Shanghai, China, and Yokohama, Japan, to Vancouver, in 1914, carrying 376 passengers from Punjab. Of them, 24 were admitted to Canada and the other 352 passengers were not allowed to disembark in Canada, and the ship was forced to return to India.
Panag said he chose the topic because it was interesting and sad.
“The point of learning about this stuff is to make sure it doesn’t get repeated,” he said.
Through his research, Panag, who is in Grade 5 at Mission Hill Elementary School, learned about a lawyer involved in the incident named William Ladner, who is buried in Pleasant Valley cemetery.
Rather than use the popular online site, Ancestry.com to learn about his subject, Panag said he turned to the work of Gilda Koenig of the Vernon and District Family History Society.
Koenig was onsite Friday afternoon and was able to see the results of her work displayed in the students’ project.
After briefly chatting with Panag, Koenig said she was impressed with the young student’s ingenuity and research.
“Alot of students go online to find out about their subjects, but there are a lot of local sources for them, like, (for example) the Vernon and District Family History Society. I was really pleased to see some that Joban found us. We’re actually a great resource.”
Lesley Hayes, with the Vernon and District Heritage Fair Committee, said two awards were given out following the fair — Luke Gardiner was recieved a Students’ Choice award for his project on Michael J. Fox while the Peoples’ Choice award went to Cole Toponce, whose project was on Gord Downie. Both are in Grade 7 at Silver Star Elementary School.
Hayes said 25 students from the fair will go on to the regional fair in Kelowna on April 24, where two projects will be selected to move on to the provincial fair in Squamish.
The 2018 Vernon and District Heritage Fair is a project of the North Okanagan Optimist Club. For more information about the fair visit vernonheritagefair.org or Vernon Heritage Fair on Facebook. Information about the Optimist Club can be found at northokanaganoptimistclub.org and on Facebook.