Teacher unhappy with my heritage moment


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It doesn’t take much effort on my part to get teachers upset with me, sometimes no effort at all, and it feels as though it’s often when I set out to do a positive story.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 07/05/2015 (2944 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It doesn’t take much effort on my part to get teachers upset with me, sometimes no effort at all, and it feels as though it’s often when I set out to do a positive story.

You’ll read elsewhere in our enormous multi-media-digital-interwebthingee-and-dead-trees news universe about the Red River Heritage Fair, and about the Grade 9 student with whom I led my story, Alyssa Richard, who was celebrating the history of gay rights in Manitoba.

Alyssa is a Grade 9 student at Ecole McIsaac School in Flin Flon, and she was proudly wearing a cape of the rainblow flag that heralds the LGBT community.

And one veteran teacher whom I’ve seen at the heritage fair for many years, first gave me grief because I hadn’t attended in a couple of years — I expect to get that; as a history major and a lowly proletarian drone I have not always been able to persuade my betters to treat the heritage fair the same as the provincial science fair.

But the teacher then told me very sternly that Alyssa’s project  was not a heritage project, and that the organizers want my story to be about heritage… and promptly told me to go over and interview a student about the Manitoba connection to the Titanic.

I’m not budging on this. Teachers can complain to Big Editor (not his real name) if they wish, and they can post comments online dumping on my story, if they wish.

These fairs produce a lot of the familiar in our collective history and heritage, though what’s familiar to me is not necessarily familiar to the young students discovering people and issues through their projects… though sometimes there could be less of simply taking a topic and downloading from the internet.

Then there are the kids who conduct real research and show a flair for innovation, and the innate curiosity that makes learning such a delight.

The development of gay rights is very much a part of Manitoba and Canadian heritage, and as Alyssa found, it’s only in very recent years that we have done anything in which we have a right to take pride.

When I was her age — when many teachers far younger than I were Alyssa’s age — Canada was openly and institutionally homophobic, discrimination and hate were the norm, and many Canadians dared not be the person that nature had meant them to be. That’s our history as a people, that is a part of our heritage, though for our children and grandchildren, it will be ancient history, and proof that people can learn from history.

A lot of people don’t know that history, but if they were at the heritage fair and stopped by Alyssa’s project and discovered how and when Canadians embraced gay rights, they learned some Canadian heritage.

And wasn’t that the point?

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