Cemeteries, Downtown Walking Tours, and Special Events: Community Programmer Veronika Kurz Describes Her Summer

My summer working at Heritage Park Museum as Community Programmer was an enriching and educational experience. In addition to giving every-day interpretive museum tours both in French and English, I also developed historical walking tours of Terrace’s downtown and of the Kitsumgallum Pioneer Cemetery. Not only did I give tours, I also worked closely with the Marketing and Events Coordinator to ensure the success of our many events and workshops throughout the summer.

The Historic Downtown Walking Tour of Terrace took participants on a two-kilometre trek from the site of George Little’s blacksmith shop, through the area where two separate bank robberies took place, out to the legion building, and back. Throughout the tour, historical anecdotes were shared as we traveled from building to building. This provided participants with a new outlook on the city of Terrace and its rich history.

The Kitsumgallum Pioneer Cemetery Tour took participants on a gentle stroll through the graves of Terrace’s forefathers. This tour provided an opportunity to learn about the men and women who worked hard for their families and for the future of their community. As there were over one hundred graves, we were only able to focus on a select few. George Little, the pre-emptor of the Terrace townsite, was featured as was Charles Nelson, the Tsimshian man who took George Little in and gave him food and shelter back in 1905. We did this tour once as part of Terrace’s Riverboat Days Celebrations and once again at the end of August. We had almost fifty participants between the two tours and many of them were descendants of early settlers buried at the cemetery.
Researching for these tours was not without its challenges. Much of Terrace’s local history is not well-documented and, as such, it can be difficult to find a complete narrative. With the help of local historians and the guidance of Heritage Park Museum’s curator Kelsey Wiebe, I was able to develop detailed descriptions of the downtown area and of the cemetery.

Heritage Park Museum is known for putting on a large number of events for the community. In addition to our tours, we also run Kids Culture Camps, Evening Lecture Series, Arts Day Camps, Senior’s Teas, Saint Jean Baptiste Day Celebrations, and Canada Day Celebrations (our largest event of the year). The Marketing and Events Coordinator is largely responsible for the organization of these successful events, but I was able to work closely with her to make sure that the events ran smoothly. I contacted community members and organizations, helped direct volunteers, and resolved conflicts with children and adults alike. I was also in charge of taking photographs to document the events. These photos were used on our website, in social media, and in the local newspaper.

Because of my work as Community Programmer, community visibility was heightened. I made sure that the local news media were aware of our events and would often take part in interviews for both radio and newspaper to further promote our programs for the community. Many people who came to our events told me that they had heard about them through the media, which affirmed how effective we were.
Currently I am studying Motion Picture Arts at Capilano University, with the intent to become an independent Canadian director and producer. As a filmmaker, one needs to be able to lead a group of people, and communicate effectively, and fully research your subject. In writing various guided tours for the museum, there was a lot of research and networking involved. This taught me how to fully explore all of my resources in order to find the information that I need. I also gained more experience in speaking in front of a large group of people. Public speaking is a skill that I have been working to strengthen over the last few years and I feel that Heritage Park has allowed me to become a better speaker and in turn a more confident leader.

I believe that my work at Heritage Park Museum has allowed me to sharpen my skills and prepare me for the future. I am very thankful for the opportunity to work here and for the connections that I have made. Thank you to Canada Summer Jobs for funding my position.