Culture, technology make ideal pilot site
by Deana Stokes Sullivan. The Telegram


November 27, 1997. Copyright © 1997, The Telegram. Reprinted with permission. The Telegram can be reached on the web at www.thetelegram.com

Thomas Axworthy, executive director of the CRB Foundation, describes Newfoundland as "a place where heritage comes alive in everyone's conversation."

So what better place for a pilot project, creating the first national historic website to eventually lead to widespread historical links throughout the country by 2000?

The availability of communications technology in Newfoundland, combined with the province's heightened awareness of culture, has made it an ideal location, Axworthy said Tuesday.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Web Site, which was officially opened during a ceremony Tuesday, is a Joint project of Memorial University's Smallwood Centre for Newfoundland Studies and the CRB Foundation, named after Charles R. Bronfman.

Bronfman and his wife, Andrea, established the family foundation in Montreal. In 1991, along with the help of other corporations and organizations They launched a heritage project.

The foundation is probably best known for its heritage minutes, short film strips aired on television about events in Canadian history.

But its heritage project has four components - media, outreach, education and new technologies.

In the area of technology, Axworthy said, Newfoundland schools are probably the best linked across the country.

The goal of the foundation's Canada 2000 initiative is to see heritage web sites established in 2,000 Canadian neighborhoods.

Work on the Newfoundland website began in February. A faculty member with The Smallwood Centre serves, as site editor, while undergraduate students have been hired as assistants on a variety of grants.

The site contains six main categories - natural environment, aboriginal peoples, exploration and settlement, law and government, society and the arts.

Its aim is to provide students and the public with a wide range of information on the province's history, culture and geography.

Getting youth involved in learning about their history is also the main goal of the CRB foundation's heritage fair program.

But Axworthy said, the heritage fairs involve "hands-on learning."

"Young people get involved in their own heritage," he said. "The kids and Schools really throw themselves into it."

Last year, Newfoundland students came up with "tremendous projects," he said, some focusing on the fishery and local cuisine. There were students who were excellent musicians and dancers who demonstrated their talents as part of the overall fair, said Axworthy.

Newfoundland students are now preparing to host the second heritage fair next May.

More than 50,000 people participated in exhibitions this year in about 30 communities throughout the country.

The goal is to increase annual participation to about 150,000, said Axworthy.

Each province will select 15 students to represent them at a national exhibition.

During a visit to the province this week, Axworthy said, he also intended to visit archeological sites on the Southern Shore, including Ferryland and Bay Bulls, to get possible ideas for The CRB's heritage minutes.

He said more than 100 ideas have been submitted to the foundation from across the country. To date, the foundation has produced 60 heritage minutes.

More information about the heritage fairs can be obtained by calling 1-800- 567-1867.

The Newfoundland website can be reached at the URL address of www.heritage.nf.ca.

Sidebar updated April, 2007.

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