Customs, traditions, knowledge and skills

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The intangible cultural heritage of Strathcona County is rich with traditions, practices, knowledge and skills stemming from the lives of people from many different cultural and economic backgrounds. Intangible cultural heritage is traditionally passed down orally, and through teaching, practice and observation.

A few examples of intangible cultural heritage include memories and stories of the past as well as customs, practices, knowledge and skills relating to:

  • aboriginal practices
  • hunting, fishing and trapping
  • traditional building methods
  • animal husbandry
  • traditional farming and gardening methods
  • native and heritage seed stocks
  • knowledge of plants and herbs
  • cuisine: cooking, baking, preserving food
  • handcrafts: textiles and others
  • craftsmanship using hand tools and machinery
  • music, dance and theatre
  • sports and athletic activities
  • community activities and celebrations
  • religious observances
  • commemorative events

Carrying forward these traditional practices, customs, knowledge and skills is important to preserving the expertise and also keeping alive the memory of the first inhabitants and their ways of life. The activities and knowledge are also intrinsically interesting and useful in themselves. In addition to the inherent value of these examples, they have all contributed to building a sense of community and co-operation among their practitioners.

 Traditional knowledge and practices have survived to today simply because the generations before us thought they were important enough to teach to their children. Today, our generation has a similar duty to maintain this continuity for the future. If we don’t take action, the invaluable memories, knowledge and skill will be lost to our community.

Throughout consultations in 2008, participants and respondents identified
hands-on experience as the way they would like to learn about their heritage— they wanted to actually see and experience these activities. The people in our community today who are the carriers and disseminators of intangible cultural heritage are the people who can share this traditional knowledge, information and skill with the rest of the community and the next generation. We can tap into these valuable resources held by such individuals as:

  • farmers, ranchers and animal handlers
  • gardeners and naturalists
  • skilled workers: carpenters and other craftspeople
  •  aboriginal people
  •  hunters, trappers and fishers
  • people who cook and preserve food
  • artists, weavers and quilters
  • actors, musicians and storytellers
  • teachers, coaches and trainers
  • community leaders and church representatives
  • longtime County residents from all walks of life

Intangible cultural heritage also involves the meanings and values that people attach to historic places, such as farming communities, and natural and cultural landscapes. It is important that we capture stories and memories associated with these places and activities so that we can present a complete record of both our tangible and intangible heritage. A few examples of such places of historical significance in the County are:

  • sites along Sherwood Park’s Heritage Mile, including Smeltzer House
  • Bremner House
  • Cooking Lake
  • Victoria Trail
  • The Beaver Hills
  • The North Saskatchewan River Valley

 - from the Community Heritage Legacy Framework Report adopted by Council on December 8, 2009 

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Last updated: Friday, December 01, 2017
Page ID: 41183