Historical Lambton leaders highlighted in video project

High Park school students have been working to help bring local history to light.

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High Park school students have been working to help bring local history to light.

Grade 4-8 students at the Sarnia school have been working since March with former Sarnia-Lambton illustrator and author Mike Collier, who goes by the pen name Mickey Maple, to create videos about Lambton’s heroes of the past under the Young Canuckstorian: Hometown Heroes project.

Seeing the heroic work of front-line workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Collier, who also works for Bruce Power, said he was inspired to tell the stories of Lambton’s historical community leaders – people such as the Sarnia Women’s Conservation Art Association’s Sadie Knowles, sports broadcaster Roy Caley and Florence’s Deo Suzuki, who earned the Ontario Medal of Good Citizenship in 1980.

“It’s always kind of bothered me that a lot of these fantastic community leaders really went without proper promotion or without any sort of accolades whatsoever,” said Collier.

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“And so I thought this is a perfect opportunity to first touch on the history of Lambton County, which is near and dear to my heart, and let’s talk about community leaders because they need to be recognized and the need to be remembered, especially during these times during this pandemic.”

With information from the Lambton County Archives, students were tasked with writing and voicing scripts for the videos, most of which are two to three minutes long.

Collier, a graduate of Lambton College’s radio and television journalism program, then produced the animation.

The hope is the videos will continue to be used to teach and be available as a historical resource via places like the archives, he said.

“Surprisingly for some of these individuals who’ve had such a lasting impact on the community, there’s not a lot of information out there,” said the archives’ archivist and supervisor Nicole Aszalos, noting Caley as an example.

“He won various awards, was put in a couple hall of fames … involved in council, and just anywhere he could emcee or just have a positive impact on the community, he was there,” she said.

“He was always working for the community. When you search him (on Google), you don’t find a lot about his story.”

It’s exciting to make that kind of information more readily available and accessible for students and others, she said.

“We’re just really happy to help with this project and encourage students to pursue their interests in history and learn more about their local community,” she said.

Funded for 20 videos with $10,000 from the Lambton Creative County grant program, it’s not clear what happens next with the program, Collier said.

Working with the students, the archives and the Lambton Kent District school board, as well as local historical societies, has been fantastic, he said.

“The rock star of this entire story are the kids,” he said.

Videos are available on the Young Canuckstorian Project Youtube channel – with more to be posted in the coming weeks and months, Collier said – as well as via the Lambton County Archives at lambtonmuseums.ca.

tkula@postmedia.com

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