Lisa Howell Transcript

Your Excellency, fellow laureates, and dear guests. I’d first like to acknowledge and give thanks that we are on the unceded lands of the Algonquin people.

I'd also like to dedicate this award and these words to my students and also to my dad, Jim, who was supposed to be here today, but is critically ill in the hospital. This is for you, dad.

It is truly humbling to be a recipient of the Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in teaching.

Like many of my fellow laureates, I am a teacher because I whole-heartedly believe in transformation. I believe that transformation occurs in classroom communities of belonging, where students feel safe and honoured -- to wonder, to pose questions, to make mistakes and to learn from a place of heart and spirit.

This is where true meaning is made and where many students find that their voice has power. Children’s voices do have power, and my students have used their voices to take “reconcili-ACTIONS” towards Canada’s injustices towards Indigenous people.

Many of my students are marginalized youth themselves, who have not had opportunities to be heard. Feeling empowered and engaged has inspired them to speak up because they are speaking out against injustices—in their classrooms, in their communities, in this country, and in the world.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” My students have learned that by using their voices about things that matter, they will never be silent.

Thank you.