Société Historique Généalogique de Smoky River (SHGSR,) in Donnelly played host to approximately 60 French immersion students from École Montrose in Grande Prairie on February 16.
The students, divided into three groups visited the Society at different intervals throughout the day.
While visiting SHGSR the kids participated in a number of research, genealogical and personal history activities, which were setup at six stations with the kids spending 15 minutes at each one.
Obviously enthusiastic about their visit to the Society, the kids arrived remarkably well prepared in regards to researching their family histories and eager to learn more with the assistance of SHGSR volunteers.
Ben Desrosiers assisted the kids with online family research, something the kids particularly enjoy so Desrosiers was kept really busy throughout the day.
The station on paleography, the study of ancient and archaic writing systems presented by Wendy Gagnon was particularly intriguing.
Paleography is employed in deciphering and dating historical manuscripts. Gagnon had some beautiful examples of old writing systems and offered the kids a short but edifying presentation on the processes used to identify letters and decode manuscripts.
Given their rapt attention, it was obvious that the students found volunteer Normand Lagacé presentation video on DNA extremely compelling.
Elizabeth Bohnke offered a presentation at the pioneers and First Nations’ station giving a background on the realities faced by those who came here as settlers , such as her maternal grandfather who left Illinois and she also spoke about the Aboriginal communities in the region.
Yvonne Sawchyn facilitated the station with the books, resources and memorial cards at the Genealogical Society, doing family research with the students.
Four teacher and approximately twenty parents accompanied the students on the field trip.
“The parents enjoy seeing their kids learning in French, socializing in French, living in French,” says Montrose teacher Chantal Gallant who organizes the field trip. “The goal for the kids is for them to recognize that the French as a second language is much more that that just a language they are learning in school, but that they can actually live in French.”
The Ecole Montrose field trip is made possible through a partnership between Grande Prairie Public School District (GPSD) and the Conseil de Développement Économique (CDÉ) in Falher.
The GPSD’s French coordinator Ginette Pelé, and Diane Chiasson, of the CDÉ looked after the logistics and created the itinerary for the Montrose field trip to the region.
As in former years, the Montrose students wrapped up their visit to the region by spending a few hours at the Carnaval de St-Isidore on Saturday, February 17.