When we were asked to present a project that would allow students to implement any of the components of historical thinking, specifically the use of sources, the Heritage cubes exhibition project came to mind. To illustrate this, a student’s research experience that particularly impressed me will be shared.

First, it is important to indicate that the Heritage cubes exhibition is a project resulting from participation in a photography contest: Capture your heritage. From the work done for the contest, the students are led to elaborate a travelling exhibition (municipalities and schools of the Rimouski region) which highlights their view on the heritage of their region. This enhances the meaning of their participation in the contest, recognizes their commitment and raises awareness among the population of the territory about the importance of the contribution of the past to present-day communities.

This project is even more important as Quebec is increasingly faced with the challenge of preserving its heritage. Students are engaged in a reflection that leads them to determine what is part of heritage, to identify how it defines us, to discover what it can teach us, to reflect on the relevance of its preservation, etc.

To answer these questions, students are asked to document the object in their photograph. Each student documents to provide context for the chosen heritage object and explain why it is important. The sources used are varied but are generally limited to gathering testimonials and using various books. This year, one student took the experiment much further. Surprising information about regatta races held on a local lake in the 1950s and 1960s led him to verify the memories of elderly people. To do so, he obtained access to the archives of his municipality and unearthed various documents including press clippings. What joy and pride he had when he shared these finds confirming that the lake has indeed hosted regatta races.

Finally, the experience of participating in the competition and the exhibition project allows students to apply various markers of historical thinking, including historical significance and evidence. Their reflections give meaning to the learning of history. One of them concludes his reflection on heritage and the importance of preserving it by saying that “what makes a nation is its heritage, its language, etc.”

A video presentation of the project made by a student.

Remi Lavoie is a teacher in Rimouski, Quebec