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

RCMP searching for missing Lax Kw’alaams resident

Public urged to help in search for 42-year-old Lawrence Maitland

Pacific Northern Gas moves to reinstate full capacity and expand pipeline

Increased supply and demand could mean lower rates for North Coast customers, PNG says

CN train derailment cleared between Terrace and Prince Rupert

The CN mainline is now open, following a train derailment mid-way between… Continue reading

Kitimat’s BC Hydro substation receives a massive upgrade

It will cost $82 million to ensure that LNG Canada has enough… Continue reading

Comment requested for Kitimat LNG’s expansion plans

Company says radical redesign means additional export is possible

VIDEO: Young couple found dead in northern B.C. had been shot, police say

Chynna Noelle Deese of the U.S. and Lucas Robertson Fowler of Australia were found along Highway 97

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Latest plan is to fly trapped fish by helicopter over Big Bar slide

Multi-pronged plan set in motion to freesalmon blocked by landslide in the Fraser River

Family of missing B.C. senior with dementia frustrated with situation, heartened by community support

Nine days since Grace was last seen the question remains: ‘How can an 86-year-old just disappear?’

Unsealed record suggests U.S. man convicted of murdering Vancouver Island couple left DNA on zip tie in 1987

William Talbott is set to be sentenced Wednesday in the murders of Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg

Coast Tsimshian sign historic stewardship agreement

Lax Kw’alaams and Metlakatla plan to work as one to preserve traditional lands

Okanagan Air Cadet challenges gender-exclusive haircut policy

Haircut regulation inspires challenge around gender identity

VIDEO: Bystander training gains traction as tool to prevent sexual harassment, violence

Julia Gartley was sexually assaulted after an event, and no one stepped in to help

Two brands of ice cream sandwiches recalled due to presence of metal

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a recall on Iceberg and Originale Augustin brands

Most Read