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Tale nets student heritage award

Simon Whitehouse
Northern News Services
Published Friday, May 25, 2012

A Grade 5 student's history project about a Northern dentist who died tragically in boating accident 45 years ago has earned her this year's Yellowknife Heritage Award.

NNSL photo/graphic

Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo Kayla Sanderson holds up one of a number of black and white photographs sent to her by Marilyn Calder - widow of Ian Calder who died in Yellowknife 1967.

Kayla Sanderson was one of several Yellowknife students recognized during a city council meeting last week for their contributions in preserving the city's history at the 2012 Regional Learning Fair last month.

These heritage awards are not to be confused with the city heritage award given out in association with Heritage Week in February.

Sanderson, who goes to J.H. Sissons School, took top prize out of eight Yellowknife finalists with her project entitled, "Qui etait Ian Calder." The project focused on the life of the late Ian Calder, a dentist, photographer and canoeist who lived and worked in the Northwest Territories from the mid to late 1960s.

Sanderson's project stood out among more than 300 students from the Yk Education District No. 1, who presented heritage and science fair projects at the Regional Learning Fair, April 20 and 21.

The fair, which was held at K'alemi Dene School in Ndilo, featured the work of students from grades 4 to 8 compiled between January and late March. About two-thirds of the projects were heritage-based.

For Sanderson, the win came as a huge surprise.

"That was really exciting and I didn't quite think I was going to get in," she said, when asked how she felt about winning the city's prize this year.

"It was very interesting because you find out about people's lives."

Sanderson collected numerous photos, old newspaper articles and correspondence letters from Calder's widow Marilyn who now lives in New York City. This allowed her to establish a strong historical understanding of Calder, who drowned, along with Peter Bromley, during a canoeing accident on the Back River in 1967. Peter Bromley is the father of future Weledeh MLA Bob Bromley, who was also on the trip and was the sole survivor.

"What we were specifically impressed with was that Kayla went to primary sources and came up with a very unique project," said city heritage committee member Amanda Mallon, who was among the judges.

"She had different sources that were firsthand and the project really stood out."

Much of Sanderson's research also came from working with archivist Robin Weber of the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre. The museum provided Sanderson with newspaper articles and some photos. She also used interviews with Bob Bromley.

Sanderson said the main reason she decided to take the project on this year was because she was curious about the origin of her street - Calder Crescent. She learned the street was named after Ian and Marilyn Calder.

As Sanderson explained it, Calder was an important figure in the 1960s for being a dentist that served all of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. His photography skills allowed for many people and places to be documented throughout the years.

Sanderson subsequently went on to win the Primary Research Award at the territorial heritage showcase held at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Center earlier this month.

"I don't think I've seen this kind of project done so well," said Sanderson's teacher Monique Marinier.

Seven other heritage awards were also awarded by the city, including one for Jennifer Lalonde's project on the history of Buffalo Airways. Lalonde, Sanderson's classmate, chose the topic in part because her grandfather was a friend of, and used to work with the company's president "Buffalo" Joe McBryan.

"I learned Buffalo Airways has over 50 airplanes and they have a show called Ice Pilots," she said.

"We went out and took some photos in front of the planes and inside the planes and stuff, but we didn't get to see any old photos."

Ben Elkin won a heritage award for his project titled, "Backstage at Ptarmigan Ptheatrics." His involvement with the theater company, including the recent performance of Jekyll and Hyde, made him interested in studying the history of the group.

"It was just really interesting to learn the history of what I enjoy," said the Mildred Hall School student. He said his research involved a lot of interviews with people such as co-founder Kate Tomkins and current director Joy Williams.

"I've learned they've (Ptarmigan Theatrics) done over 20 shows in 20 years and has had two directors."

All eight participants this year received a book token and a prize for participation.

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