Saanich is a community with a rich history and a vibrant culture and now a new awards program will celebrate the people who have made an impact.
The awards are an initiative of the Saanich Arts, Culture and Heritage Committee to recognize outstanding contributions by individuals, organizations and businesses to the cultural life of the community.
Arts, culture and heritage together encompass a broad range of ideas and activities, from theatre, dance, music and film to visual arts, architecture, history, literature and more.
In the area of heritage alone there are many important initiatives underway to restore heritage buildings and gardens, protect historic monuments and landscapes, record oral histories, revitalize ancient languages, document neighbourhoods, and commemorate events and people who have shaped our community.
Individuals and groups in Saanich have produced local history books, compiled databases of heritage sites, created websites, led walking tours, and shared their knowledge and ideas in many creative ways. Others have been inspired by history and heritage to create works of art, fiction, poetry and performance.
The Arts, Culture and Heritage Awards are an opportunity to celebrate and honour those who have led the way and inspired others.
The preservation of heritage sites in Saanich has been the result of tremendous effort over the years by people who remain largely unrecognized. Dodd House in Gordon Head, for instance, was Saanich’s first designated heritage building and its preservation in the late 1970s was the result of the combined effort of residents, businesses and community organizations.
Arts, culture and heritage groups directly help to maintain Saanich’s historic buildings through their use of local churches, school rooms and community halls. They foster creativity, public dialogue and offer vital social networks. The cultural knowledge that is communicated through performance, exhibition, presentation and publication enriches the community and leaves a legacy for the next generation to build on. Definitely something to celebrate.
There are several award categories including the Unsung Hero, which recognizes an individual for their leadership and involvement. Organizations are eligible for the Cultural Stewardship Award and businesses may be nominated as well. The Youth Award recognizes commitment, leadership or exceptional accomplishment.
The presentation of the first awards is scheduled for November. Award information and nomination forms are available at www.saanich.ca/arts. Nominations will be accepted until Oct. 14.
Caroline Duncan is an archivist and local historian in Greater Victoria.