What do you get for your 145th birthday? How about a fresh young take on Canada. Every year, more than 110,000 students showcase their history projects at Heritage Fairs across the country. Canada’s History Society  along with Great-West Life and the Department of Canadian Heritage  through the Take Charge program , encouraged students across Canada to film and re-enact historical milestones that mattered most to them and their community. Through Canada’s History Young Citizens program , two hundred students embraced the challenge and brought history in their towns and cities to life through filmmaking.
“We proudly support Canada’s History Society to help recognize and inspire young minds to take a leadership role as we all work to build stronger communities together,” says Jan Belanger, Assistant Vice-President, Community Affairs, for Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life. “In sponsoring the “young citizens” of this program, we’re pleased to give them the opportunity to think and express themselves creatively while connecting others to the history in their communities.”
Six of the best of these Young Citizens registered the most online votes across Canada and were chosen by a panel of judges to be this year’s recipients. The six Young Citizens will be recognized at this year’s Governor General’s History Awards at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on December 10th. Their award-winning videos will also be featured on December 9th at the National History Forum  in Ottawa.
Their digital historic journeys involved re-enacting the War of 1812 in period military outfits; mapping Jacques Cartier’s discovery of the St. Lawrence River that brought settlers to Quebec City; detailing the monumental building of the Canadian Pacific Railway; featuring Emily Murphy’s role in women’s rights; retracing their family’s connection to crab fishing on the East Coast and researching former inhabitants of their family’s heritage home in British Columbia.
This inaugural project connected students from Grades 4 to 11 to historic moments by encouraging them to research, role-play and digitally record short documentaries or news items that showcased their research projects and how it connected them to their culture and heritage.
This year’s recipients of the Young Citizens program are:
- Sierra Friesen – Winnipeg, MB – Emily Murphy.
- Frédéric Pelchat – St-Gédéon-de-Beauce, QC – La cartographie.
- Matthew Rogers – St. John’s, NL – Silver Fox Island.
- Kristen Schulz – North Vancouver, BC – The Heritage of My Home.
- Kristin Smith – Grande Pointe, MB – Ribbon of Steel: Building of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
- Brandon Snyder – Bridgewater, NS – The War of 1812.
Honourable mentions include:
- Griffin Murdoch – Toronto, ON – Freedom? Canada’s Tarnished History of Civil Rights.
- Thomas Savoie – Balmoral, NB – Le téléphone d’autrefois.
- Dylan Taylor – Lethbridge, AB – We Stand on Guard for Thee: Canadian Superheroes and National Identity.
“It was an extremely difficult decision for the judges to choose just six winners among the many exceptional videos we received,” commented Deborah Morrison, President and CEO of Canada’s History Society. We were quite simply overwhelmed with the quality of their research as well as their capacity to use digital media to create a polished final presentation. It underscores the tremendous value of the Heritage Fairs program to inspire students to become more actively involved in the study of our history.”
The Governor General’s History Awards bring together students, teachers, historians, museums and community organizations, writers and media producers to celebrate as well as learn from each other. The day prior to the award ceremonies, recipients will participate in a public history forum at the Canadian War Museum. Registration is now open  for this year’s forum, “How Should the Great War Be Remembered?” This event is open to the public to attend onsite or online.