History is a complicated story. It is filled with dynamic people and intricate plot lines — of failures and achievements, of tragedy and hope. And, of course, history is not just one story, it’s many stories.
Across the country, dedicated individuals and organizations are sharing these stories as a way to bring context and clarity to the past, to guide us in our understanding of the present, and to inspire us to envision a better future together.
Canada’s National History Society is proud to introduce the 2021 recipients of the Governor General’s History Awards – an annual celebration of those who make the past relevant, engaging, and accessible.
“The 2021 award recipients show tremendous leadership in researching and sharing Canadian history so we may better understand our world today,” said Janet Walker, President & CEO of Canada’s History Society. “Their work will undoubtedly make a lasting impact on their students, communities, and the Canadian public as a whole.”
The 2021 laureates will be celebrated at Rideau Hall this fall, alongside the 2022 awards recipients.
The Governor General’s History Awards are administered by Canada’s History Society and recognize excellence in five categories: Community Programming, Popular Media, Teaching, Museums (in partnership with the Canadian Museums Association), and Scholarly Research (in partnership with the Canadian Historical Association).
GOVERNOR GENERAL’S HISTORY AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING
Designed by teacher Michel Blades Bird, Keeping Tobacco Sacred is an initiative that fosters a reconnection to land, culture, and language for youth growing up in government care.
Elementary teacher Jacqueline Cleave led a project to make the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s ninety-four calls to action more accessible to younger learners.
Judette Dumel invited her Grade 7 students to discover the importance of immigration in Canadian history, particularly the Afro-Canadian diaspora. Composed of many different activities, the project encouraged students, among other things, to write a bibliographical account of a historical figure of the Afro-Canadian diaspora.
The Westwood Historical Society, a school organization led by teacher Kelly Hiebert and his students at Westwood Collegiate, has created a documentary on the rise of hate and antisemitism in Canada.
In collaboration with the Network School, the Montreal Holocaust Museum and the Monique Fitz-Back Foundation, Denise LeBlanc designed her project with the intention of raising the awareness of her Grade 5 and 6 students on the events surrounding the Holocaust and the concepts of antisemitism and racism.
For more than a decade, high school history teacher Mark Perry has guided his students in commemorative research projects that research key moments in the first and second world wars and share the stories of soldiers and veterans from their community.
GOVERNOR GENERAL’S HISTORY AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN MUSEUMS: HISTORY ALIVE!
Conceived and presented as a project that foregrounds Inuit voices, expertise, and engagement, the Textile Museum of Canada’s partnership with the West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative made possible a process of collaboration with the Kinngait community, resulting in mutually beneficial research, educational programs, and an exhibition tour.
GOVERNOR GENERAL’S HISTORY AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN SCHOLARLY RESEARCH
In Dammed: The Politics of Loss and Survival in Anishinaabe Territory, Brittany Luby offers a vivid and timely illustration of the embodied legacies of settler colonialism on the bodies, lands, and lives of Indigenous peoples.
GOVERNOR GENERAL’S HISTORY AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN POPULAR MEDIA: THE BERTON AWARD
The Honourable Murray Sinclair, C.C., M.S.C., is a former lawyer, judge, Canadian senator, and is currently the Chancellor of Queen’s University. Sinclair’s work in deepening awareness of Canada’s shared and difficult history, coupled with a relentless commitment to build a better country moving forward, has restored forgotten and suppressed truths of the past.
GOVERNOR GENERAL’S HISTORY AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN COMMUNITY PROGRAMMING
The Reach Gallery Museum initiated a collaborative, multidisciplinary partnership with a number of Stó:lō leaders and knowledge keepers in British Columbia to reclaim the memory of a lake that once stretched between present-day Abbotsford and Chilliwack, British Columbia.
When the COVID-19 pandemic was at full strength in Canada and required the isolation of its population, writer and journalist Janette Bertrand, profoundly affected by the fate and isolation of seniors, created a stimulating activity for them to write their memories while leaving a collective imprint of this pivotal time in our history.