Jonathan goes to Rideau Hall
Monday, January 20th, 2020 was a special day for Jonathan LaValley. He and his mother flew to Ottawa. It’s not every Canadian that gets a personal invitation to Rideau Hall. It is indeed an honour. This young, then grade eight, student from the Oneida of the Thames nation was one of six students, chosen from more than one hundred competitors from across Canada whittled down from large regional and provincial Heritage Fairs held in 2019. The reward: a trip to Ottawa and the annual Canada's History Forum.
Jonathan beside a section of the Vimy Trench at
the Elgin Military Museum, January 2020.
It’s a very big deal. While statistics for Jonathan’s field in 2019 are not available yet, in 2018, there were 56,000 competitors in this competition! Jonathan’s chosen topic was the impact of Indigenous people in the First World War. He knew his great grandfather, Manson Archie Ireland, had served as an engineer in the Second World War and Jonathan wondered if any relatives had served during the Great War. As a member of the Turtle Clan, research and the pursuit of knowledge is, to use a modern phrase, part of his DNA. Last year he came to the Elgin Military Museum in St. Thomas to do some of his research and we were thrilled when he returned in early January 2020 to give us an update on his success and to thank us for our help. Jonathan is now in High School but still finds time to share his knowledge with students in schools around the region.
The Cherry on the Cake?
Was the trip to Ottawa the cherry on the cake? Maybe. Being one of six out of a field of tens of thousands is definitely a confidence builder and the opportunity to meet other students from across Canada in the nation’s capital is certainly awe inspiring. Your friends at the Elgin Military Museum extend heartfelt congratulations. From our point of view, the cherry is the infectious rush – that magic moment when you get caught up in something that is no longer just research but a quest. The ideas tumble out about all the different paths to follow and it is exciting to be able to share this with others. We wish Jonathan many more magic moments.
About Heritage Fairs
Heritage Fairs have been part of the Canadian student’s environment since 1993. Originally supported and encouraged by the CRB Foundation and then The Historica Foundation; today it is growing and expanding under the guidance of Canada’s History Society. Students may choose their topic and the medium they use to communicate their research. Then they share their work in public exhibitions (Heritage Fairs) thereby expanding their public skills while the ripples of knowledge spread out over the region.
The War Memorial at Oneida of the Thames
The war memorial at the Oneida of the Thames centre. Jonathan's great grandfather was a driving force behind getting this monument established to honour those who served in the Great War, WW II, Korea, Vietnam and the Army of Occupation (Germany after WWII).
The Oneida people are known within the Iroquois Confederacy as Onyota’a:ka, “People of the Standing Stone.” The Oneida of the Thames nation is located twenty minutes north west of St. Thomas, ON . The website indicates that today there are 2,172 residents and the nation has a total membership of 6,270.