2023 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 20, 2023

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 and a trip for two to Ottawa to receive their award.

Congratulations to the featured projects!

South Asian Canadian Legacy Project
South Asian Studies Institute at the University of the Fraser Valley (formerly the Centre for Indo-Canadian Studies)
Abbotsford, British Columbia

The "South Asian Canadian Legacy Project” aims to raise awareness and knowledge of the valuable contributions of South Asian Canadians to British Columbia’s diverse cultures, history, heritage, economy, and society. The project was grounded in comprehensive new research and community engagement and includes a variety of resources and activities, including a digital archive, traveling exhibits and educational resources.

80e anniversaire de la Bataille du Saint-Laurent
Société d'histoire militaire de l'Est du Québec
Petite-Vallée, Quebec

The year 2022 marked the 80th anniversary of the start of the Battle of the St. Lawrence. Several key events in the Second World War took place around the Gaspé Peninsula. Over the course of a year, the Société d'histoire militaire de l'Est du Québec planned a variety of commemorative, educational, and public activities to mark these tragic events, which today occupy an important place in Canadian military history.

Japanese Canadian Histories in Southern Alberta: Time Map, Audio Journey, Memory Booth
Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden
Lethbridge, Alberta

The Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden collaborated with the Nikkei Memory Capture Project (NMCP) to create an innovative project that shares the histories of Japanese Canadians in southern Alberta. The project aims to make these histories publicly accessible and return the stories to the Japanese-Canadian community. It includes three installations: a “time map” exhibit that features the stories of the waves of migration of Japanese Canadians into Alberta; digital audio journeys that weave in oral histories; and an immersive “memory booth,” where visitors can opt to leave their own memories and experiences and contribute to the collection of stories.

History Day in Kagawong
Billings Museum Committee
Kagawong, Ontario

“History Day in Kagawong” is an annual 90-minute storytelling gathering, hosted by the Billings Museum in Kagawong, Ontario. It is an opportunity to immerse local residents and tourists alike in the community connections to local, national and international events. The 2022 event focused on the Empress of Ireland, a passenger liner that sunk in the St. Lawrence River in 1914, and brought together researchers, historians and descendants of victims to exchange stories about one of Canada’s deadliest maritime disasters.

Mettre en lumière l'histoire des femmes : le comité Mémoire des femmes
Comité Mémoire des Femmes de la Fédération Histoire Québec
Montreal, Quebec

Mettre en lumière l'histoire des femmes was designed to highlight and strengthen women’s history through rigorous research and a broad public campaign. Each week, this committee posts a new profile about a woman or a group of women, based on a monthly theme (women in politics, artists, women from Indigenous communities, activist movements, etc.). Thanks to an innovative communications strategy, seventy videos profiles have been shared to date and engaged a wide audience. The committee has also created the Prix Madeleine-Juneau, which rewards projects developed in the field of women's history.

From Time to Time in Strathcona County
Strathcona County
Sherwood Park, Alberta

“From Time to Time in Strathcona County” is an interactive online historical timeline project that offers readers a chronological journey through the experiences of people in Strathcona County, Alberta. The project combines curated archival photos, maps, and historical attributes with researched narratives, covering the region's history from pre-contact and early European settlement to the war years and the transformative oil era. The project connects residents, organizations, schools, and newcomers with the area's unique heritage, fostering a stronger sense of belonging and stewardship.

Path To Reconciliation Mural
Creative City Centre Inc.
Regina, Saskatchewan

The "Path To Reconciliation Mural Project,” a collaboration between the Creative City Centre and Regina Downtown Business Improvement District, as well as with Indigenous artists and Elders, transformed an 8-foot-wide, 350-foot-long pedestrian path in Regina, Saskatchewan, into a vibrant symbol of reconciliation. More than 200 volunteers joined forces to paint the mural, which was unveiled on National Indigenous Peoples Day, June 21, 2023, with a ceremony that included a song and procession led by the Kawacatoose Boys, a local powwow dance group.

UNE HISTOIRE VIVANTE :  René Derouin et ses Territoires des Amériques
Centre d'exposition de Val-David
Val-David, Quebec

In this project, art, culture and history came together around the monumental work of internationally renowned multidisciplinary artist René Derouin. Derouin's story is intimately linked to the story of Val-David. With seven performances a day, visitors were able to enjoy a free immersive cinematic experience for almost a month. Projected onto a giant dome installed in the village's old church, director Patrick Bossé's film Territoires des Amériques revisited Derouin's sixty years of practice in a sensitive and captivating way.

Keeping the Song Alive
Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art
Vancouver, British Columbia

“Keeping the Song Alive” is an exhibition guest curated by Cheryl Kaka‘solas Wadhams and co-developed with the Jewish Museum & Archives of BC. It shares the mostly unknown story of the decades-long work between ethnomusicologist Dr. Ida Halpern and the late Kwakwaka’wakw Chiefs Billy Assu and Mungo Martin to document hundreds of sacred and traditional songs that otherwise would have been erased due to the Potlatch Ban and suppression of Northwest Coast Indigenous culture.

Craft at Risk
Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador
St. John’s, Newfoundland

The "Craft at Risk" project aims to assess, preserve, and revive historic crafts and skills in Newfoundland and Labrador. Through a mentor-apprentice program spanning the past two years, thirty instructors held sixty-seven training events with more than 1,000 participants, resulting in the documentation of more than twenty historic skills through photographs, videos, oral history interviews, podcasts, and online archives, ensuring the preservation and accessibility of this cultural heritage.

La mise en valeur de la culture des Pekuakamiulnuatsh à l’ère numérique
Société d'histoire et d'archéologie de Mashteuiatsh
Mashteuiatsh, Quebec

The Société d'histoire et d'archéologie de Mashteuiatsh began this project by installing new software to manage its collections and archives. This operation helped secure data archiving, put in place high-performance tools to facilitate research, and make little-known collections even more accessible to the Pekuakamiulnuatsh, researchers and the general public. A second phase of the project involved launching the www.cultureilnu.ca website, a platform designed to disseminate the tangible and intangible culture of the Pekuakamiulnuatsh. The site's interactive stations allow users to learn more about the history of the First Nation, its language (Nelueun), its way of life on the land as well as its tales and legends.

Len & Cub: A Queer History Exhibit
Queer Heritage Initiative of New Brunswick
Fredericton, New Brunswick

The Queer Heritage Initiative of New Brunswick (QHINB) unveiled an exhibit featuring photographs from the lives of Leonard Olive Keith and Joseph Austin "Cub" Coates, a same-sex couple in rural New Brunswick in the early 20th century. This exhibit, created in conjunction with the release of the book Len & Cub: A Queer History, helped share their story with a broader audience and included thirty images with bilingual descriptions and panels highlighting historical context and biographical information. The exhibit made history by being the first of its kind at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton.  

The Paper Trail to the 1923 Chinese Exclusion Act
Chinese Canadian Military Museum
Sechelt, British Columbia

"The Paper Trail to the 1923 Chinese Exclusion Act" is a comprehensive project initiated by community historian Catherine Clement to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Canada's Chinese Exclusion Act. It began with crowdsourcing high-resolution scans of identity documents (C.I. certificates) and personal stories from Chinese Canadian families, creating a national online archive. The project culminated in a national exhibition, featuring stories of those directly impacted by the Exclusion Act, shedding light on a dark chapter in Canadian history, and showcasing over 400 C.I. certificates.

Kahnawà:ke Oral History Project
Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke and the Kanien’kehá:ka Onkwawén:na Raotitióhkwa Language & Cultural Center
Kahnawá:ke, Quebec

The "Kahnawà:ke Oral History Project" sought to preserve the cultural heritage of Kahnawà:ke through oral histories. Interviews with twenty-five community Elders and their families were held over a two-year period, giving voice to the Elders and highlighting the cultural heritage of Kahnawà:ke through their stories and remembrances of families, the land, community life, and more. The project culminated in the premiere of "Resistance and Resilience: Stories and Remembrances of our Elders," an hour-long video featuring highlights from the interviews. These precious stories and remembrances are now preserved for future generations in Kahnawà:ke, ensuring the continuation of the oral tradition and cultural heritage.

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