Teachers - you can now register your classes/schools to participate in the 2024 Heritage Fairs!

Frequently Asked Questions

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see also 7 Myths About Heritage Fairs Projects

Heritage Fairs - About Topics

Does the project have to be about family history, or specifically about Saskatchewan?

No, it can be about anything relating to Canada. Students are encouraged to choose a topic that they enjoy and want to learn more about. (Teachers do have the option to assign specific topics.)

When Heritage Saskatchewan says "has a connection to Canada", how are they defining "Canada" or "Canadian"?

(This is often phrased as: "What about topics that pre-date Confederation? What about areas that are now part of Canada, but were not at the time of the topic in question? What about topics that are connected to Canada, but also include what is now the USA and Mexico, or other countries?")

For the purposes of Heritage Fairs, anything has a connection to Canada if it took place in what is now Canada, involved people who lived in what is now Canada, involved non-humans (i.e. animals, plants, etc.) who lived in what is now Canada, or had a direct impact on Canada, no matter when.

Can the teacher assign specific topics?

Teachers can choose to assign specific topics if that works best for them or their class, and depending on how it fits into the curriculum. For example, sometimes teachers have had their whole class study local treaties, explorers, famous Saskatchewan people, or their students' family histories.

As a teacher, I want to let my students choose their own topics, but can I set specific parameters?

Yes. For example, you may choose to set boundaries like "athletes must be retired" or "no projects about pop culture", etc. However, these rules only apply to your class or school. Heritage Saskatchewan does not set any criteria like this.

What language can a student use for their project?

Because judges need to be able to understand a language in order to properly judge a project, Heritage Fairs projects are currently accepted in English or French. A project can also be bilingual in English & French, or be bilingual in either of those and another language. Students can also include words from other languages, along with translations, as part of their display and presentation. In order to have a project presented in any language other than English & French at the Regional or Provincial levels, the organisers of the Heritage Fair would need to have enough notice to find judges fluent in that language.

Students can submit projects to the Virtual Heritage Fair in any language. Regardless of whether or not the project is able to be judged, it will be showcased virtually. (Without sufficient notice, Heritage Saskatchewan cannot guarantee that a judge fluent in a language other than English or French will be available.)

How long ago did something have to happen, or how old does something have to be, before it is considered ‘heritage’?

Living Heritage is about the past, present, and future. It does not matter how old something is for it to be considered heritage.

Are science topics acceptable?

Absolutely. Science is a big part of our heritage.

As learning about local animals is part of the Grade 4 Science curriculum, for example, having students do a project on an animal with connections to North America is an option for a Heritage Fairs project.

What about sports? Artists? Movies? Does it matter how famous someone is?

Any of these could be potential topics, as long as they relate to Canada in some way. It does not matter how famous someone is or was. Someone who is very famous to a student might be someone that the judges have never heard about!

It does not matter how old or young someone is, whether or not they are alive, whether or not they are retired, or whether or not they have spent the majority of their career abroad, as long as they have a Canadian connection.

Students do not only have to pick people who are "good role models", especially as they get older and want to delve into more nuanced topics. Controversial aspects of a person can be addressed in the project (i.e. retired athletes who advocate against vaccination, people misrepresenting their ethnic background, etc.).

Can a student do a project about a fictional character or story?

Yes, as long as that character or story is connected to Canada. The character/story of Anne of Green Gables (as opposed to Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of Anne of Green Gables) is a popular choice.

Students are also welcome to present their topic in character (whether real or fictional), especially if they are presenting in pairs, as long as they do so respectfully and can still present their information succinctly.

If a student wants to create a fictional character or story of their own, they can enter it into the Virtual Heritage Fair's Creative Presentation category.

What about something that did not happen in Canada or is not entirely Canadian?

Many events that happened in other countries have a Canadian connection (such as a war that Canadians participated in). Anything that took place within and around what are now the borders of Canada are also acceptable, even if they primarily took place in what is now the United States (such as the Underground Railroad). Some people move away from Canada for their careers, such as actors, but they still have a connection to Canada. Non-Canadians who have lived in or partially live in Canada can also be acceptable topics.

However, students should make sure that the connection to Canada is readily apparent in their projects.

Can a student do a project about their family's heritage in another country?

Yes. The student and their family are themselves a connection to Canada.

Can a student do a project about another country (as a topic)?

Yes, but they need to make a connection to Canada in some way. For example, a student might want to do a project about a country that their ancestors used to live in. However, these students are at a disadvantage at the regional level because many of the questions that the judges will ask relate to connecting their topic to Canada. A better choice of topic would be to compare Canada to another country, discuss the trading relationships between Canada and another country, or the ongoing influence of another country on Canada.

If a student's project is not readily connected to Canada, the project will still be judged.

What if a student is still not sure if the topic that they are interested in studying fits into Heritage Fairs?

They can always check with their teacher. If their teacher is not sure either, either the student or the parent can check with Heritage Saskatchewan.

What if a topic is controversial?

If a teacher is uneasy about a topic being controversial, they should check with Heritage Saskatchewan. If a student does good research and is respectful in preparing their display and presentation, almost any topic relating to Canada is acceptable.

What if a topic, no matter how respectfully presented, would contain offensive material?

Some topics may contain offensive material regardless. For example, doing a project about the history of hate groups in Saskatchewan would likely mean having photographs of said hate groups in the project. These topics should be done very carefully, but they are still acceptable.

Students must be cautious and should avoid using shock value as part of their presentation. Older students in particular should be mindful that what might be age-appropriate for them is not necessarily so for younger participants and that visitors will include even younger children.

Heritage Saskatchewan does not want to censor any project, but reserves the right to ask a student to cover images or mute videos, especially if they are not actively presenting their project.

Has there been a shift in focus away from history?

Any shift (actual or perceived) of focus from exclusively on history to a broader range of topics reflects the current education curriculum, societal trends, and Heritage Saskatchewan's mandate. Historical thinking is a cornerstone of the Heritage Fairs program.

Is there anything that would be considered a "bad" topic?

There is no such thing as a "bad" topic, but a topic can be poorly handled. Also, a "bad" topic would be one which has no connection to Canada or wherein the connection to Canada cannot be readily inferred. This is why "Project Description" was added to the registration form for the Regional Fairs, as a title alone can be misleading.

Are any topics preferred over others?

All projects are judged on their own merits. Students are judged on their presentation, research, and critical thinking.

For some awards, projects may only be eligible if their topics fit into a certain category. Heritage Saskatchewan aims to have a broad range of topical award categories so that all projects fit within at least one of them.

Awards sponsored by third parties may also be limited to projects on specific topics.

Is it cultural appropriation if a student creates a Heritage Fairs project about a cultural group, or an aspect of a cultural group, that they are not a part of?

No, but the student needs to do good research and be respectful in their display and presentation. (In such cases, students should avoid costumes.) They must be mindful that members whichever cultural group they are depicting may be among the other students, chaperones, judges, and visitors.

If the student participates in an aspect of a cultural group (such as dance), wearing a uniform, costume, or regalia that they have earned in this capacity is entirely acceptable.

Is there anything to be avoided in a Heritage Fairs display or presentation?

Please avoid the following (for all Heritage Fair projects):

  • Black-/yellow-/red-face makeup [painting one’s face to look dirty to portray a miner, a railroad worker, a disaster victim, etc. is acceptable, as is painting one's face to look like a clown or mime]
  • Sexualised costumes
  • Racist/sexist phrases, cartoons, videos, or models (without historical context)
  • Content expressing overt, non-historical racism, sexism, anti-2SLGBTQ+ views, etc.
  • Links to content (i.e. websites) expressing overt, non-historical racism, sexism, anti-2SLGBTQ+ views, etc.

For in-person Heritage Fairs, please also avoid:

  • Food
  • Loud audio that drowns out neighbouring students (bring headphones for judges or visitors to view an audio-visual project)
  • Heirlooms or artefacts that cannot be replaced or would be permanently damaged if they get broken, wet, or dirty
  • Items that would make a mess if broken, such as a bag of grain or anything involving liquid (if you want to include these in a model or as part of your display, make sure to have cleaning supplies with you, like paper towels or a dustpan)
  • Large items, especially anything longer or wider than 4ft (1.5m)
  • Anything that needs to be attached to a wall
No food at all?

Students can include food as display items only if it relates to their project.

Due to rules about food safety as well as food around museum displays, food cannot be served in samples. Individually-wrapped candies may be acceptable, but should be avoided.

To display food, use empty packaging, sealed packaging, photos, or models. If the food appears edible, such as a loaf of ornamental bread, please include a "Display Only" sign.

Can students include games and quizzes in their presentation? Can they offer prizes?

Yes, but please avoid using candy as a prize. Students can also provide something for judges (or visitors and other students) to take home as a souvenir.

What happens if a student brings a project (or parts of their display) that does not fit into their allotted space?

This is up to each individual Regional Fair committee's discretion at the Regional Fairs and up to Heritage Saskatchewan at the Provincial Fair.

If a project is too large, it might not be able to be displayed properly. Organisers are not obliged to accommodate oversized projects.

If a teacher or parent asks in advance, it is easier for organisers to accommodate a project. If a project is within the size requirements but is an unusual shape (like a display that is meant to be placed on the ground rather than on a table), organisers could accommodate this with advanced notice, such as putting the project at the end of a row of tables.

Also, please be mindful that students are not entitled to extra space merely because the projects around them are smaller or narrower. At the Regional Fairs, each space is marked out with tape. Please get permission from your neighbour before letting anything cross the tape!

For the Provincial Fair, if one is making changes to one's project in terms of size, please ask Heritage Saskatchewan in advance if it can be accommodated.

What about copyright infringement?

As an educational project, Heritage Fairs falls under “fair dealing” for copyright purposes. Therefore, as long as students document their sources and give credit for photos, video clips, etc., their projects are not infringing on copyright.

For more information, see our Plagiarism & Copyright page.

Can students include copyrighted music in their projects?

Music in general at the in-person Heritage Fairs should only be included if the topic is music-related. Audio clips, video clips, music to accompany a dance demonstration, or the student performing are all acceptable.

However, music and other loud noises are distracting to neighbouring students and judges, so students must be mindful of their neighbours, especially if they are singing or dancing. For audio or video clips, consider having headphones for the judges.

As long as credit is given, music falls under “fair dealing” if it is part of a video or audio clip in a project about the performers or writers of that music. It also falls under “fair dealing” if the student sings the song or a portion thereof, or if the student parodies the song.

Music does not fall under “fair dealing” if it is being featured in a project on a topic unrelated to the performers or writers, especially if it is just as background music. For example, a clip of “My Heart Will Go On” is fair use in a project about Celine Dion (the song’s singer), but not in a project about the Titanic disaster. Students can obtain written permission from the copyright holder of any piece of music, but they are encouraged to use royalty-free music.

What about non-student-produced videos, such as Heritage Minutes? Can students include these in their projects?

Yes. As long as credit is given (especially if the clip is linked from the project directly to the copyright holder’s website or social media channel), students can include videos or video clips that they did not produce themselves. These also fall under "fair dealing".

 

Heritage Fairs - About the Program

Can students work in partners or groups?

Two students working together in partners are fine, but groups of three or more are strongly discouraged for the in-person Heritage Fairs. This is because of space limitations in the venues. For the Virtual Fair, groups of three or four are fine.

Can students outside of grades four through eight participate?

Students not in grades 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8 may present at their local school Heritage Fair only. Prior to 2014, the program included grade nine. We have eliminated that grade at the competition level because grade nine students are considered to be part of the high school curriculum in Saskatchewan.

Students in grades 3 or 9 who are part of a split-grade class participating in Heritage Fairs can participate along with their classmates. (see answers to questions below)

In the case of grade 3/4 classes, what happens if students in grades three and four partner together for a project?

While grade three students are otherwise ineligible to advance past their school fair, a grade three student who is partnered with a grade four student in the same class may advance with their partner. In that case, the student must be registered as being in the same eligible grade as their partner - so for the purpose of the Heritage Fair, they will be considered to be in grade four and judged accordingly, which may be a disadvantage considering their young age.

Grade 3 students are eligible to enter the Virtual Heritage Fair without being in a partner project. They are judged alongside grade 4 students.

In the case of combined grade 8/9 classes in rural schools, what happens if students in grades eight and nine partner together for a project?

Neither student will be disqualified from participating if their school chooses to send their project to a Regional Fair. Both students must be registered as grade 8 students. Regional Heritage Fair committees reserve the right to exclude the project from advancing to the Provincial level in favour of a project done exclusively by grade eight students.

Since 2014 (when grade 9 was first excluded), having a grade 9 and grade 8 student paired together has not resulted in an unfair advantage to the students.

Students in grade 9 can submit their projects to the Virtual Fair to be showcased (i.e. not judged).

Are essays/written reports required?

It is up to individual teachers whether or not their students need to prepare an essay (rather than a written report or project outline). As long as students present their projects and document their sources, they do not need to include an essay. At the Regional and Provincial levels, judges do not have time to read either an essay or a written report.

(At the Moose Jaw Regional Heritage Fair, there has sometimes been a local award for essays. Teachers are responsible for submitting essays for this award in advance, and participation in this capacity is entirely optional.)

Can a student participate independently?

Yes - an independent student and their teacher (or parent) must make arrangements with their local Regional Heritage Fair Committee to have their project judged prior to being accepted for the Regional Heritage Fair. Contact Heritage Saskatchewan or check out this link for further details on independent students.

Independent students are also strongly encouraged to participate in the Virtual Heritage Fair.

Does a whole class have to participate?

No. The overall number of participating students from a class (or school) determines how many can attend the Regional Heritage Fair. It is perfectly fine for less than a whole class to participate. Some schools have created a Heritage Fair Club in the past (ranging from 6-12 students).

There is no Regional Heritage Fair in my community and no tradition of Heritage Fairs in my school division. Can my students still participate?

Yes. When they register, teachers need to declare which Regional Fair they want their students to attend. Usually, this is the closest Regional Fair geographically or with the most accessible/direct road.

Anyone interested in having a Heritage Fair in their school or community can contact Heritage Saskatchewan about participating in the program. It is possible to have students advance directly from a local fair to the Provincial Fair if arrangements are made in advance. (This is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.) 

The Virtual Fair is open for students anywhere in the province, and teachers/parents are encouraged to enter their students in that contest. It can be a great way to start and get familiar with the experience of creating and presenting a project without the pressure of organising a whole event or travelling to a Regional Fair.

How are students chosen to attend the Regional Heritage Fair?

The respective Regional Heritage Fair committees determine how many students per school can attend each Regional Heritage Fair based on the total number of students participating from each school. (These numbers are taken from teachers' registrations.) Note that the committees take the total numbers per school, not per class. It is up to the individual schools to determine how to assign their allotted spots to each class, if they wish to do so. Schools can host a school-wide Heritage Fair to determine their winners; they can also choose their winners from each participating class. This is up to the participating teachers from each school.

How much work is required from participating teachers?

Teachers need to provide support for their students: introduce them to the topics, guide them in their research, etc. Teachers also need to register online with Heritage Saskatchewan and then register their students who are advancing to the Regional Heritage Fair. It is ultimately up to the teacher how much they want to be involved.

Do teachers need to be chaperones at the Regional and/or Provincial Heritage Fairs?

At least one teacher (or education assistant) from each school should attend the Regional Heritage Fair as a chaperone. Most Regional Heritage Fair committees stipulate that one teacher from each school attend as a chaperone, even if there are only two or three students participating. (Chaperones of independent students do not need to be teachers.)

For the Provincial Heritage Fair, any school that has two or more finalists needs to provide a chaperone associated with that school, but this does not have to be a teacher - it could be a parent, adult family member of a student, education assistant, or administrator as well.

If a teacher misses the registration deadline for teachers, can their students still participate?

If a teacher misses the teacher-registration deadline (usually early February), it is always still possible for them to have a local school fair. However, it is at the discretion of the relevant Regional Heritage Fair committee whether or not the school or class would be allowed to participate any further.

If a teacher misses the registration deadline for students for the Regional Heritage Fairs, can their students still participate?

This is at the discretion of the relevant Regional Heritage Fair committee. The committees and Heritage Saskatchewan all want what is best for the students, but the deadlines are in place to ensure that the program runs smoothly.

Does Heritage Saskatchewan have any authority over the Regional Heritage Fair committees when it comes to registration deadlines?

Heritage Saskatchewan is responsible for the program overall and the Provincial Heritage Fair. Heritage Saskatchewan will provide guidance, but will not overrule any decision about registration deadlines that a committee makes.

Is there any appeal process if a student was (or seemed to be) judged unfairly?

No - all decisions made at each Heritage Fair are final. No matter how large or small the event, committee members cannot be omnipresent and must trust the judges' evaluations. Every effort is made to ensure a fair and equitable judging process.

Teachers, parents, other chaperones, or judges can discuss an issue of unfairness (actual or perceived) with the relevant Regional Committee and with Heritage Saskatchewan to make recommendations for future years. If necessary, an official apology to the student will be issued.

Is it equitable if a large proportion of award winners or Provincial finalists are from the same school?

Award winners are determined with great care and attention. Representation of participating schools is one of the many factors taken into consideration, but students' scores and the content of students' presentations (as well as the criteria for each award) are given more weight. The last thing anyone wants is for a student to feel that they won their award due to tokenism rather than merit.

Provincial finalists are determined by their Regional Heritage Fair scores. It is thus possible that a large number can be from the same school, while other schools are "shut out" of the list of finalists, even if they had the largest number of participants at the Regional Fair. There is no intention on the part of any committee members, judges, or Heritage Saskatchewan staff to favour or discriminate against particular schools.

What about the fact that French-immersion students can be underrepresented in the award winners and Provincial finalists?

Every effort is made to ensure a fair and equitable judging process. However, communication is one of the elements that students are being evaluated on, so a student's command of the language of their project remains a factor in how they are judged. (Judges are reminded that students may be presenting in their second or third language and are advised to take this into account.) The proportion of French-language projects compared to the number of projects overall is also a factor in how many win awards or advance to the Provincial Heritage Fair.

Is it fair to have committee members whose students are also participating in the Regional Heritage Fairs?

If a committee member has students participating in the Heritage Fair, that committee member will not take part in the awards selection process.

Is there a National Heritage Fair?

Unfortunately, no, there is no longer a National Heritage Fair. For the Young Citizens contest, which is run nationally by Canada's History Society and associated with Heritage Fairs, see here.

How does Heritage Saskatchewan choose students to talk at events elsewhere about their Heritage Fairs experience?

Students are chosen based on whether they won an award at the Provincial Heritage Fair (or were chosen as Young Citizens winners) and their geographic proximity to the event, as well as their availability.