There are only four provinces in Canada — and B.C. is not one of them — where students are required to complete a history course in order to graduate from high school.
James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, shared that piece of information during a stop in Fort Langley on Friday morning.
The bedrock of Canada is a shared knowledge of the nation’s history and heritage among its citizens, continued Moore as he announced more than $12 million in federal funding over the next two years for Young Canada Works — Heritage Programs.
By topping up salaries paid to students — and recent graduates — between 15 and 30 years old, the program is expected to create 2,500 summer and short-term jobs, including 1,900 in small and medium-sized museums, including Langley Centennial Museum, where Moore made the announcement during what has been dubbed the first Canada History Week.
While Moore spent the week — which is being modeled on November’s annual Veterans’ Week — visiting historic sites across the country, including Pier 21 (where Canada’s national museum of immigration is located) and the Citadel National Historic Site in Halifax, he noted that it is smaller museums like Langley’s which tell unique, local stories.
Moore followed the announcement with a tour of the nearby Fort Langley National Historic Site, with Langley MP Mark Warawa.
In researching his own family history, Moore, who represents the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam, discovered that his great grandfather is buried in Fort Langley.
As the country approaches its 150th birthday in 2017, young Canadians need to know the story of John A. MacDonald’s national dream and the legacy of Terry Fox, as well as their own local and personal history, said Moore.
The YCW money offers students, who are “largely not taught history in classrooms,” a chance at a hands-on education, he said.
“We need to protect our history. It’s a great jewel.”
Museums are the ideal place to do just that, said Peter Tulumello, the LCM’s cultural services manager, as he expressed thanks for the program funding.
“Museums today are not just a storehouse of dusty old relics,” he said.
Over the years the Young Canada Works funding has allowed the Langley museum to develop new programs, mount exhibits and document its own collection of historic local artifacts.
The museum’s Arts and Heritage Curator, Kobi Christian, got her start through the YCW program. And this year, three more students are following in her footsteps at the museum.
Among them is Kailey Erickson, a museum assistant in the facility’s education program. The University of the Fraser Valley student described herself as a direct beneficiary of the program not only because the funding covers a portion of her salary, but because, through it, she has been given an opportunity that has “helped to galvanize and further my goals” toward a career museum work.