Rules and Regulations

Note that the 2016 applications process is now closed.

The Government of Canada History Awards for students are presented by the Government of Canada and Canada’s National History Society. The Government of Canada is providing funding for the organization of the awards and will present the awards directly to the selected winners. Canada’s History will oversee the development of the awards program including the application and review process. By submitting an essay for consideration students agree to the rules and regulations as presented below.

The Government of Canada History Awards for students are open to all residents of Canada currently en rolled at a Canadian High School as a full-time Grade 10 or 11 student (Secondaire 4/5 in Quebec). Each student may submit one essay for consideration. Additional essays received will not be considered or counted. A maximum of 225 prizes of $1,000 each will be presented.

How to Enter:
The competition will officially begin October 12th, 2015 at 12:01:00 a.m. and ends April 23rd, 2016 at 11:59:59 pm ET. All essays must be submitted by no later than the end date. NEW FOR 2016: Essays are required to be between 1000 and 1250 words in length. Essays longer than this will not be accepted.

Essays are expected to be historical in nature and should include research, analysis and critical thinking. Students will write an original essay answering one of five questions related to the history of Canada. The questions have been developed to highlight important anniversaries and commemorations taking place over the coming years. The 2015 questions highlight several important anniversaries including the 175th anniversary of the election of Robert Lafontaine and Robert Baldwin, the 175th anniversary of the birth of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the centennial of women's suffrage, the centennial of the battles of Somme and Beaumont-Hamel, and the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Hong Kong. In addition, our 2016 questions address topics in Aboriginal history to reflect updates in curricular requirements as well as to highlight the continuing importance of Aboriginal histories in a contemporary context.

The 2016 questions are:

1. Sir Wilfrid Laurier stated: “I think we can claim that Canada will fill the twentieth century”. Explain what Laurier meant and assess whether he was correct in his prediction.
2. Women in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta were the first to achieve the vote in Canada in 1916. What were the three most important factors in achieving this success? Defend your answer.

3. Despite their differences, Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine, a Catholic francophone from Lower Canada and Robert Baldwin, a Protestant Anglophone from Upper Canada, facilitated Canada’s adoption of responsible government. Assess whether Lafontaine and Baldwin should be considered as the founders of what was to become Canada.

4. In 1982, Section 35(1) of the Constitution Act affirmed the existence of aboriginal and treaty rights without articulating what they were. Since then, through various cases brought before it, the Supreme Court of Canada has specified the content of these rights drawing from agreements negotiated between the Crown and Aboriginal people since the 18th century. Using a specific right or agreement, assess how aboriginal and treaty rights have been expanded or limited by the Court since 1982.

5. Compare and contrast the experience of two immigrant communities to Canada using one from the nineteenth and one from the twentieth century. Assess their experience in terms of their reception, their settlement, and the impact they had on their communities.

Entries must be submitted online. Entries emailed or mailed will not be accepted. Hand written essays will not be accepted. Essays submitted must be the original work by the student specific to this competition. Essays may not have been previously submitted or published for any other contest or award. Each entry should be the work of a single student. Group submissions will not be accepted. All essays will be reviewed for plagiarism which will result in immediate disqualification.

Essays should be submitted by word document or pdf in standard 8.5 by 11 inches paper size and portrait format. Please use a regular business font such as Times New Roman or Arial at 12 point size. Essays should be double spaced. Cover pages are not required.

All submitted essays must include proper citations following a consistent style. The suggested citation method for footnotes and endnotes is the Chicago Style Manuel, an example of which can be found here: A bibliography may also be included but is not mandatory. Footnotes/Endnotes/Bibliographies will not count towards the word count.

Judging and Review Criteria
A shortlist of all participants will be selected by an independent panel of members of the education community. Winners will be selected by an independent panel of five judges. The judge’s decision is final. Essays will be evaluated by the judging panels along five main criteria:

  • Relevance: Essay components directly address one of the five questions.
  • Research and Sources: Primary and secondary sources are employed in crafting the essay.
  • Quality of Writing: Concerned with coherence, clarity, depth of analysis, and strength of argument.
  • Critical and Historical Thinking: Essay demonstrates use of critical and historical thinking skills, for example: engaging multiple perspectives, analysis and corroboration of evidence, and use of other historical thinking concepts as appropriate (continuity & change, cause & consequence, historical significance, ethical judgments, and/or historical perspective-taking).
  • Accuracy: Information is factually correct; references are complete and are cited correctly.

Awards for Students
There is up to $225,000 in prize money available to students who enter the essay contest. The number of awards presented is dependent on participation. A maximum of 225 prizes of $1,000 each will be presented.

One recipient will be selected from each 10 submissions received. The maximum number of recipients is 225. If more than 2250 submissions are received only 225 recipients will be selected. A minimum of 4 recipients will also be selected from each province or territory from which 40 submissions are received.

In addition, the authors of the top 2 essays - one in English and one in French - will be invited on an all-expense paid trip to the Governor General's History Award ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa in the fall of 2016.

Terms and Conditions
The prize is nonnegotiable and non-transferable. By entering this contest, students agrees that any information sent to Canada’s History becomes the property of Canada's National History Society to publish online or in Canada’s History magazine at their discretion and, should they win, a photo may be posted and/or published.
Employees of Canada's History Society, Kayak Magazine, Canada’s History Magazine, and their partners, or their representatives, agents, or family members, are not eligible. Subject to all applicable laws. Void where prohibited.

By accepting a prize, winners agree to grant the Government of Canada and Canada’s History the right to use their names, photographs, city/province of residence, biographical information, statements, voice, and likeness for promotional purposes relating the competition in any media or format, now and in the future without a time limit, and without compensation or notification. Entries not complying with these Official Rules may be disqualified.

For further questions or comments regarding this contest please contact Canada’s History Society at 515 Portage Avenue, Bryce Hall Main Floor, Winnipeg, MB R3B 2E9; at; or by telephone at 1-866-952-3444, x 221.