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Capt. Joseph-Elzéar Bernier Medal

2017 Recipients - Phyllis Arnold, Shelagh and Jon Grant, Thomas Edward Kierans, Bob Ramsay and Mike Robinson

Phyllis Arnold
A leading publisher of innovative educational resources; past RCGS governor

The Society is awarding the 2017 Joseph-Elzéar Bernier Medal to a Fellow who has invested in geography education by establishing an endowment fund in her name to strengthen pedagogy and practice in geographic education in Canada. Phyllis Arnold, a former Governor of the Society, created the Phyllis Arnold Endowment Fund to enable geography educators to apply for professional development courses and workshops.

Arnold started out as a teacher, but her passion for strong Canadian educational content eventually led her to become a successful businesswoman who started her own publishing company, Arnold Publishing. She has also authored more than 70 educational textbooks, as well as other educational resources, over the course of her career.

Shelagh and Jon Grant
Shelagh, an educator, historian and author, and Jon, a business leader, are longstanding supporters of Can Geo Education.

The 2017 Joseph-Elzéar Bernier Medal has been awarded to two people who have played an integral role in helping to develop the Arctic educational resources for Canadian Geographic Education. Shelagh Dawn Grant is a historian, researcher, editor, former adjunct professor at Trent University, and an award-winning author, known for such works as “Arctic Justice: On Trial for Murder, Pond Inlet, 1923” and “Polar Imperative: A History of Arctic Sovereignty in North America”.

Her husband, Jon K. Grant, is an entrepreneur who has a keen interest in the environment and conservation work. As the president and CEO of Quaker Oats of Canada, he is an accomplished businessman who has served on several national boards, such as the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Canadian Canoe Museum. The Society has profited from his abiding interest in education and the environment through his substantial support of the ground-breaking educator resources inspired by Shelagh Grant’s work and vision.

Thomas Edward Kierans

The RCGS is awarding the Joseph-Elzéar Bernier Medal to a recipient who has been a powerful advocate for geographic literacy in Canada. Thomas Edward Kierans is a major figure in Canadian business and a national leader in public policy development and in the area of advanced research.

Tom Kierans is an is an Officer of the Order of Canada and a member of several boards and committees for prestigious organizations across the country. Among his many involvements, he is Chairman Emeritus of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Executive Chairman Emeritus of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, and he previously served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the C.D. Howe Institute. Through his wisdom and philanthropy, Kierans has considerably strengthened not only the Society and Canadian geographic education, but Canada itself.

Bob Ramsay
President of communications firm Ramsay Inc., founder of the RamsayTalks lecture series and RamsayTravel expeditions company

A legendary connector in many spheres, Bob Ramsay has been instrumental in introducing The Royal Canadian Geographical Society to prospective supporters and in forging major partnerships between the Society and corporate partners. A communications expert and entrepreneur, Ramsay has aided in the development of the Society’s Indigenous People’s Atlas of Canada program, which is among the largest and most ambitious programs in the Society’s history. This program is important with respect to its potential contribution towards reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous peoples, through the perspectives of geography and cartography. Ramsay, through his Ramsay Travel business, has also worked to develop affinities between the Society and the travel industry.

Mike Robinson
Royal Scottish Geographical Society CEO, relocated and reinvigorated the society, strengthening ties with other geographical organizations.

The Society is recognizing one of its international peers with the Joseph-Elzéar Bernier Medal, recognizing his contribution to the general advancement of geography. As Chief Executive of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, Mike Robinson has been responsible for modernizing, relocating, re-structuring and re-invigorating one of Scotland's oldest educational charities. The RSGS provides a breadth of programs for the general public and the educational community, promoting geographical understanding of people, places and the planet.

In appreciation of the shared values between the RCGS and the RSGS, Mike has also worked to strengthen ties between the two geographical organizations. A Memorandum of Understanding has laid out ambitious grounds for cooperation. This fall, the RSGS’s publication “The Geographer” dedicated a special issue to Canada, evidence of the close cooperation between the two royal geographical societies.

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