A screen capture from the Kitimat Memories and Memoirs Facebook group.

A screen capture from the Kitimat Memories and Memoirs Facebook group.

Social media valued as a depository of historical knowledge

Kitimat's history is remembered in part through interactions of people on Facebook.

Love it or hate it, the social media phenomenon on the Internet is providing brand new ways for people to connect.

Yet it’s not only party planning and photos of food that keep the wheels of social media spinning. With platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, people are connecting with common interests such as local history and political action.

Even small-town Kitimat has jumped on the social network bandwagon and a number of residents are using the modern technology to keep community spirit alive.

Facebook appears to dominate when it comes to use by Kitimatians with a purpose. You may have come across the Facebook group “Kitimat Memories and Memoirs”, a place for people to gather images and anecdotes about life in this town from it’s founding in 1954 to today.

Now, over 1,600 people have joined the page, and over the course of a week there is a steady stream of photos, stories, and conversations about this town.

It’s not even the only Kitimat history Facebook page there is — another group, called Kitimat — From Pioneers to Present, also is an active social media forum.

Right now, Memories and Memoirs is administered by a dedicated group of five people. Speaking on their behalf was Carol Gray Clark, one of the group’s founding members.

“I arrived in Kitimat in February 1964 as a six-year-old child,” said Clark. “So I was present during the mud and construction years.”

She’s been gone from Kitimat for a number of years now — she’s now a resident of Enderby — but “there is still some sort of emotional bond that I suspect will never be broken,” she said of Kitimat.

She was a member of a different and now gone Kitimat history page, and when that was taken away she teamed up with other Facebook users to start the group they have today.

“I suggested that I might start another group right away and everybody agreed that it would be a good idea. Thus the birth of Memories and Memoirs,” she said.

In a week the group had already boasted 1,000 followers.

Clark said that without the medium of Facebook a lot of this information would have simply been inaccessible. And it’s not only the photos that people post, which are many, that makes the page significant. She says it’s the conversations that follow that is the real value.

“So many people have reconnected and there have been several mini-reunions all over the province,” she said. “I have reconnected with many former friends and even a couple of long-lost family members.”

She added, “The pleasure that can be found in conversing and reminiscing is immeasurable.”

The newer Kitimat — Pioneers to Present page is just 11 shy of 1,000 ‘likes’ at the time of this writing and shares a similar mandate to Memoirs.

Speaking for their group was Kat Sommer-Derksen, one of that group’s administrators and founding members.

“There has been a lot of reunions, a lot of new friendships that have formed,” she said. “I do not believe that would have been possible without Facebook, or some other form of social media.”

Sommer-Derksen was born in Kitimat in 1955 but is now retired in Qualicum Beach. She said it’s been fascinating hearing the stories people post from their time in Kitimat, in the same period that she lived there.

“It’s been fascinating for me to hear their stories, to know what their experiences were like,” she said.

There is a lot of activity through their page and she said it ranges from people who simply lurk and see what others post to others who post frequently their own photos and experiences.

The value of Kitimat’s history is immeasurable to Sommer-Derksen, who said that it’s a story that likely will never be repeated anywhere else.

“It was a planned community and everybody who came there…was an immigrant. Everybody left behind family and familiar things,” she said. “There’s a common bond between those of us who were pioneers or were born into that pioneer community that I think is very unique.”

Between Memories and Memoirs and Pioneers to Present, over 2,600 people clearly think the same and are using social media to reminisce about this town’s past.

Just Posted

Outside the Kitimat RCMP police station, Diversity Morgan’s family and Kitimat RCMP come together for a pride flag-raising ceremony. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
Kitimat RCMP host pride flag ceremony in memory of Diversity Morgan

“We’re gathered here in solidarity for anyone who’s ever experienced prejudice or discrimination”

(Haisla First Nation logo)
Haisla Nation host walk for strength and series of virtual sessions for Indigenous History Month

The purpose of the walk is to bring Haisla Nation members together and show their collective support

The District of Kitimat will be awarding business owners with a store front up to $5,000 to cover up to 50 per cent of exterior renovations. (Norhtern Development logo)
The District of Kitimat is awarding $5,000 to storefront owners for exterior renovations

The district has set aside $20,000 this year and non-profits are also eligible

Ron getting loose and sipping a glass of the family’s favourite greek amber spirit, Metaxa. (Photo supplied)
In Our Valley: Ron Lechner

Retired part-time singer and Rio Tinto lifer: Ron Lechner

Map of the road work that will be completed this summer. The streets highlighted in red are what the district planned on completing before additional funding, and the streets highlighted in orange is the road works that will be done with the additional funding. (District of Kitimat photo)
$1.1 million allocated for road work this year in Kitimat

Kitimat council has added $470,000 for more work by deferring four other projects.

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Most Read