Friday, April 9, 2010

2010 Lion Awards celebrate Calgary's history

Contrary to popular belief, heritage in Calgary is not an oxymoron. Since 2006, the Calgary Heritage Authority (CHA) has been hosting the biannual Lion Awards to honour Calgarians whose commitment has helped to promote, preserve and grow our unique heritage.

For some, the term ‘heritage’ evokes images of regal Victorian homes and majestic sandstone buildings. Calgary’s prominent heritage sites include Fort Calgary, built by the North West Mounted Police in 1875, the Simmons Building in east downtown constructed in 1912 and the lion sculptures placed on Centre Street Bridge in 1917. But Calgary’s history isn’t simply restricted to its architecture.

“Calgary’s heritage is everywhere. There are a million people in Calgary hence a million stories to tell. That’s what the Lion Awards are about,” says David Plouffe, City of Calgary Heritage Planner.

The Lion Awards recognize Calgarians who have undertaken initiatives, of any scale, in support of heritage conservation and promotion in Calgary.

“It’s our hope that through understanding our heritage, people will care for and enjoy it,” says Plouffe.

The awards are divided into six categories, including community revitalization, landscaping initiatives and awareness raising publications and exhibits. Citizens, organizations, public agencies and corporations are all eligible to receive a Lion Award.

As a young city, some may wonder how much heritage Calgary has accumulated over the years, but as Plouffe explains, Calgary’s heritage isn’t just about preserving the past; it’s about promoting the future.

“It’s about the stories we attach ourselves to today and tell to future generations.”

Plouffe cites the Calgary Tower as an example of Calgary’s Heritage - completed in 1968, The Calgary Tower may not be very old, but is iconic of Calgary’s progressive spirit.

Calgary’s Heritage is not confined to the downtown core and the communities surrounding it and as a result the size and scale of projects eligible for Lion Awards can vary greatly.

The Lion Awards will be accepting nominations until May 28. For a list of criteria, or to submit a nomination online, visit calgary.ca/lionawards.

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