2021 Shortlist for the Governor General's History Award for Excellence in Community Programming

Community organizations from across Canada are being recognized for their exceptional work in the field of Canadian community programming.

Posted September 29, 2021

Canada’s National History Society is pleased to announce this year’s shortlist for the Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Community Programming. The organizations featured represent remarkable and inspiring initiatives that encourage public engagement in Canadian history.

The award will honour two recipients, one French and one English, for innovation in community programming. Organizations receive a cash prize of $2,500.

Congratulations to the featured projects!

Five Mile Light Rebuild
Five Mile Light Rebuild Committee
Elizabethtown, ON

In 2018, the iconic Five Mile Light burned down after a lightning strike. The lighthouse was over 160 years old and was considered a historical landmark at Cole Shoal on the St. Lawrence River. The citizens of Elizabethtown rallied together after the event and spent the next few years fundraising to cover the costs of building a reconstruction. After raising a total of $200,000, the committee was able to rebuild the lighthouse and ignite a new community spirit.

Parcours historique du patrimoine commercial de Saint-Henri
SDC Les Quartiers du Canal, La Société Historique de Saint-Henri
Montreal, QC

The historical commercial heritage route of Saint-Henri features a permanent exhibition presented on 22 facades of commercial and institutional buildings in the Saint-Henri district in Montreal. Through words and images, the route showcases the history of the neighbourhood and celebrates places dear to the collective memory of the people who live there.

The Poppy Project
Niagara Falls History Museum
Niagara Falls, ON

“The Poppy Project” turned the poppy, a symbol of Remembrance Day, into a massive art installation that draped over the exterior and interior of the Niagara Falls History Museum last fall. Members of the community were called upon to put their crocheting skills to work and contribute a poppy of their own. Over the course of the pandemic, over 11,000 poppies were donated from people across Canada, the United States, Denmark, and New Zealand. Many submissions included letters from family members who resonated with the project’s commemorative aspect.

Écrire sa vie!
Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal, CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal
Montreal, QC

In March 2020, during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when much of the city was under lockdown, the elderly had to stay at home to protect themselves from the virus. Janette Bertrand, a journalist and writer herself in her nineties, had the idea to take advantage of this difficult period; she offered virtual writing workshops for elderly individuals to write their autobiographies and testify about their experiences during this period.

REEL History Films
Craigleith Heritage Depot, Blue Mountains Public Library
The Blue Mountains, ON

REEL History Films is a series of documentary films produced by Craigleith Heritage Depot that highlights local cultural and natural history. Film themes developed for this project include: Indigenous History, the Niagara Escarpment, and the Craigleith Fossils. Local historians and experts were instrumental in the  research stage of the documentaries. Each film was screened at the museum for a local audience and made available online, serving as a source of community pride and knowledge for years to come.

Maisons mémoire
Musée acadien du Québec (MAQ)
Bonaventure, QC

Maisons mémoire is a series of temporary exhibitions produced and created by the Musée acadien du Québec and carried out as part of historical research on houses and buildings in the Gaspé region. The houses on display were lived in or built by Acadians, with the first exhibition in the series highlighting the rich history of the Arsenault-Gallagher house in Petit-Bonaventure.

Semá:th X̱ó:tsa: Sts’ólemeqwelh Sx̱ó:tsa/Sumas Lake: Great-Gramma’s Lake
The Reach Gallery Museum
Abbotsford, BC

The Reach initiated a collaborative, multidisciplinary partnership with a number of Stó:lō leaders and knowledge keepers to reclaim the memory of a now-drained body of water that stretched between present-day Abbotsford and Chilliwack. This lake was culturally significant to the Séma:th people of the Stó:lō nation and held great ecological abundance that supported its inhabitants. However, centuries of canals, dykes, and pumphouses transformed the lakebed into an agricultural resource benefiting the settler population. A 36-page digitally illustrated children’s book was developed as part of the project, inspired by archival photos of the lake.

La Place
Société historique francophone de l’Alberta
Edmonton, AB

La Place is a broadcasting platform developed in 2017 by the Société historique de l'Alberta in order to make the history of Albertans more easily accessible in French. La Place addresses both the early colonization of Alberta and its recent history, taking care to situate francophones in the "global" context of the Alberta community. La Place remains a space where information sharing and critical discussion coexist.

Broken Promises Exhibit
Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre
Burnaby, BC

“Broken Promises” is a nationally travelling museum exhibit that explores the dispossession of Japanese Canadians in the 1940s. It incorporates stories and objects informed by research, including over 250,000 archival documents, oral histories, photographs, letters, and artifacts. The story unfolds by following seven narrators, educating the public about the lives of Japanese Canadians in Canada before the Second World War, the administration of their lives during and after war ends, and how legacies of dispossession continue to this day.

La forge en partage
Les Forges de Montréal
Montreal, QC

La forge en partage is a seven-part web series featuring three traditional blacksmiths from the Forges de Montréal, a blacksmith, a stonemason, an urban farmer, and an archaeologist. During the seven episodes, audiences see the importance of traditional trades for the preservation of Canadian history and heritage, as well as the close ties between traditional trades and the community. An event featuring an online chat was also organized to bring together fans of the series to meet the artisans and ask questions.

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