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Okotoks museum collecting public's pandemic experiences

Okotoks Museum & Archives museum specialist Kathy Coutts is putting a call out for electronic submissions that tell stories of how people in the Okotoks area are faring during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Okotoks Museum
Staff at the Okotoks Museum & Archives are inviting the public to submit their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Tammy Rollie/Western Wheel)

An Okotoks historian is looking to the community to document one of the biggest historical events of our time.

Okotoks Museum & Archives museum specialist Kathy Coutts is putting a call out for electronic submissions that tell stories of how people in the Okotoks area are faring during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We started receiving things before we even put out the call for photographs and experiences,” said Coutts. “That has evolved into trying to capture a wide range of experiences so that it really will represent how the entire Okotoks community experienced this pandemic and so what we’re hoping for is a cross-section of the community to contribute their experiences. Every single segment of the community has a story to tell and their story is going to be completely different from someone else.”

Coutts said museum staff and volunteers took a similar approach following the 2005 flood.

“We put a request out asking if people would be willing to share their photographs and experiences from the flood,” she said. “We had over 1,000 photographs and documents.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Alberta, Coutts knew people’s experiences had to be documented.

“It is such a historical event and we need to capture those experiences because we all are experiencing it differently,” she said. “It’s really just to ensure they’re documented and preserved so years from now future generations will understand how we experienced this pandemic because we took the time to record it.”

Coutts said a great example of people documenting historical events was during the Spanish Flu.

According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, the flu struck the world during the First World War in 1918, killing around 50,000 Canadians and wiping out entire villages.

“If people didn’t take the time to document those experiences we wouldn’t understand what people went through and how it affected people,” she said. “We’re living in historic times. We need to preserve these historic experiences.”

Coutts said the museum has already received eight photographs and one blog submission.

“At the moment we’re only accepting electronic submissions through email and, once the museum opens, we will accept hard copies,” she said. “There is no time limit. People might want to wait until it’s over and submit something all at once about their experience from start to finish.”

To make a submission to the Okotoks Museum & Archives email culture@okotoks.ca. For more information call 403-938-8969.

Tammy Rollie, OkotoksToday.ca

For updated information, follow our COVID-19 special section for the latest local and national news on the coronavirus pandemic, as well as resources, FAQs and more.




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Tammy Rollie

About the Author: Tammy Rollie

Tammy Rollie is a staff reporter at OkotoksToday.ca and the Western Wheel newspaper, focusing on Wheel's West, local arts and culture and entertainment. For story tips contact trollie@okotoks.greatwest.ca
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