Heritage heroes are the school kids who honour Red Deer’s fallen soldiers and seniors who volunteer at Sunnybrook Farm.
Janet Pennington, heritage community development co-ordinator at City of Red Deer, believes all kinds of people are making Red Deer’s cultural life richer by preserving aspects of local heritage — whether it’s renovating a historic home, saving oral history, or researching past events.
There’s a way to recognize this “passion,” devotion and volunteerism. Starting the first week of March, nominations will be taken for the Red Deer Heritage Recognition Awards. These are given out every second year to recognize outstanding efforts in heritage preservation, education and awareness within the City of Red Deer and Red Deer County.
But Pennington admitted the awards have been a tough sell, with few nominations submitted some years. She suggested a broader interpretation of qualifying criteria, since past nominees have ranged widely.
There were the Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School students who researched the lives of some of Red Deer’s fallen First and Second World War soldiers, visited their graves in Normandy, and then put up pictorial memorials on a school wall.
There was Irene Verhaeghe, a long-time volunteer with the local Ukrainian, Scandinavian and Pattern Dance Clubs, and Mary Joan Cornett helped with an oral history project, volunteered her help with genealogy and at the city archives.
Among other past winners is Don Hepburn, a decades-long member of the Red Deer River Naturalists and Red Deer museum volunteer, who also ran the Historic Red Deer tour for 15 years. And there’s Bernice Anderson, who’s been giving her time since 1974 with various groups, including the Danish-Canadian Cultural Centre and Stephan G. Stephansson Icelandic Society.
Pennington said “heritage” can mean preserving some natural parkland, or being involved in visual or performing arts, or even taking part in a school or youth group project about the past.
Nominations can be made in four categories: Those who protect or preserve built and natural heritage; Advocates and heritage educators; Youth heritage advocates; and a Lifetime Achievement Award, presented to those who made “significant” voluntary contributions to heritage over many years.
The Red Deer Heritage Recognition Awards were established in 2002 by the Heritage Preservation Committee, an Advisory Committee to city council. They will be given out in the fall. For more information, please visit www.reddeer.c or call 403-309-6270.