Paul Paterson Transcript

Your Excellency, fellow laureates, and dear guests, I want to thank everyone involved for this honour. From the selection committee to the organizers of this incredible weekend. This is certainly the highlight of my career so far.

I'd also like to publicly thank the people who made this possible. Thanks to the Westmount Secondary School administration and department members who provided me with the green light and the support to try this approach to teaching Canadian history.

And, most importantly, to the students who took up the challenge of Canada 2070 and exceeded my wildest expectations.

My general philosophy is that to overcome the many challenges our country faces we need more ideas and more voices. The projects they produced were terrific examples of what can be done when you empower people to solve problems and develop their own solutions.

Their vision for the country is as ambitious as it is exciting. It has been a privilege to work with them to develop their ideas over the last two years.

I must apologize to the translators because I'm going to now stray from my prepared text-bit. As a history teacher I know how important the lessons we teach are and how valuable the skills are that we develop.

Over the last years, we have taken a backseat in favour of STEM—science, technology, engineering and math. Today I have students who abandon historical study who express that they do so because they aren't smart enough—sorry, and students who study history that express that they do so because they aren't smart enough to do STEM.

These two areas are not exclusive. I have medical professionals in my family, my immediate family, but I also have a filmmaker and an entrepreneur.

What I saw this weekend at these events gives me hope that through innovative practice and projects, we as history teachers, can show kids that you have to be smart to do this too.

My students are an example of that. They developed a deeper understanding of their country but more importantly learned that their ideas and their voices carried weight.

The feedback they received from leaders showed them that good ideas are not limited by age or educational level.

My hope is that this will be the enduring legacy of the projects - that this generation becomes engaged in their country and their communities to make all our lives better. The voice of my students tells me that the future for this country is bright, if only we listen.

Thanks again to all.