Exploration and innovation were the two prevalent themes at The Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s annual College of Fellows Dinner held at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que. on November 16.
Among the luminaries in attendance were HIH Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, and Princess Saba Kebede, whom the RCGS was honoured to host as part of a trip commemorating the 1967 visit to Canada of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I.
Distinguished guests included Hon. Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Hon. John Manley, former Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Canada, Alex Trebek, host of Jeopardy! and Honourary President of the RCGS, Dr. Roger Crofts, Chair of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS) and Mike Robinson, Chief Executive Officer of the RSGS.
Also in attendance were RCGS Explorer-in-Residence Jill Heinerth, bestselling author and RCGS Flag Explorer Adam Shoalts, Honourary Vice-President Louie Kamookak, Senator Michael McDonald, MP Will Amos, Superintendent J. Greg Peters, Usher of the Black Rod, and Geoff Green, Executive Director of Students on Ice, leader of the Canada C3 expedition and an RCGS Flag Explorer.
Here are eight of the best moments from geography's biggest night:
1. We honoured former heads of state, educators, explorers and geographers
The annual medal ceremony, which preceded the College of Fellows Dinner, awarded and recognised 19 individuals who have made profound contributions to the field of geography — or aided the Society in fulfilling its mandate of making Canada better known to Canadians and to the world.
Dr. David Morrison, Arctic archaeologist
Sir David Attenborough, broadcaster and writer
Gordon Lightfoot, singer-songwriter
John Turner, Canada's 17th Prime Minister
Lawrence J. Burpee Medal
Jimmy Carter, former president of the United States
Andrew Prossin, founder and managing director, One Ocean Expeditions
Jody Decker, Professor Emeritus of geography, Wilfrid Laurier University
Phil Howarth, Professor Emeritus of geography, University of Waterloo
Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration
Wade Davis, anthropologist and author
Pat and Baiba Morrow, mountaineers, photojournalists and filmmakers
Martin Bergmann Medal
Martin Fortier, Executive Director, Sentinel North at Université Laval
Capt. Joseph-Elzéar Bernier Medal
Phyllis Arnold, publisher of educational resources
Shelagh Grant, educator, historian and author
Jon Grant, business leader and philanthropist
Bob Ramsay, president of Ramsay Inc.
Mike Robinson, CEO, Royal Scottish Geographical Society
Geographic Literacy Award
Innovation in Geography Teaching Award
2. We inducted our first royal since 1930 into the Society's College of Fellows
HIH Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie is the first royal to be inducted into the College of Fellows since Edward, Prince of Wales, became a Fellow in 1930.
HIH Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie with @RCGS_SGRC Honorary President — and @Jeopardy host — Alex Trebek, and the Hon. @LGLizDowdeswell, accepting an the title of Honorary Fellow at #RCGS17. pic.twitter.com/MMCvrAj1zG
— Ethiopian Crown (@EthiopianCrown) November 17, 2017
3. We announced big plans for our new home at 50 Sussex Drive in Ottawa
RCGS President Gavin Fitch gave an update on exciting plans for the landmark new home for The Royal Canadian Geographical Society and Canadian Geographic, 50 Sussex, which will also house Canada's Centre for Geography and Exploration. After hosting two exhibitions this summer, the building is now closed for extensive renovations to the lower levels, and will reopen in spring 2018.
4. We signed an MOU with The Royal Scottish Geographical Society
At the Annual General Meeting held at 50 Sussex earlier in the day, the RCGS and the RSGS entered into a partnership. The MOU will see the sister organizations work together to stengthen ties and lay the groundwork for future collaboration.
5. We introduced the newest One Ocean Expeditions vessel
RCGS CEO John Geiger, President Gavin Fitch and Honourary President Alex Trebek presented the ensign and certificate for One Ocean Expeditions' newest vessel, the RCGS Resolute, to founder and managing director Andrew Prossin.
6. We asked RCGS Fellows to help us perfect our next Giant Floor Map
At 50 Sussex, we presented a miniature mock-up of our next Can Geo Education Giant Floor Map, which was funded by generous donations made by the College of Fellows and focuses exclusively on Newfoundland and Labrador. We invited Fellows to make suggestions for the map.
— The RCGS/La SGRC (@RCGS_SGRC) November 16, 2017
7. Wade Davis gave us hope for the planet's future
In his keynote address, the renowned anthropologist and ethnobotanist shared photographs and insights from his travels to some of the most remote places on Earth, including the heart of the Amazon rainforest. Indigenous peoples the world over are leading the fight to protect the planet's ecosystems from anthropogenic threats, Davis says, and it is on all of us to listen and learn from their efforts.
8. We played on a map with Alex Trebek
The world-famous host of Jeopardy! and the Honourary President of the RCGS engaged with students from Ashbury College on our new Route 338 Giant Floor Map at 50 Sussex before the Annual General Meeting. This democracy-themed educational resource is the newest addition to Can Geo Education's collection of Giant Floor Maps available free to teachers across Canada.
Sincere thanks to Alex Trebek, host of @Jeopardy as he took students from @ashburycollege on a trip across Canada’s 338 ridings this morning on the CPAC #route338 map #rcgs2017 pic.twitter.com/H3xXUrVrTJ
— CPAC (@CPAC_TV) November 16, 2017