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Jordie Greenwood explored the manhunt for the Mad Trapper of Rat River. Her great grandfather was a Mountie who joined the harrowing search.

Students probe past

Lisa Scott
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (May 13/05) - Six years ago Sean Daly started a heritage fair for kids at William McDonald school after he was told about a national organization that was promoting events for Canadian kids to explore their history.

Each year more schools joined, so Daly added a regional fair and then a territorial showcase. The NWT started sending kids to the National Historica Fair held each July in a different city.

The heritage fair asks Grade 4-9 students to explore a Canadian history topic that intrigues them. The projects fit into most Canadian curriculums, covering social studies, geography and history.

The Territorial Showcase was held at the Legislative Assembly on May 6, with 30 kids taking part.

Looking around at the projects, Daly says the benefits of the fair are many.

"You want them to meet each other, share their stories and share education," says the N.J. McPherson teacher.

It was obvious to see why some students chose their subjects. Hilary Norwegian of Jean Marie River researched her great grandfather and former Jean Marie River chief Louie Norwegian for her project.

Just across the aisle Jordie Greenwood showed off a picture of her great grandfather Karl Gardlund. She got the idea for her project on the Aklavik bushman nicknamed "the mad trapper" from her grandmother.

Gardlund was part of the RCMP search party that hunted trapper Albert Johnson down to arrest him for trap interference, for three arduous months in 1931. The manhunt left two RCMP officers and Johnson dead.

"It was a big thing that happened in the North. There's been a few stories even today about it," says the Grade 7 Weledeh Catholic school student.

Other projects ran the gamut from the history of Northern RCMP, to where Canada's national anthem came from, and Nobel Prize-winner Sir Frederick Banting.

Ten special awards were given out, but only five students won a berth at the National Historica fair in Saskatoon this July. The winners are: Hilary Norwegian of Louie Norwegian school in Jean Marie River, Kathleen Sullivan, Natalie MacFadyen and Ryan Mahler of Ecole St. Joseph and Reanna Campbell of Chief Albert Wright school in Deline