Governor General’s History Awards

Governor General’s History Awards - 2021 Recipients

Governor General’s History Awards for Excellence in Teaching

Michel Blades Bird
Ranch Learning Centre, Lamont, Alberta

As a teacher who works with at-risk Indigenous youth, Michel Blades Bird creates projects that focus on student engagement and building positive relationships, in addition to curriculum delivery. Keeping Tobacco Sacred is an initiative that fosters a reconnection to land, culture and language for youth growing up in government care. As a personal and professional response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 calls to action, this project acknowledges the cultural genocide of Indigenous people that resulted from the residential school system.

Students follow the process of growing, drying, curing and preparing tobacco for ceremony. By returning to traditional growing practices, students appreciate the time that a seed takes to grow into a plant, how humans affect nature, wahkohtowin—the concept of interrelatedness,—and the invested thought that goes into a request for prayer from an Elder. The entire process and cycle, along with the accompanying knowledge, becomes a constant for youth who are disconnected or absent from their home communities, cultures and teachings. Keeping Tobacco Sacred fosters healthy life choices, miyopimâtisowin—the good life—and identity through land-based learning.

Jacqueline Cleave
École Laura Secord School, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Elementary teacher Jacqueline Cleave wants to help her students make sense of the world around them and to equip them with the skills and knowledge they need to be engaged citizens. Cleave led a project to make the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 calls to action more accessible to younger learners. Working together over a two-year period, students in three classes explored the calls to action, researched the issues they address and then rewrote them in child-friendly language.

The students visited the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, spoke with Indigenous leaders and conducted their own research to learn more about the history and legacy of colonization and the residential school system and to better understand the need for reconciliation. At the end of the project, the students published a book, Answering the Calls: A Child’s View of the 94 Calls to Action, which features the original and child-friendly texts, as well as art and poetry contributed by the students.

Learning about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, spending a year wrestling with its findings and helping to produce a resource to share with schools and libraries propelled students and their school community to move forward on a lifetime journey of reconciliation.

Judette Dumel
École secondaire publique Louis-Riel, Ottawa, Ontario

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. Published on Book Creator, their work was shared with students at other schools to promote openness and discussion. The close relationship between art and history was also explored through representations of the men and women from the Afro‑Canadian diaspora. While paying attention to symbols and composition, the students used their new knowledge to create their own posters. During the year, Dumel’s classroom became a meeting place where members of the community were invited to share their experiences.

The project culminated with the exploration of the concept of being an ally, helping students to better understand the civic actions needed to support marginalized communities. For Dumel, studying these themes is essential so that students can recognize social stereotypes and become aware of the importance of openness and mutual aid.

Kelly Hiebert
Westwood Collegiate, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Kelly Hiebert creates a learning environment where students are empowered to use historical knowledge to challenge, question and discuss concerns that affect the world today. The Westwood Historical Society, a school organization led Hiebert and his students at Westwood Collegiate, has created a documentary on the rise of hate and antisemitism in Canada. The project, which centred on youth voices and perspectives, gave students an opportunity to reflect on history and to discuss concerns affecting the country today.

A key component of the students’ exploration was interviewing nine Holocaust survivors and including their testimonies as part of the film. Students also spoke with historians, educational experts and theologians, and connected with multiple organizations to learn more about the history and legacy of the Holocaust. Through studying historical injustices and discussing current examples of intolerance, students gained an appreciation for democracy and the desire to protect humanity. This documentary film will be a record of survivors’ testimonies and an important educational resource for other students, inspiring them to stand up and speak out for human rights.

Denise LeBlanc
École du Grand-Pavois de Saint-Yves, Rimouski, Quebec

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. Developed in collaboration with the Network School, the Montreal Holocaust Museum and the Monique Fitz-Back Foundation, the Heart of Auschwitz project was a way of encouraging students to familiarize themselves with a dark time in history while highlighting examples of empathy and caring.

Taking place over the entire school year, the students used technology to start off the project with a virtual visit to the Montreal Holocaust Museum. The students examined the Heart of Auschwitz artifact—a heart-shaped booklet that was given to Holocaust survivor Fania Fainer as a birthday card while she was in Auschwitz. When they discovered the history behind the object, the students decided to create their own versions and present them to the survivor who had made the original donation.

As they carried out the project, the students met with people from the museum, who came to demystify their role, and survivors, who came to bear witness to the horrors they experienced. Throughout the project, LeBlanc fostered moments of reflection and discussion necessary for the students to forge links between the past and the present and develop their historical empathy.

Mark Perry
Hampton High School, Hampton, New Brunswick

Mark Perry’s teaching philosophy is to develop inclusive and engaging environments in which students can learn through real-world authentic experiences. For more than a decade, Perry has guided his students in commemorative research projects that engage learners from Grades 1 to 12 across the Anglophone South School District. These projects have students research key moments in the First and Second World Wars and share the stories of soldiers and veterans from their community. To develop these narratives and biographies, students analyzed and interpreted hundreds of primary source documents and interviewed more than 60 veterans from their region. The accounts are shared in several published books and documentary films, with the volumes featuring the biographies of more than 180 people from New Brunswick and Wabanaki territory. 

Through this authentic investigation of history, Perry’s students enhanced their historical thinking skills and overall understanding of the participation of New Brunswickers in the two world wars. In the end, the project is also a substantial contribution to the overall understanding of the history of New Brunswick.

Governor General’s History Awards for Excellence in Community Programming

Semá:th Xó:tsa: Sts’ólemeqwelh Sxó:tsa
Sumas Lake: Great-Gramma’s Lake

The Reach Gallery Museum, Abbotsford, British Columbia

In 2020, 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.

For millennia, the lake was central to the cultural, spiritual and physical well-being of the area’s original occupants, the Séma:th people of the Stó:lō nation; however, a century ago, a system of canals, dykes and pumphouses were introduced to enhance the agricultural capacity of the region. The drainage of the lake had—and continues to have—a devastating impact on the lives and livelihood of the Séma:th people and other Indigenous communities. 

The initiative, titled Semá:th X̱ó:tsa: Sts’ólemeqwelh Sx̱ó:tsa/Sumas Lake: Great-Gramma’s Lake, resulted in a number of accessible, user-friendly resources to reach educators, students and the general public. A print and digital children’s history book was distributed to nearby school districts. An exhibition at The Reach Gallery Museum featured the children’s book and included a pronunciation recording with a Halq’eméylem language expert. An online video and resource kits reached further audiences during the pandemic. Using memory and story, this collaborative project recalls a time when the lake was thriving and invites the public to consider the ongoing repercussions of colonialism in their community.

Écrire sa vie!
Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal, CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal
Montréal, Quebec

In March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was at full strength in Canada and required Canadians to isolate, writer and journalist Janette Bertrand, C.C., C.Q., 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. 

To carry out her project, Bertrand sought the help of the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal of the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, already recognized for its expertise in promoting healthy habits for aging people. The people there quickly made it their mission to put her idea into action. As a result, the Écrire sa vie! project was developed and then promoted to seniors. To guide them in writing their autobiographies, Bertrand first posted a series of videos on the Internet and via the MAtv television station. The writing workshops facilitated support for the participants, who were encouraged to consult their loved ones for their research and ask for help from the younger generations for the more difficult technological aspects. Thanks to this project, which required memory, reflection and discussion, many seniors got through the confinement feeling a little less alone. 

By the end of the project, more than 2 000 autobiographies were submitted. A second series of videos hosted by Bertrand was launched in which she presented excerpts from authors’ stories, grouping them in various themes. In 2020, Écrire sa vie! was recognized by the Musée de la civilisation in Québec and recognized as a significant initiative to include as part of their project, Documentez la pandémie. The museum also acquired some of the seniors’ autobiographies to be kept in their collection for posterity.

Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Museums: History Alive!

Printed Textiles From Kinngait Studios
Textile Museum of Canada and West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative
Toronto, Ontario, and Kinngait, Nunavut

The 2019–22 exhibition Printed Textiles from Kinngait Studios tells the little-known story of a group of Inuit artists and printmakers who produced a collection of bold graphic textiles in Kinngait, Nunavut, in the 1950s and 1960s—a period of social change that disrupted traditional language and relationships to the land. 

While the exhibition was closed to visitors for several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Textile Museum of Canada took steps to bring the exhibition to the public with digital access for exploration and engagement. A virtual exhibition tour, along with a digital app featuring interviews with artists from Kinngait, images of their artworks and highlights of different aspects of Inuit culture, expanded the reach of the exhibition.

Conceived and presented as a project that centres 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. This resulted in mutually beneficial research, educational programs and an exhibition tour. Contemporary artists from Kinngait and other parts of Nunavut opened up conversations about the continued significance of these early printed fabrics and their importance in the history of Inuit cultural heritage today.

Governor General’s History Award for Scholarly Research

Dammed: The Politics of Loss and Survival in Anishinaabe Territory
Brittany Luby
Guelph, Ontario

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. Her analysis of the Treaty 3 region in Northwestern Ontario centres an area usually treated as peripheral in both official decision making and historical scholarship, and the resulting portrait of post-war hydroelectric development powerfully challenges the dominant narrative of universal post-Second World War prosperity in Canada.

The book is engaging and accessibly written, draws on deep and wide research in both oral and written sources, and makes important contributions to environmental history, women’s history and Indigenous studies. Along the way, Luby reveals the many ways in which the Anishinabeg of Dalles 38C Indian Reserve (who supported this research) saw their own ability to economically thrive persistently undermined by efforts designed to boost the prosperity of non‑Indigenous people elsewhere in the region.

As Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation Chief Lorraine Cobiness writes in the foreword: “When we teach history, we build common ground for the process of reconciliation.” For this reason, Dammed not only represents exemplary scholarship, but also deserves to be read and meditated upon by audiences well beyond the historical community.

Governor General’s History Award for Popular Media: The Pierre Berton Award

Murray Sinclair, C.C., M.S.C.
St. Andrews, Manitoba

The Honourable Murray Sinclair is a former lawyer, judge and Canadian senator, and is currently the Chancellor of Queen’s University. A member of the Peguis First Nation in Manitoba, Sinclair served as the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada from 2009 to 2015, an investigation involving several thousand Indigenous witnesses who offered testimony to bring to light systemic abuses to Indigenous people in Canadian society, and specifically within the Indian residential school system. 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.

The combined work of Sinclair and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was monumental in scale and scope, having created unique historical archives that document the experiences of multiple generations of Indigenous people. The records in their many forms give voice to grief and hurt, resilience and renewal. Furthermore, the Commission’s work, with its 94 calls to action, has been crucial in revealing the need for a new national narrative. Sinclair’s articulation of that mission has helped to create a profound shift in many Canadians’ understandings of this country’s history, while also charting a path forward based on respect, reciprocity and good relations. The work of history, Sinclair has shown us, must play a critical role in fulfilling the imperative of reconciliation.

Governor General’s History Awards - 2022 Recipients

Governor General’s History Awards for Excellence in Teaching

Cynthia Bettio
Our Lady Queen of the World Catholic Academy, Richmond Hill, Ontario

Among her peers, Cynthia Bettio is recognized for her pedagogical knowledge, leadership and creativity, and for designing projects that have real-world applications and benefits. Bettio’s students undertook a year-long project to investigate Canadian history from 1914 to the present through the lens of traditionally underrepresented groups, including Indigenous people, racialized Canadians and women. The course content was divided into six time periods, and students investigated each time period from the perspective of a different minority group. For each time period, students designed their own open-ended inquiry question, practised applying one of the six historical thinking concepts to their research and completed a short video reflection to document their learning process.

Students also created a set of five playing cards per time period, modelled on the Snapshots in Time cards developed by Dr. Lindsay Gibson, Dr. Catherine Duquette and The Critical Thinking Consortium. For each card, students had to choose an event or person to highlight, make a concise and compelling case for its historical significance, locate primary source images to represent the topic and design a digital card. Students then worked with a community partner, STEM Minds Inc., to code and design an online game using the 700 cards they created. Through this project, students combined rigorous historical work with innovative game design for a truly engaging and authentic learning experience.

Natasha Camacho
St. Catherine’s Elementary School, Halifax, Nova Scotia

To mark Black History Month, Natasha Camacho and her students studied the lives and achievements of several notable Canadians of African descent. They paid special attention to the little-known Dr. Clement Ligoure, Nova Scotia’s first Black doctor and a key participant in the effort to help the injured in the aftermath of the disastrous Halifax explosion of 1917.

By conducting in-depth historical research, Ms. Camacho’s class lifted the veil of mystery surrounding this historic Haligonian. The children quickly learned that Dr. Ligoure had lived and practised just a few steps from their school. They reported their findings in a variety of writing projects, through visual arts and by producing a documentary video which they presented to their school. In sharing what they had learned, they were astonished to realize that their families and neighbours, for the most part, had never heard of this important figure in their history.

To spread their discoveries beyond the classroom—and as an exercise in civic engagement—Ms. Camacho’s students wrote a letter to the mayor of Halifax asking the city to recognize Dr. Clement Ligoure’s legacy. The letter suggested installing a commemorative plaque in front of the house where the doctor had lived. The mayor forwarded the students’ proposal to the City’s heritage committee for review. Despite being only six or seven years old, Natasha Camacho’s students were actively engaged in their learning and felt they could make a positive difference in the world around them.

Carla Cooke and Tracey Salamondra
Hartney School, Hartney, Manitoba

Carla Cooke and Tracey Salamondra designed a cross-curricular, community-based project for their Grade 11 students to investigate the histories of their rural community. In the first semester, their eight students worked closely with the nearby Elgin & District Historical Museum to learn about the process of creating history, including research skills, oral history, working with evidence and artifacts, and using the historical thinking concepts. The students then put out a public call to meet, interview and collect stories from community members.

In the second semester, students learned about the craft of storytelling. Selecting their story topics, each student wrote three historical narratives that included original research and oral history interviews. In collaboration with the Whitewater Park Restoration Committee, the students’ stories were posted on interpretive panels throughout a new trail as part of the park’s expansion. In total, students created 23 stories that highlight important families, buildings and events in the community’s history.

As students in a small rural town who do not often see their history reflected in large, national narratives, this project provided them with an authentic opportunity to become local historians and to tell the stories that matter to their community.

Luisa Fracassi
St. Joan of Arc Catholic Academy, Toronto, Ontario

Luisa Fracassi strives to create learning opportunities for students that encourage historical thinking, celebrate diversity and advance social justice. Fracassi developed her Immigrant Voices project as an experiential learning opportunity for her diverse class of Grade 10 students. First, students attended two virtual tours and a workshop hosted by the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax. The tours explored immigrant experiences by using memoirs, interviews and primary sources, while the workshop explored the process of conducting oral history interviews. Using what they learned from Pier 21, students conducted an interview with a person who had immigrated to Canada, following the key steps of the oral history process, including obtaining consent, arranging a pre-interview, writing a question guide and transcribing the final interview. Students then used the interviews to create short historical narratives in a magazine format to tell the story of their subject’s experience immigrating to Canada.

Through this project, students gained first-hand experience doing oral history and had the opportunity to engage in meaningful, intergenerational learning with parents, grandparents and community members. As a result, students gained a deeper understanding of the experiences and perspectives of recent immigrants to Canada and connected their stories to the broader history of Canadian immigration.

Barbara A. Giroux
Holy Family School, Ottawa, Ontario

Barbara Ann Giroux knows that young learners need space for exploration, experimentation and hands-on experiences in order to develop a deep understanding of, and connection to, their world. With this in mind, her Grade 1 class embarked on a vibrant learning journey towards reconciliation. Through age-appropriate resources and books, including the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society’s Reconciliation Ambearrister program, Giroux introduced her young students to the history and legacy of the residential school system and encouraged them to consider their role in reconciliation.

From there, the students learned about the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and formulated the driving question of their inquiry: “Do you think all children in Canada have the same rights?” Each week, the students would investigate one of the articles under the convention and contrast it against case studies in Canada that revealed the inequities faced by Indigenous children and youth. They learned about Inuit disc numbers, issues with ongoing boil water advisories, food insecurity and inadequate housing in Canada, as well as youth activist Shannen Koostachin’s campaign to have a school built in her community of Attawapiskat First Nation. The students created posters to share their learning and posed their essential question to the older students in their school. Through this project, Giroux’s students developed critical‑thinking skills, demonstrated empathy and were empowered to use their knowledge of the past to make a difference in their community.

Jen Maxwell
W.J. Mouat Secondary, Abbotsford, British Columbia

As a settler educator, Jen Maxwell has been a champion of learning through story and seeking connections with Elders and knowledge keepers in local Indigenous communities. With the support of her school and colleagues, she created a cross-curricular project that allowed Grade 12 students in her large urban high school to earn multiple credits towards social studies, English language arts and career education. Students began with an Indigenous-focused course, where they explored topics in Indigenous history, with a particular focus on the legacy of colonial systems and structures. Maxwell grounded this learning in the First Peoples Principles of Learning, developed by the First Nations Education Steering Committee in British Columbia, and centred Indigenous voices, perspectives and ways of knowing.

Students looked closely at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s 94 calls to action and researched the progress that has been made to date. They then considered their individual roles and responsibilities towards reconciliation and selected one call to action to address. Students completed further research on a topic or issue that was introduced through the course and created an original project to showcase their learning and engage their targeted audience in an act of reconciliation. For both Maxwell and her students, reconciliation is at the heart of building stronger communities with critically minded and empathetic people in classrooms, cities and the country.

Governor General’s History Awards for Excellence in Community Programming

Live Our Heritage / Vivre notre héritage
Heritage Lower Saint Lawrence
Métis-sur-Mer, Quebec

Live Our Heritage / Vivre notre heritage was a two-year project to collect, preserve and share the history of Métis-sur-Mer, a small town in Quebec’s Lower St. Lawrence region. With a year‑round population of just over 500 people, Métis-sur-Mer is a popular vacation destination for people from near and far.

Through a variety of events, workshops and social media initiatives, community members shared their families’ stories of living in Métis-sur-Mer. In total, more than 50 oral histories were completed, with community members contributing more than 1 000 personal photos or memorabilia to the project. The project team identified the names of more than 100 veterans to include in a new physical and virtual war memorial. They also conducted new research to incorporate the pre-contact histories of the Indigenous people of the region.

Workshops encouraged participants to engage in traditional crafts, including rug-hooking, quilting and painting. Students from Metis Beach School learned about the region’s natural history and made benches to place throughout the town. Finally, the project team created or expanded five trails and posted online historical walking tours with maps, images, audio recordings and stories gathered through the oral history interviews.

This dynamic project had many opportunities for community members and visitors to contribute and to engage with the rich history of the region. The result was an increased sense of community pride and an enduring interest in, and understanding of, the area’s Anglophone, Francophone and Indigenous roots. 

Sur les traces de Dubuc
La Pulperie de Chicoutimi / Regional Museum
Chicoutimi, Quebec

Sur les traces de Dubuc is a five-episode narrative podcast set in the early 20th century. This documentary series, produced by La Pulperie de Chicoutimi / Regional Museum, puts listeners in the footsteps of Julien-Édouard-Alfred Dubuc, a man who dedicated his heart and soul to the development of Quebec’s Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region.

The series tells the fascinating story of a man who built a life and career as a banker, industrialist, politician, financier and business magnate. Produced and hosted by author and journalist Marie‑Julie Gagnon, accompanied by historian and museologist Gaston Gagnon, the series delves deeply into Dubuc’s life and legacy: his ambitions and career path; his achievements as an important and influential industrialist; his family life, revealed through his houses and villas; his political accomplishments; and the archives that keep his story and heritage alive.

The podcast episodes were recorded in heritage buildings associated with this noted historical figure. The project fulfills the museum’s vision to expand the historical knowledge of its unique National Historic Site, which includes the ruins of the Compagnie de pulpe de Chicoutimi, founded in 1896 and built between 1897 and 1921.

Produced by local podcasting specialist Balado Boréal, the podcast is distinguished by its distinctive graphic and sound design, an original music score and larger-than-life characters. Sur les traces de Dubuc speaks directly to members of the community—especially young adults—with a view to fostering their connection to a little-known story, a must-see iconic site and a museum designed especially for them.

Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Museums: History Alive!

Indigenous Voices of Today: Knowledge, Trauma, Resilience
McCord Stewart Museum
Montréal, Quebec

The McCord Stewart Museum’s new permanent exhibition, Indigenous Voices of Today: Knowledge, Trauma, Resilience, invites the public to connect with 11 Indigenous nations in Quebec. Visitors take the titular three-part journey, which begins by shedding light on unrecognized forms of Indigenous knowledge, continues by exploring a shared and traumatic history, and concludes by recognizing and celebrating the incredible capacities of Indigenous resilience.

Part of the McCord Stewart’s 100th anniversary, and an example of the institution’s decolonizing journey, the exhibition features 100 objects from the museum’s Indigenous Cultures collection, carefully selected by Innu curator Jean St-Onge. In collaboration with La Boîte Rouge Vif, an Indigenous non-profit dedicated to the preservation and transmission of cultural heritage, museum curator Élisabeth Kaine combined these 100 objects with more than 80 inspiring stories into a visually stunning visitor experience. Through engaging testimonies that prioritized Indigenous languages, speakers shared their dreams, experiences and plans for a better future—a future no longer undermined by assimilation. Additionally, Indigenous designers and illustrators contributed to the development of marketing and visual materials.

Extensive and purposeful programming was developed for the general public, school groups and post-secondary institutions, as well as for community organizations and businesses, all interested in building their awareness and deepening their understanding of Indigenous experiences. Indigenous Voices of Today hopes to do more than just inform; it also hopes to inspire visitors to learn more—and to do more—as active participants in the process of reconciliation.

Governor General’s History Award for Scholarly Research

A Line of Blood and Dirt: Creating the Canada-United States Border across Indigenous Lands
Benjamin Hoy
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Benjamin Hoy’s A Line of Blood and Dirt: Creating the Canada-United States Border across Indigenous Lands is at once wide-ranging and sharply conceived. Drawing on a broad range of written and oral archives, Hoy examines the physical, political and cultural making of the Canada‑U.S. border from the 1770s to the early 20th century in beautiful and compelling prose. A Line of Blood and Dirt documents a border made in conflict, inseparable from the histories of colonialism and Indigenous resistance, and designed to mean different things for different people. Hoy shows the connections between environmental and political history and the histories of migration and Indigenous people, all analyzed without compromise. This is a story of settler governments but also of the environments and ordinary people who resisted and remade them.

A Line of Blood and Dirt is a powerful reminder of the capacity of history to cast new and needed light on the present, and especially the meaning and impact of international borders. The questions the book raises are difficult and tangled ones: how legal, governmental and diplomatic decisions can determine the practice of everyday life while those lived experiences on the ground can also defy, ignore and complicate the decisions made by the powerful. A Line of Blood and Dirt is a powerful and timely engagement between past and present, and one that will shape how we understand international and diplomatic history, environmental history, Indigenous history and immigration history.

Governor General’s History Award for Popular Media: The Pierre Berton Award

Thomas King, C.C.
Guelph, Ontario

Thomas King is a bestselling and award-winning writer whose work has brought Indigenous concerns to the forefront of Canadian society and challenged readers to re-examine Western approaches to history.

Through his signature humour and masterful storytelling, King draws readers into difficult conversations related to colonization, racism, environmental degradation and historical and ongoing injustices against Indigenous people in North America. The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America, one of his best-known works, uses fierce intelligence and razor-sharp wit to expose the centuries-long efforts to undermine Indigeneity itself in an effort to justify the theft of Indigenous land and the erasure of Indigenous cultures, languages, histories and identities.

A trailblazer, King moves seamlessly through genres, educating and entertaining audiences through literary fiction, non-fiction and poetry, as well as through radio, film and television. His distinguished writing and teaching careers have inspired new generations of Indigenous authors, storytellers and educators.

Through his writing, teaching and advocacy, King has broken down stereotypes and centred Indigenous voices and experiences. His work is an invaluable contribution towards a deeper conversation about reconciliation and a more just and equitable future for Indigenous people in Canada.