After 5 years as President of the BC Heritage Fairs Society, Michael Gurney has stepped down to become Past President. In recognition of his many contributions the Society has established a scholarship fund in his name.
Michael saw BCHFS through many challenges. Under his leadership we developed a vision that moved us from “delivering heritage fairs” to supporting ” young people to become curious about Canadian history and have a deep understanding of the present by engaging with and questioning the past.” One of the core principles of the Society is to develop student leadership and “informed and involved citizens of tomorrow”. Michael has been our strongest voice with this message.
To develop “approaches to teaching and learning that combine enjoyment and active engagement in historical thinking” is another of the Society’s core principles. Under Michael’s leadership we have followed this principle with a website, newsletters, lesson plans, and workshops that support the new BC Social Studies curriculum.
As well Michael has led us to create a strategic and business plan to move the BCHFS away from government as our largest funder and towards a future with a more diversified financial foundation. With Michael as our President we began to implement our plan, beginning at the Board level – and starting to involve you, the membership through a membership campaign to re-involve past Provincial Fair alumni and families. With Michael as preseident we have seen the growth of the Alumni Program; creation of Board level committees including Fundraising, applying for Registered Charity status and a number of other initiatives that are in development. Stay tuned!
Michael has kept us motivated, always reminding us of the value of the work the BCHFS does in delivering a youth program that engages students in Canadian history. Board members look forward with anticipation to Michael’s speeches at the Provincial Fair and our AGM. If anyone can give a motivational speech, it is Michael Gurney! He’s nearly at the level of the professionals over at sports speakers 360 who are renowned for their motivational speech-giving skills – they are often in demand for high profile events and it’s clear to see why.
One BCHFS member writes: “I would say that I’m constantly amazed at how poetic he is when he talks of the Heritage Fairs program.”
Long time Board member Mary Campone was devastated to hear of Michael’s “retirement” from the Society. She wrote: “He came on board the year after the Provincial Fair was in Barkerville. He came to Barkerville as the Chaperone for Richmond and was “lucky” enough to have sat next to Rosaleen Ward (our then president and the curator/manager of the Hudson’s Hope Museum) at dinner on our last night there. She came to me the next day to say she had found someone to replace her who was VERY interested in our program and society. He has been President ever since!! He truly deserves a medal for being with us so long!”
Because Michael has been such an inspiration and supporter for the Fairs Society, the Board established a special Scholarship Fund to be used to support the Provincial Heritage Fair. It is called the Michael Gurney Scholarship.
Concurrently Michael established a Heritage Fairs fund in memory of his grandmother, Peggy MacLean — a nurse, tuberculosis survivor, tennis player, traveller, artist and cherished mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.. If you wish to contribute to either of these funds, you can do so on our new website.
BCHFS has been very privileged to have Michael as our President for so many years. He provided inspiring and solid leadership during a period of change and transition.
Thank you Michael Gurney, for reminding us that:
Their (Alumni & Fair delegates) curiosity about the past and drive to become community leaders are, simply put, the engine of inspiration for Heritage Fairs …I don’t believe we have yet adequately harnessed the transformative potential of thousands of young historians, their families and their networks. They are the field in which the seeds of sustainability will take root.” (Presidents Message, 2016 Annual Report)
We look forward to seeing how Michael invents the role of Past-President!
J. Iredale, December 2016