The Canadian Geographic Challenge, now in its 20th anniversary year, will bring 20 young geography whizzes from across Canada to Ottawa in early May.

The students, from Grade 7 - 10, were named School Champions and competed at the provincial or territorial level before being invited to the National Championship. This is the first in-person competition since 2002.

The students will first compete in private trials in Ottawa before the top five competitors face off publicly on May 4 at the Canadian Museum of Nature. Ahead of the finals, get to know the students who have made it this far:

Aaron Abraham

School: Connect Charter School, Calgary, Alta.
Grade: 8
What do you like about geography?
I like to explore new and different cultures. I always have a passion for learning new cultures, especially how they treat others, their beliefs and their customs. Which geography has allowed me to explore in depth. I’m also interested in physical geography – understanding more about the terrains, natural landmarks etc.

What kind of job do you want?
I would like to pursue my career in international law. I would like to become a diplomat with Canadian government or with UN. Having a good understanding of different countries and cultures, it was always my dream to represent Canada on a global stage.


Abir Elahi

School: Islington Junior Middle School, Etobicoke, Ont.
Grade: 8
What do you like about geography?
I like understanding the different components of geography. From culture, cities, locations, and food, everything can be interesting. However, putting everything in your head can take a while. Even because of this, geography is a vast and attractive subject in the eyes of the beholder.

What kind of job do you want?
I am thinking of going into medical sciences, (e.g., surgeon) or going into engineering. However, I will most likely become a doctor, because I want to save lives and give people another chance at life.

Adrian Martin

School: Riverdale Collegiate Institute, Toronto
Grade: 10
What do you like about geography?
What I like about geography is that it shows you a new way to look at the world and open your eyes to come of the world’s challenges.

What kind of job do you want?
Finance, banking, engineering.


Anzo Nguyen

School: Henry Wise Wood High School, Calgary, Alta.
Grade: 10
What do you like about geography?
I have a passion for geography because I am fascinated with different places and the cultures, customs, cuisines, etc. there. I also love to see the wonderful natural landscapes of Canada and around the world.

What kind of job do you want?
I plan on becoming an astronaut in the future. The challenge of working in space, exploring the unknown and pushing the limits of scientific knowledge has always piqued my interest.


Bartlomiej Mozdzen

School: St. John’s Kilmarnock School, Waterloo Region, Ont.
Grade: 10
What do you like about geography?
I liked geography originally as a small child because my dad gave us questions when we were waiting for something. Now though I have to like it more because it allows you to possess worldly knowledge.

What kind of job do you want?
Some of my current career interests are to pursue law or business.


Bobby Liang

School: Windfields Junior High School, North York, Ont.
Grade: 9
What do you like about geography?
I like the pure essence of understanding of the world through geography. I have found that with geography, I have adapted to the many verses of the earth. Being geographically savvy has helped me become more of an international individual with my knowledge. What kind of job do you want? I have a strong passion for the arts, mainly fashion and architecture. I have also considered becoming a leader figure, I believe that I too have a responsibility to make a difference in this world.


Frank Wang

School: Halifax Grammar School, Halifax, N.S.
Grade: 7
What do you like about geography?
How it shows how vast and diverse our world is. I have always liked to see satellite images or road maps ever since I was in school. I find the fact … no two places are the same to be absolutely magnificent.
 

What kind of job do you want?
Anything scientific/literary. Maybe a musician.


Henry La Prairie

School: Brother Rice Junior High, St. John’s, N.L.
Grade: 9
What do you like about geography?
I find learning about the world around me very interesting, as well as being a fun pastime.

What kind of job do you want?
My career interests include diplomacy as well as law.


James Cogswell

School: Evergreen Park School, Moncton, N.B.
Grade: 8
What do you like about geography?
Most of my geography knowledge has been picked up over the years from random fact books, webpages, and TV shows. (Although likely owning an atlas since I was 7 likely helped.) I enjoy learning new things , and geography is definitely one of the best ways to do so.

What kind of job do you want?
My first dream job was to be a pilot. (An interest I picked up, oddly enough, from airplane crash shows.) My eagerness to pilot has faded, however. Now, I really don’t know what I want to do when I grow up!


Jessica Cao

School: St. Robert Catholic High School, Thornhill, Ont.
Grade: 9
What do you like about geography?
I like geologic history. Studying how the landscape today gradually came into being is really fascinating. Also, I feel like studying geologic history gives one a new perspective on time, or even on philosophy. Compared to the lengths of the geological eras, the length of the existence of a species is minuscule. It’s interesting to perceive time on a cosmological scale. I like political geography as well. The influence people and land have on each other is interesting to study.

What kind of job do you want?
Cardiologist, radiation oncologist, something to do with nuclear engineering, or urban planner.


Josh Schat

School: London District Christian Secondary School, London, Ont.
Grade: 9
What do you like about geography? I like how geography is put together.

What kind of job do you want?
Mechanical engineer.


Kirsten MacDonald

School: École des Trois-Soleils, Iqaluit, Nunavut
Grade: 8
What do you like about geography?
I enjoy having all this knowledge because you never know when you are going to need it. Also I like learning new stuff.

What kind of job do you want?
My main interests are biological anthropology and forensic criminology. I would also like to know more about genealogy.


Kristiaan van den Hoeven

School: Centennial Regional High School, Greenfield Park, Quebec
Grade: 8
What do you like about geography?
I find the squiggly borders of countries in their regularity calming, and I enjoy knowing where things are. I like learning about cultures and languages and people. I like the detail of maps. I love travelling. I also adore reading articles and knowing where the locations are.

What kind of job do you want?
I want to be a diplomat/ambassador and work for either Great Britain, the Netherlands or Canada. I also think that I might want to become a professor in a university and teach linguistics or geography.


Kyle Peach

School: Alpha Secondary School, Burnaby, BC
Grade: 9
What do you like about geography?
I like to learn about other cultures and countries.

What kind of job do you want?
I haven’t decided yet, but I would like to do something involving computers.


Malhaar Moharir

School: University of Toronto Schools, Toronto, Ont.
Grade: 8
What do you like about geography?
Geography allows us to understand cultural or physical aspects of today’s multi-connected and complex world; so that we can be more aware and appreciate the different people around us. Another thing I like about geography is its vastness and the role it plays in our everyday lives. For example, we dress depending on the weather, plan our trips to and from school (or work), the trucks that carry fresh produce to our grocery store; it all depends on geography. Specifically for me, I have a wanderlust for travelling. Geography allows me to plan vacations with my family about places to visit, interesting facts about our destination, etc.

What kind of job do you want?
I am not too sure about what I would finally like to do, but I would like to pursue a career in astronomy. I would also consider looking into medical science or biology.


Matthew Foley

School: St. Henry’s Sr., Melville, Sk.
Grade: 8
What do you like about geography? Everything, favourite is natural disasters, how countries are made, capitals.

What kind of job do you want?
Anything in physics. Nuclear physicist.


Mitchell Barnes

School: St. John’s-Ravenscourt School, Winnipeg, MB.
Grade: 7
What do you like about geography?
Mapping. Learning about different places, people, customs.

What kind of job do you want?
Engineering. Computer programmer.


Nico Quinn

School: Vancouver College, Vancouver, BC.
Grade: 8
What do you like about geography?
I like learning about different parts of the world and the various cultures around the globe. I also enjoy geography because you get to look at many physical and man-made features prevalent in our world today.

What kind of job do you want?
Some career interests for me would either be civil engineering, ski guiding, graphic design or journalism.


Patrick Prochazka

School: Pickering College, Newmarket, Ont.
Grade: 9
What do you like about geography?
Travelling. Learning about new places in the world. Getting a better understanding of different cultures and traditions.

What kind of job do you want?
Science. Geography. Law.


Sameer Esmail

School: Burnaby Mountain Secondary School, Burnaby, BC.
Grade: 8
What do you like about geography?
Well, I really enjoy it because it helps me understand the complexity of the world. I have always wanted to travel and it teaches me more about places in the world that I can visit and learn about.

What kind of job do you want?
I have always wanted to become a doctor. I would like to use what I have learned from geography to help people around the world.