||December 2013 issue
News from The Royal Canadian Geographical Society
BOREAL FOREST MAP BEGINS TOUR
Photo: Matt Zambonin/CRA Events
Canadians now have a novel way of exploring the boreal forest — with a new
Canadian Geographic Education giant floor map, which kicked off its crosscountry
tour on Oct. 2 at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa.
The 11-by-8-metre Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement map was created in
partnership with the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement Secretariat. As part of the
secretariat’s On the Move campaign, the map will spend the next year touring
Canadian schools and communities.
“Few issues in Canada are as vast and as vital as the boreal forest,” said John
Geiger, chief executive officer of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, at the
event’s cocktail reception, which followed an earlier session where local students
(above) explored the map. “The map encourages students to take a walk in the
woods and consider questions from conservation to biofuels. In the process, they’ll
strengthen their critical thinking skills and become more spatially and geographically
Aran O’Carroll, the secretariat’s executive director, said the map provides the
opportunity to reach out “not just to decision-makers but to youth, and ensure they
understand and appreciate the boreal forest and the challenges found there.”
For information about the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement map’s next stop
(and about other giant floor maps), visit education.canadiangeographic.ca.
— Siobhan McClelland
Energy was the hot topic at Shell Canada’s
recent Canadian Innovation Summit in
Vancouver, where one of Canadian Geographic
Education’s flagship programs shared
The Classroom Energy Diet Challenge,
a national competition that Canadian
Geographic Education runs in partnership with
Shell Canada, promotes energy awareness and
conservation in schools. It was one of many
exhibitors at the Oct. 7 summit, which saw
industry experts, scientists and educators
gather to discuss energy innovations and
opportunities in Canada. Speakers included
former astronaut Chris Hadfield and Christy
Clark, the premier of British Columbia.
— Michela Rosano
NEW EXPEDITION GRANT LEVELS
The Royal Canadian Geographical Society is
encouraging women and First Nations
explorers to participate in its expeditions
program through a series of new grants.
The grants allocate up to $5,000 for
expeditions with female or First Nations
leadership and participation. The new grants
include an Expedition of the Year grant of up to
$15,000 for a project with significant implications
for Canadian geography, as well as seed
grants of up to $3,000.
For more information on the expeditions
program, visit rcgs.org/programs/expeditions.
— Heather Yundt
The drafters of the St. John’s Declaration (Photo: Gerry Boland/CP)
Just three months after gathering in support of geographic education in Canada,
a community of educators has received affirmation for its vision and action
plan, as delineated in the St. John’s Declaration. The declaration, the product of
last summer’s meeting in Newfoundland and Labrador’s capital, has already been
endorsed by the Canadian Association of Geographers, Canadian Geographic
Education, The Royal Canadian Geographical Society and the Ontario Association
of Geographic and Environmental Education. The declaration is listed below:
We affirm that spatially literate citizens are essential to the future of Canada,
and in particular:
We have therefore agreed that we will:
- the development of a coherent and relevant geographic education is essential to
understand and address the issues faced by a rapidly changing world;
- geographic education is built upon the fundamental elements of location,
interaction, community, people, place, space and environment;
- there is an urgent need to improve, update and advance geographic education in
the context of economic, social and environmental issues facing Canadians, and
Canada in a global arena;
- studying the world, its people, communities and cultures with an emphasis on
relations of and across space and place are crucial;
- spatial thinking increasingly informs scholarship in the natural sciences, social
sciences, health sciences and humanities; it is also closely associated with science,
technology, engineering and mathematics; and
- Canada will remain a leader in science and technological innovation with the
development of geography in areas related to geospatial technologies and Earth
- inspire Canadians to value geography and spatial thinking;
- promote geography as a discipline that integrates the natural sciences, social
sciences and humanities;
- provide leadership in geographic education across Canada;
- enhance support for geographic educators; and
- support geographic education research.
RCGS CELEBRATES HONOUREES AT ANNUAL DINNER
Explorers and artists were among those recognized for their contributions to
geography at The Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s annual College of
Fellows Dinner on Nov. 13 at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau,
Que. The 2013 award winners are listed below.
Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration
Jill Heinerth, for her 20-year
career as an award-winning underwater
cave explorer and filmmaker.
Gold Medal (achievements in geography)
Robert Bateman, for helping make The
Royal Canadian Geographical Society a
leading educational force in Canada.
The Mapping Information Branch of Natural Resources Canada, for recently
completing topographic mapping of
Canada at 1:50,000 scale.
Michael Palin, the renowned adventurer and comedian, for his contributions to
Camsell Medal (outstanding volunteer service to the RCGS)
Sir Christopher Ondaatje, the explorer
and philanthropist, for unwavering
dedication to the Society.
Massey Medal (outstanding career achievement in Canadian geography)
David Ley, of the University of British
Columbia’s geography department.
Martin Bergmann Medal (excellence in Arctic leadership and science)
David Hik, former executive director of
the Canadian International Polar Year
Geographic Literacy Award
Anne Smith Mansfield, geography
instructor in the faculty of education
at Queen’s University.
Innovation in Geography Teaching Award
Andrew Young, of G.P. Vanier
Secondary School in Courtenay, B.C.
3M Environmental Innovation Award
Jeff Golfman, president of Prairie Pulp
& Paper Inc., for innovations in the
industry and charitable work with Green
— Marika McKenzie
FRESH FACES AT CG EDUCATION
Six new regional representatives of
Canadian Geographic Education’s executive
committee were announced on Oct. 16. The
committee is now working on fulfilling the
strategic plan developed in 2012. The new
Alberta Greg Neil, Calgary
British Columbia Jozsef Budai, Coquitlam
Ontario Kim Wallace, Burlington
Atlantic John Trites, Berwick, N.S.
Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon Geoff Buerger, Ulukhaktok, N.W.T. (reinstated for another three-year term)
Manitoba Rob Langston, Brandon (reinstated for another three-year term)
The term of Chantal Déry, the Quebec
representative, ends in June 2014.
Saskatchewan currently has no representation.
To learn more about the new representatives,
— Michela Rosano
BATEMAN GETS ON THE MAP
Canadian painter Robert Bateman captivated students at his namesake school in Ottawa on Nov. 12 with tales of his recent travels in Africa. During the event, Robert Bateman Public School students used Canadian Geographic Education’s giant floor map “Parks Canada: Places and Spaces for Everyone.” Bateman spoke at The Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s annual College of Fellows Dinner the following evening, where he was presented with the Society’s Gold Medal.
— Michela Rosano
TEACHER AN AWARD FINALIST
Connie Wyatt Anderson, chair of Canadian
Geographic Education and a teacher at Oscar
Lathlin Collegiate in the Opaskwayak Cree
Nation, Man., is a finalist for the 2013
Governor General’s History Award for
Excellence in Teaching. Awards will be
presented on Nov. 18 during the annual
Canada’s History Forum at the Canadian War
Museum in Ottawa.
— Michela Rosano
Alexandra Shackleton and Tim Jarvis at Ernest
Shackleton’s gravesite on South Georgia Island. (Photo: Jo Stewart/Shackleton Epic)
A live donkey is better than a dead lion,” Ernest Shackleton, the renowned British
explorer, once said. He was referring to his 1907 to 1909 Nimrod expedition,
and the difficult decision to turn back with just 180 kilometres left to the South Pole.
“He could’ve been the first, but because of that decision, Roald Amundsen did it in
1911,” says Alexandra Shackleton, the explorer’s granddaughter. “But his priorities
were his men. They were in bad physical condition, and might have died there.”
When Shackleton (whose father, Lord Edward Shackleton, was a Royal Canadian
Geographical Society Fellow) enthuses about her grandfather’s achievements and
leadership, her pride is palpable. Fittingly, she’s life-president of the James Caird
Society, which preserves the memory of Ernest Shackleton and honours his feats.
Since taking the society’s helm in 1994, Shackleton has seen public enthusiasm for
her grandfather’s exploits surge. She has named no fewer than three ships, including
the Antarctic research vessel Ernest Shackleton, and frequently represents the James
Caird Society at polar research- and exploration-related events. She has contributed
forewards to books on Antarctic exploration and leadership, and consults on films.
In 2008, Shackleton sought out British-Australian adventurer Tim Jarvis, to recreate
her grandfather’s 1916 mission to save his stranded men — the end of the 1914 to
1916 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. In February 2013, she met Jarvis and the
“Shackleton Epic” crew on South Georgia Island, in the South Atlantic, after they
sailed nearly 1,500 kilometres from Antarctica’s Elephant Island and scaled the
mountains of South Georgia.
Even as the James Caird Society prepares for the Imperial Trans-Antarctic
Expedition’s 2014 centennial, Shackleton is still astonished by her grandfather’s legacy.
“The more I learn about him, the more I wish I’d known him,” she says.
— Nick Walker
Learn more about Ernest Shackleton and the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition at
jamescairdsociety.com. For the Shackleton Epic expedition, go to shackletonepic.com.
PM’S NORTHERN TOUR
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, John
Geiger, the chief executive officer of The
Royal Canadian Geographical Society, and
Ryan Harris, a Parks Canada underwater
archeologist, discuss the search for the
Franklin expedition ships aboard the Sir
Wilfrid Laurier, near Gjoa Haven, Nunavut,
during the prime minister’s eighth annual
tour of the North last summer.
KOUROUNIS GOES NORTH
George Kourounis, host
of the TV series Angry Planet, returned to the
small screen Nov. 10 to
14, when the story of his
Arctic voyage with One
Ocean Expeditions and
The Weather Network
aired on an episode of the
latter’s StormHunters. The trip began in Iqaluit
and ended in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut.
Les Stroud has
travelled to harsh
the globe while filming
his popular TV series
Survivorman. His book,
published on Nov. 19,
offers a glimpse of these places, the people
who live there and what they can teach us
TAYLOR CLAIMS TOP MAP PRIZE
Fraser Taylor was awarded the world’s highest
honour in cartography in September, when
he received the International Cartographic
Association’s Carl Mannerfelt Gold Medal.
The Carleton University professor was
recognized for his work mapping the
socio-economic and cultural aspects of
places through cyber-cartography.
Can Geo POLL
What’s your favourite place to swim?