With little fanfare, no media coverage & tremendous support, what promises to be northern Alberta’s biggest Heritage & Tourism project soft launched at the Prince of Wales Armouries & Heritage Centre on September 24th, 2017.

“History is not always accessible to all Albertans” and “History Check … is going to make it easier for everyday Albertans to learn these important stories”, says The Honourable Danielle Larivee, MLA for Lesser Slave Lake & Minister of Children Services.

Launching with over 330 communities and regions that include a 1000 Points of Interest and growing the foundations have been laid.  As Stephen Yakimets, Director for Edmonton & District Historical Society, a group that is a strong supporter of History Check,  “this is not just Smith, not just the Peace River Country, not just the Fort McMurray area – it is all of northern Alberta”.

History Check is an app whose intent is to share all eras and aspects of history and culture.  Chief Calvin Bruneau of Papaschase First Nation commented that “It’s not only First Nation and Indigenous history, but its how, according to treaty, the spirit and intent of the treaty was for us  is to share the land and live peaceably.”   

Archeology enlightens us to many sites and the oral histories, as they are shared, give more anymore insight into a rich and diverse culture that was present long before Europeans set foot in the area.  “Its acknowledging all of this history and combining it together and thats what we have here with this app” added Chief Bruneau.

Shirley Lowe, former Edmonton Historian Laureate, talked about how History Check is “an app makes so much sense” and how “the beauty of this project is that is collects all of this information but it also dispenses it”.   She added how “it is so simple and makes so much sense. I think it is going to be an incredible success.”

So why was there so little fanfare or media attention to this incredible project that was spearheaded by the Friends of Historical Northern Alberta Society with so much collaboration?  I think part of the challenge faced by FHNAS is that they were a society that came out of the blue – with no credibility – no history – and to tackle a huge project.

Many thought it could not be done, as some of those people have now spoken to me and told me that we have amazed them.  Murray Kerik, who knows me personally so is not included in the above group, is Reeve of the MD of Lesser Slave River.  He may have hit the nail on the head when he reminisced about my first presentation to their council – long before the ‘light bulb moment” for History Check.

After calling me a vertically challenged wolverine”  (thanks Murray, I’ll take that as a compliment) he said after being taken aback, “she had more on the ball than we thought” and how we had “put the right grouop to make this work.”

So while some of the speakers at our celebration, talked about the lessons learned from this experience, I believe it still boils down to stereo-typing and I hope we have broken a mold or two along the way.  We have launched History Check with limited funding and lots of passion.

We are now live and you can Download the History Check App Here

Our challenge now is to go viral – and believe me – we will do what it takes to make it happen. You can help by sharing – and sharing and doing it some more.  This will take us a long ways in encouraging people to explore our northern Alberta history, activities and services and as those numbers go up so does our ability to become self-sustainable through advertising.

Stay tuned and watch us Rock!

Sheila Willis




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