From Star Wars to The Legend of Zelda: Talking Archaeology and Pop Culture with the 2020 Virtual BC Heritage Fair

It’s nearing the end of July and the COVID-19 global pandemic continues, including here in British Columbia where I live. Because of this, many conferences have pivoted to being hosted through online venues if they haven’t decided to cancel or postpone their events. One of these was the British Columbia Heritage Fair, which hosted their 2020 fair online at the end of June. The BC Heritage Fairs Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to history education of students (any grades, but especially grades 4-10) in BC. Each year they host a series of heritage fair programs for thousands of students, from in local classrooms to regional and provincial levels. As I’ve already mentioned, the BCHFS is a non-profit organization, so please consider donating financially, if you can, to help them continue their wonderful work!

This year, as the 2020 Heritage Fair moved to an online format, I received an invitation to host a discussion with the fair participants (and anyone else who was interested in signing up). The topics were open, so I thought it might be fun to talk about archaeology and popular culture, which is one of my favourite topics to talk about! There were so many things I could have included, but A) I only had about 45 mins, and B) the audience would likely consist of several young kids and I didn’t want to overwhelm them. So I decided to keep my presentation focused on three main themes: archaeology and movies, archaeology and video games, and archaeology and comics. I used specific examples of Star Wars and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to lead most of my discussions.

Perhaps the best part of this all was that I wasn’t the only one speaking! I invited 4 friends within the archaeology and pop culture world to share small videos for my presentation. So not only did the audience get to meet more archaeologists and a professional comic book artist, but they also got to learn from them. Alex Fitzpatrick taught us about archaeology in Star Wars. Emily Van Alst and Mackenzie Cory taught us about archaeology in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. And Mariah Story taught us about how she uses archaeology and art in her comic, Six Petal Pyramid. And outside of my own presentation, I also had the chance to listen to a friend of mine, Christine McCrae, giving her presentation earlier that morning! Christine is the executive director of Native Land (which she was teaching us about), a wonderful website dedicated to teaching its audience about the Indigenous lands they live on.

So, without further ado, here is the recording of my presentation! It starts up as I was talking about how long I’ve known the heritage fair coordinator (Rachel Meloche) for – a long time! Also, there are a couple of illustrated images of human remains (one from a video game about halfway through and the other from a comic book towards the end). I hope you enjoy!