Image credit: Jen Zielinski

How Canada came to be

Nearly 400 children tell Canada’s history through song in just one hour

Our nation’s history told through song in just one hour comes alive this week thanks to the voices of nearly 400 Kelowna students.

The Okanagan Symphony Orchestra (OSO) and École Glenmore Elementary have teamed up for the production “How Canada Came to Be” in celebration of Canada’s Sesquicentennial and the OSO’s annual Education Week.

This one interactive show took most of the school year to put together and is performed by the children who sing, dance, narrate and even fiddle Canadian stories.

Created nearly 10 years ago by educator Rhonda Draper, who won the Governor General’s Award for the production, the show helps students learn about culture, art and Canadian history.

“I was inspired to write ‘How Canada Came to Be’ because I wanted children to learn about their Canadian identity, to learn an overview of Canada’s history and to learn how to develop their singing voices through the folk music of their own country”, says Draper.

Rosemary Thomson is OSO’s Music Director and says when heard Draper being interviewed on the radio several years ago she knew she had to work with her.

“I said to her we have to do this with the orchestra, so we did it in 2010 for our 50th anniversary for the orchestra and we thought because it is Canada’s 150th birthday that it would be a great year to bring the show back,” explained Thomson.

More than 20 members of OSO join the children for the event, which is held for students in Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon during the week of March 13-16.

“There isn’t a dry eye in the orchestra, they call cry during the show, they are so moved by it,” said Thomson. “It is so fun to see the kids blossom and when they hear the orchestra they just start to sing differently as well. So, it is a really beautiful partnership.”

The partnership extends beyond the children and the orchestra, to UBC Okanagan’s campus after Faculty of Education recently joined on as part of a development project.

The three-year research project will explore how curriculum can draw students into the depth and complexity of learning across all subject matter. Funds to support this project are the result of the school receiving the honour of BC K-12 Innovation Partnership recognition and the university’s receipt of a Social Sciences Humanities Research Council Partnership Development Grant.

The “How Canada Came To Be” public performance will take place in Kelowna on Thursday, March 16 at 6 p.m. (doors open 5:00pm) at Evangel Church, 3261 Gordon Drive.

Tickets can be purchased in advance by phone at 250-763-7544 or online.