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The Western Development Museum is honoured to announce the Introduction to Blacksmithing Course and the Heritage Presentations Series partnership with Seniors’ Centre Without Walls as recipients of 2023 Heritage Awards from Heritage Saskatchewan in the category of Living Heritage.

The Living Heritage Awards criteria are based on the goals of the 2003 UNESCO Convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage. This includes projects or programs that facilitate the transmission of intangible cultural heritage knowledge and skills, like blacksmithing, from one person to another. It also includes projects or programs that facilitate community development like economic development activities and community wellbeing initiatives, often but not always related to cultural tourism and small business/entrepreneurship, creating a sense of belonging and place.

The WDM has offered the Introduction to Blacksmithing Course to the public since 1988 out of its Corporate Office in Saskatoon. Since its inception over 120 courses have been taught with over 1,000 people participating. In each course, participants learn basic forging techniques, including flattening, squaring, splitting, bending and welding. Through the course program, blacksmith knowledge and skills have been documented and passed on to participants ages 16 – 65+.

Early participants of the course formed what is now the Saskatchewan Blacksmith Association which helped build working blacksmith shop exhibits at the WDM Saskatoon and continues to promote blacksmithing and hand-forged ironwork across the province. All four WDM locations have working blacksmith shop exhibits with volunteer ‘smiths that inform and delight thousands of visitors annually.

The WDM is proud to be preserving both the physical tools and the techniques and traditions of prairie ‘smiths and farmers.

“I’m delighted that Heritage Saskatchewan is recognizing the WDM Introduction to Blacksmithing program and the contributions of our dedicated team of blacksmithing instructors. Our instructors embody patience, expertise, and supportiveness, all contributing to the experience people have during WDM courses and, ultimately, to the preservation of the art of blacksmithing in our province and beyond.”

-Kristine Flynn
WDM Volunteer Engagement Manager

The Western Development Museum – Moose Jaw has been honoured for their participation in the Seniors’ Centre Without Walls Telephone Program. The Program engages seniors 55+ in activities and conversation from the comfort of their own home. The WDM Moose Jaw began as a guest presenter in October 2020. Since that time, the WDM has become a regular presenter and has made 23 presentations on a variety of historical topics related to artifacts in the WDM Collection.

“We are thrilled to receive this award! This partnership has been beneficial in supporting a connection for isolated and lonely seniors and introduced new folks to the WDM and its collection. More importantly, through the sharing of their memories on each topic, this partnership has helped to share the intangible cultural heritage from the seniors’ life experience.”

-Karla Rasmussen
WDM Programs Manager

Pictured (l-r): His Honour the Honourable Russ Mirasty, S.O.M., M.S.M., WDM Volunteer Engagement Manager Kristine Flynn, Blacksmith Course Instructors Rick Dixon and Murray Stachura.
Missing: Blacksmith Course Instructor Mont Wilkins and WDM Programs Manager Karla Rasmussen.
Photo credit: Heritage Saskatchewan

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