Here in Saskatoon the city is buried in a thick, white muffler of snow. It’s a time of cold days and longer nights – the perfect time to reflect. I’ve been leaning hard into the power of reflection to learn, review, improve, and grow. Come along with me as I think about the year.
Reflecting on the year that was
In 2022 I focused on my path to genealogy accreditation with the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists1 (ICAPGen). I joined the Level One study group January to April, then after submitting my Level One project, the Level Two/Three group September to December.2
If you’re thinking about accreditation, I highly recommend the study groups. Any conceits I had about being ahead of the game with a completed study were erased by the thorough ICAPGen peer review process. If you’re nervous about feedback, think of it this way: if you had a knowledgeable friend you trusted to gently point out your study’s deficiencies, wouldn’t you want to know? The process of write / peer review / redraft makes us better genealogists whether we are the reviewer or reviewed. It tests our education, logic, and conclusions. It’s powerful, humbling, and makes strong friends of your cohort. (To my fellow Level 2/3 study group participants Pamela Groth and Kim Jenkins – good luck and may we all pass our exams!)
By the end of December, I’d completed the study groups with a plan to successfully write the exams.3 I even know what I’ll wear (slippers and sweats). More importantly, I have a sense of my weaker areas with time to study. I have a lot to do but I feel prepared for 2023 and the next steps.
After two years of lockdown, 2022 was the year to travel. For a genealogist, that meant researching in real life. I spent time at the British Columbia Archives, Victoria;4 City of Vancouver Archives, Vancouver;5 and the United Church of Canada Archives, Vancouver.6 As a bonus, I also saw Ocean View Burial Park, Burnaby.7 Real life research is harder than online: there’s far more to see and far less time to see it. Thinking back over the eight total visits, I ended the year feeling I’d advanced my real life research skills. Wherever 2023 takes me – Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa? Family History Library in Salt Lake City? – I will be better prepared to meet the challenge.
In December, I had the pleasure of presenting my ideas to the Saskatchewan Genealogical Society with “How to Get the Most From a Real Life Archive Visit.” This was my tenth presentation for the society and at this point, I’m more relaxed. If you have discovered a new-to-you idea, method, or family member, please consider sharing it with your local genealogy society. We are all learning and you never know how well you know a thing until you can teach it.
In 2022, I took a hard look at my public speaking and performing skills and invested in upgrades. This time last year I knew nothing about professional makeup application or stage performance. My interviewing skills lacked structure. I’d taken speech training with Kara Broks at The SLN8 but more was needed.
I invested in working with a wide range of professionals: Véronique Loewen, Verolingo Communications, interviewing; 9 Caelia Gardiner, Dance Alive Studios, stage performing;10 Jocelyne Poirier, esthetician, professional makeup techniques; and Erin, Erin Nicole Haute Couture Lashes for eyelash extensions.11 I walked into my fave women’s clothing store, Sandbox in the City,13 and explained that I needed “…at least one outfit that is not black, white, strongly patterned, looks good on television, and makes me feel professional.” We discussed elements such as: where will the mic power box hang, will a suit jacket be too warm under studio lights, and will you be sitting in a chair or perched on a stool? A mic is best placed on a strong waistband, pocket, or belt. A suit jacket must have sweat guards. Sitting in a chair or on a stool rules out skirts that are above knee length for fear of showing too much. There is a lot to consider.
The day of the interview with Fairchild Television in Vancouver, I booked a cab to the airport at four a.m. to catch a six a.m. flight. I had rolled my suit, top, and makeup kit into my carry-on luggage. Whatever happened to my checked bag, I wouldn’t be without my outfit. On the flight, I wrote out the questions and speaking points. Arriving at Vancouver airport, I went straight to the washroom, cleaned off the countertop, and laid out my brushes, skincare and makeup. I’ve never worn concealer, foundation, or powder before this year, and I needed to apply it heavier than normal for the camera. My hands were shaking but I managed to achieve my desired look: still me but with better skin. When all of this was done, I packed everything back into my carry-on, changed into my outfit carefully so as not to smear my face, and went to claim my rental car. I’d timed my arrival with half an hour to spare – consequently I was on site before the crew and had time to mentally go over my speaking points.
I was ready: let the interview commence.
Appearing natural on camera is hard work. The trick is this: if you feel perfectly put together, you can focus on what you’re saying.
One of my favourite pastimes is visiting museums. Today’s museums are a far cry from what Henry Yu called “a roomful of dead things under glass.” (We had been touring an older museum in Kaiping, Guangdong, China in Oct 2019.) The best are interactive and multimedia. This year I got to see history envisioned at the:
- Chinese Canadian Museum, Fan Tan Alley, Victoria, BC13
- Chinese Canadian Museum at the Hon Hsing Athletic Building, Vancouver, BC (no photos)
- Chinese Canadian Museum at the Wing Sang complex, Vancouver, BC
- Britannia Mine Museum, Britannia Beach, BC14
- Whistler Museum, Whistler, BC15
I can’t wait to see the new Chinese Canadian Museum at Wing Sang when it opens on 1 Jul 2023.
With a focus on accreditation, I took on fewer client projects but the ones I did accept were memorable. One was a documentary. In November I attended the worldwide premiere of Finding Fred Lee,16 produced by Jack Gin and hosted at the Chinatown Storytelling Centre.17 Jack had been chasing the story of Canadian born Fred Lee (1895-1917) for years. Who was he? Why did he sign up to fight in the First World War? How did he sign up at a time when all Chinese were treated as second class citizens? Who was his family, the Lees of Kamloops, BC? In many ways, Finding Fred Lee is the story of Jack and Fred, as we followed Jack’s insatiable curiosity about this forgotten hero. Eventually, Jack engaged a team to help build the storyline, and I had the pleasure of answering smart questions from smart people. The story of Fred Lee isn’t over – it’s truly just begun – but the first project is done.
- Total number of posts in 2022: 24
- Total number of hours writing (average eight hours/post): 192
- All time total number of views as of 31 Dec 2022: 239,316
- Total number of visitors in 2022: 50,552 (WOW!!)
- Best read post: What do I do with old VHS tapes?
- Least read post: Gong Hey Fat Choi: Year of the Tiger
My favourite post for 2022 was finding the story behind the curious school room in my great-grandfather’s home.18 It combined several family stories with research, with the happy result that the stories were both supported and expanded. Unlike so much of our collective history that has been bulldozed over time, this one room serves as a physical reminder of how education and vision laid the foundations of success for generations. I’m awed and grateful that the family in question is mine.
What a year for interviewing, studying, travelling, visiting, writing, and working. Looking back, my main impression is this. Yes, I did a lot. But what feels more important is I met a lot, by which I mean I met a lot of folks I’d previously only known virtually, or hadn’t seen in years. After such a drought, it was soul-expanding to see people in person, even it it did sometimes mean six a.m. flights and wearing masks.
A few people travelled to Saskatoon this year. For those of you that did, thank you for stopping in. Come again – the coffee’s ready.
This post goes out to the volunteers. At every level, grassroots to international, volunteers provide expertise and labour. Thank you to everyone who regularly donates their time on committees and boards. Thank you to the online administrators. There are over a thousand genealogy groups on Facebook, all of them created and managed by volunteers. Our public discourse is better thanks to you.
Join me in 2023: join a committee. Join a few. Genealogy needs you.
1Become Accredited, 2022, International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists, accessed 30 Dec 2022, website.
2ICAPGen Study Groups, 2022, International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists, accessed 30 Dec 2022, website.
3Western Canadian censuses, 2022, Past-Presence.com, accessed 30 Dec 2022, website. In this page I assembled the types of information a genealogist would want to know about every available western Canadian census.
4“What you need to know to visit the BC Archives today (Sep 2022),” 5 Sep 2022, Past-Presence.com, accessed 30 Dec 2022, website; and “My trip to the archives: how I prepare and what I found,” 9 Oct 2022, Past-Presence.com, accessed 30 Dec 2022, website.
5“True crime, the Wing Sang Co., and police records: A trip to the City of Vancouver Archives,” 12 Jun 2022, Past-Presence.com, accessed 30 Dec 2022, website.
6“A trip to the United Church of Canada Archives, Vancouver,” 6 Jun 2022, Past-Presence.com, accessed 30 Dec 2022, website.
7“Finding my family: Chinese graves at Ocean View Burial Park, Burnaby, BC,” 19 Jun 2022, Past-Presence.com, accessed 30 Dec 2022, website.
8The SLN – The Speech Language Network, Saskatoon, SK, 2022, accessed 30 Dec 2022, website. Kara is a speech pathology genius. If only I could remember to breathe this way all the time.
9Verolingo Communications, Saskatoon, SK, 2022, accessed 30 Dec 2022, website. I cannot recommend Véronique more highly. If you have an important interview or speech, do yourself a favour and book your prep session with her.
10Dance Alive Studios, Saskatoon, SK, 2022, accessed 30 Dec 2022, website. Caelia’s Path to Performance program taught me far more than dance.
11Erin Nicole Lash Professional, Warman, SK, 2022, accessed 30 Dec 2022, website. Erin designed my lashes, recommended inexpensive non-comedogenic makeup to go with, and is unfailingly great company.
12Sandbox in the City, Saskatoon, SK, 2022, accessed 30 Dec 2022, website. This is my favourite clothing store. I usually walk in, explain the occasion, and buy what they recommend. Their taste is impeccable and much better than mine.
13“Welcome to the Chinese Canadian Museum,” 2022, The Chinese Canadian Museum, accessed 30 Dec 2022, website.
14“Britannia Mine Museum – Award-winning Museum and National Historic Site,” 2022, Britannia Mine Museum, accessed 30 Dec 2022, website.
15“Whistler Museum,” 2022, Whistler Museum, accessed 30 Dec 2022, website.
16Michael Reeve, “‘Finding Fred Lee’ documentary hopes to finally bring lost soldier home to Kamloops,” 20 Oct 2022, article, CFJC Today – Everything Kamloops, accessed 30 Dec 2022, website; “Finding Fred Lee – Community Preview,” 11 Nov 2022, Chinatown Storytelling Centre, Vancouver, BC, Chinese Canadian Museum, accessed 30 Dec 2022, website.
17Chinatown Storytelling Centre – Honouring Our Past, Shaping Our Future,” 2022, Chinatown Storytelling Centre, accessed 30 Dec 2022, website.
18“Finding the story behind the story: why is there a school room at Wing Sang?” 9 Dec 2022, Past-Presence.com, accessed 30 Dec 2022, website.