Contest recognizes efforts of local students

Vernon’s Cole Strilchuk and Cameron Fraser-Monroe are finalists in national contest that honours milestones in history

When 200 students from across Canada were given video cameras to share the historic milestones that matter to them, the results were education, creative and inspiring.

A Harwood elementary school student’s Truth or Dare style history video is now one step closer to a national screening in Ottawa. Through the video camera’s lens, Cameron Fraser-Monroe guides Canadians through the life and times of NDP Opposition leader Jack Layton.

Cameron’s in-depth journey, Jack Layton: Your Decision/Ton Decision, features Layton’s biggest failures, greatest successes and most daring actions and then encourages Canadians to vote on which one they think is Layton’s most daring political decisions. Cameron’s video, submitted for Canada’s History Young Citizens program, garnered so many cyber ballots that he is now closer to winning one of six trips to Ottawa.

Cameron and Kidston school student Cole Strilchuk, who retraced the journey of a B.C. teacher who trekked across 33 countries in 469 days for mental health youth programs in Michael Schratter: One Pedal at a Time, are just two of 30 students being recognized nationally for learning history through filmmaking.

From coast to coast, 200 students spent countless hours interviewing important people in their city as well as filming historical milestones that mattered most to them and their community. This inaugural project, supported by Great-West Life and the Department of Canadian Heritage through the Youth Take Charge program, connected students from Grades 4 to 11 to historic moments by encouraging them to research, role-play and digitally record short documentaries or news items that showcased their research projects and how it connected them to their culture and heritage. This year’s 30 finalists come from every province and territory and shared topics ranging from the Canadian Wheat Board to Canada’s Tarnished History of Civil Rights, to the invention of the Jolly Jumper.

“Through their efforts, these students have taken ownership of these stories that have shaped the culture and heritage of their communities and our country,” said Deborah Morrison, CEO and publisher of Canada’s History Magazine. “They’ve made a connection to the past that goes beyond anything they could learn from a textbook, and we hope it has sparked a deeper interest in history that they explore for years to come.”

Students say this hands-on style of learning excites them.

“This project has really connected me to history in Canada,” said Cameron. “Every time I looked at one of the projects created by other Young Citizens, I saw how rich our history is.

“My peers have really brought the historic places, people and events I had heard of to life.”

A national panel of judges will now review the 30 videos and have the difficult task of selecting six winners. The six final Young Citizens will receive a trip to Ottawa to participate in the Governor General’s History Awards at Rideau Hall in December where their videos will be showcased at the National History Forum. To view the entries and contest winners, visit www.YoungCitizens.ca.

Canada’s History Society is a national charitable organization devoted to popularizing Canadian history. In addition to presenting the Governor General’s History Awards and publishing Canada’s History (formerly The Beaver) magazine, as well as Kayak: Canada’s History Magazine for Kids, the society also produces a number of educational and online programs to encourage more discovery, celebration, and understanding about our rich history and culture. More details can be found at www.canadashistory.ca