Adam Pounder and Lori Buchanan

Recipients of the 2016 Governor General's History Award for Excellence in Teaching

November 28, 2016
Canada's History speaks to Adam Pounder and Lori Buchanan about their students' work comparing their relatives' stories of the past to “official” historical narratives.

Havergal College, Toronto (Ontario)

Adam Pounder and Lori Buchanan help their students connect their family past to critical moments in Canadian history. Students start by selecting and interviewing a relative, searching through family photographs, and writing about their relative’s experiences. After identifying a related historical topic to research, students analyze scholarly sources, write an account detailing their findings, and select an artifact to complement their work. This allows them to compare their relative’s story with the “official” narrative that surfaces during their research. They explore the comparative values of each account, discuss whether their various differences can be reconciled, and, ultimately, learn to appreciate the necessity of multiple perspectives on the past. Often, students encounter tensions between personal histories and national narratives. They must then tackle questions such as: What is a nation? How was Canadian identity built? In answering such questions, students develop their own definition of nationhood and demonstrate whether or not Canada meets their criteria.