For more than one hundred years, Canada’s History, founded in 1920 as The Beaver, has shared the photographs and stories of people in Canada. When we published our special collector’s issue marking a century of publishing last year, we made a commitment to bring back The Beaver as a reimagined annual supplement that centres on Indigenous stories and storytellers — perspectives often pushed to the side or neglected altogether in the early days of the magazine.
We know that if we are to learn from history it is increasingly important to amplify the voices and to share the stories of all Canadians.
At the time of publishing, we find ourselves at an unparalleled moment in Canadian history with the installation of Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon as the thirtieth Governor General of Canada — a moment that resonates deeply with our promise to better reflect the lives and stories of those who live in this country. A former diplomat and journalist and a distinguished Inuk leader, Simon is the first Indigenous person to hold the viceregal position. She meets this moment in our shared history with a unique range of perspectives and experiences. She was born in Nunavik, in northern Quebec, and her father, Bob May (who was originally from Manitoba), ran the local Hudson’s Bay Company post, while her mother, Nancy May, was Inuk.
Throughout her life, Simon learned how to navigate between differing Inuit and non-Inuit worlds. She brings an understanding and strength to her new role, allowing her to act as a bridge between Canadians’ diverse lived experiences.
At her installation on July 26 Simon reminded us of the importance of learning about history to envision a better tomorrow, saying that she “will strive to hold together the tension of the past with the promise of the future.”
The Right Honourable Roméo LeBlanc, the twenty-fifth Governor General of Canada, similarly recognized the value of history and historical education when he established the Governor General’s History Awards in 1996.
A former teacher, LeBlanc helped to inspire a national recognition program for Canadian history teachers. Since then, more than two hundred teachers have been honoured, and the Governor General’s History Awards have expanded to include other deserving storytellers and organizations.
From teachers, authors, and scholars to curators, community volunteers, and more, the distinguished award recipients bring context and clarity to the past and inspire us to learn more about Canada and its many peoples.
For twenty-five years, Canada’s National History Society has been honoured to work with the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General to encourage excellence in educational and public programming about our history and heritage.
We look forward to working with Her Excellency Mary Simon as we continue to recognize important stories, the people they represent, and those who proudly share them.
“Embracing the real history of Canada,” Simon shared, “makes us stronger as a nation, unites Canadian society, and teaches our kids that we must always do our best, especially when it’s hard.”