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Connecting with history

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, February 3, 2011

LIIDLII KUE/FORT SIMPSON - Inez Fantasque knows a lot about bannock.

NNSL photo/graphic

Angus Capot-Blanc of Fort Liard is one of four students who will be representing the Deh Cho at the Pan-Territorial Heritage Fair Showcase in Yellowknife. - photo courtesy of Kiatch Nahanni

Fantasque, 11, began making bannock with her grandmother Eva Hope in Fort Liard when she was young. It was this early experience that influenced Fantasque to do her Heritage Fair project on the tasty treat.

Dene people used to cook bannock on rocks if they didn't have a frying pan but a lot has changed. Now you can have whole-wheat bannock or add raisins, she said.

Fantasque will be able to share her knowledge in Yellowknife because she's one of four students chosen to represent the Deh Cho at the Pan-Territorial Heritage Fair Showcase from Feb. 16 to 20. The other winners include Angus Capot-Blanc of Fort Liard and Meegwun Cazon and Teagan Zoe-Hardisty of Fort Simpson.

Each of the students first displayed projects at their school's Heritage Fairs. Students can base their project on any topic with a Canadian historical context, said Brian Jaffray, the president of the NWT Heritage Fair Society.

In the Deh Cho there's a focus on culturally relevant topics that students are connected to. Research done with local individuals and with inter-generational contact is encouraged, Jaffray said.

"I think it brings history alive for the kids," he said.

The top students from each school, which this year included those in Fort Liard, Jean Marie River and Fort Simpson, competed against each other at the regional fair in Fort Simpson on Jan. 21. All of the 21 students had great projects, Jaffray said.

The projects by students from Jean Marie River, were particularly good, he said. The students did taped interview with elders asking them about the history of Jean Marie River and how the community has changed.

At the regional fair each student was judged on their project's appearance, the quality and depth of their research, their personal connection to their project and the presentation they gave on it.

Angus Capot-Blanc wowed the judges with his project on his grandfather who was a Dene medicine man.

Angus, 9, said he knew little about his grandfather Napolean Capot-Blanc until he started asking his dad about him for the project.

"I learned everything about him," Angus said.

Napolean spoke eight different languages and was a drummer. As a medicine man he helped heal people who were sick. For headaches he would burn the fungus from a black willow and have the patient breathe in the smoke, Angus said.

"It was fun," Angus said about doing the project.

In Yellowknife the students from the Deh Cho will be presenting alongside students from all three of the territories.

This is the first time that students from across the North have come together for the showcase.

Jaffray hopes to see the participation in the Heritage Fairs spread to more Deh Cho schools next year.

"It's really cool when they (students) connect to their place both in the present and in the past," he said.

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