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The Royal Canadian Geographical Society announces its 2020 award recipients

Press Release

OTTAWA, ON, Nov. 18, 2020  – In its 91st year, The Royal Canadian Geographical Society is recognizing fifteen individuals for their outstanding achievements in geography, education, exploration and the environment. The honours are being bestowed this year at The Fellows Show, a virtual geography celebration on Wed., Nov. 18, 2020. Because of the COVID19 pandemic, The Fellows Show replaces the Society’s College of Fellows Annual Dinner. The Fellows Show can be viewed on Canadian Geographic magazine’s YouTube channel ( Here is the full list of 2020 honours recipients:

Honorary Fellowship
The Right Hon. Justin Trudeau
For his passionate commitment to our environment, including his government’s leadership on climate change, its historic investments in Indigenous-led nature conservation and Indigenous Guardians programs, and its action on Ocean conservation and protection, including its leadership in reducing plastic waste, the Right Hon. Justin Trudeau is awarded honorary fellowship of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

Massey Medal
Dr. John Smol
An internationally renowned ecologist, limnologist, and palaeolimnologist, Dr. John Smol has shifted how we think about the Canadian landscape — and in how we monitor and assess its ecology. Dr John Smol is awarded the Massey Medal for his outstanding contributions to environmental science, and how we understand it.

Bergmann Medal
Jason Edmunds
An Inuk from Nunatsiavut, Jason Edmunds is a remarkable leader, a gifted logistician and an expert Arctic guide, who is receiving the Martin Bergmann Medal for his effective and enthusiastic Arctic leadership, mentorship and his advocacy for Arctic peoples and environments.

Lawrence J. Burpee Medal
Jan Morris
Jan Morris is a distinguished journalist, essayist and historian. The Royal Canadian Geographical Society is proud to award the Lawrence J. Burpee Medal to Morris for her inspirational writing on a sense of place and contribution to our knowledge of human and physical geography.

Joseph-Elzéar Bernier Medal
Brian Hodgson
Brian Hodgson has contributed his dedication and drive to the Society in his capacity as Governor (2009 to 2015), a member of the Fellows Committee (2008 to 2017) and in his role in the creation of the Advancement Committee. He has been instrumental in opening a number of doors to enhance the prominence of the Society. For his contributions to strengthening and raising the profile of the Society, we award Col. Brian Hodgson the Joseph-Elzéar Bernier Medal.

Ken Hedges
Dr. Ken Hedges was a member of the British Trans Arctic Expedition of 1968-69. Widely agreed to be the first to reach the North Pole on foot, it was a monumental and historic achievement. Dr. Ken Hedges is awarded the Joseph-Elzéar Bernier Medal for his significant contributions to the Society and the advancement of geography.

Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration
David Jones
A mountaineer, explorer, climber, photographer, writer, mentor and advocate, David Jones has followed a passion for mountains not just for his own knowledge, but to share his insights with Canadians and the world. We are proud to award the Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration to David Jones for his prowess in exploration of, and education about, Canada’s mountain ranges.

Louie Kamookak Medal
Elizabeth Dowdeswell
The Hon. Elizabeth Dowdeswell has been an unwavering supporter of the Society, having attended numerous events, and having presided over the presentation of Society medals a number of times. We are proud to award the Louie Kamookak Medal to Her Honour Elizabeth Dowdeswell for her contributions to Canada and for her steadfast support of the Society.

Nellie Kusugak
Before her appointment as the fifth Commissioner of Nunavut, The Hon. Nellie Kusugak worked as an educator who has taught for about two decades in both Inuktitut and English — and has an extensive expertise in traditional and cultural education as a means of preserving and strengthening Inuit culture, tradition and language. Kusugak is awarded the Louie Kamookak Medal for her extensive contribution to Canadian education and geography.

Cecil Paul
Respected Haisla elder, activist, author, and orator, and one of the last fluent speakers of his people’s language, Cecil Paul is also honoured for his efforts to protect the Kitlope, the largest intact temperate rainforest watershed in the world.

Camsell Medal
Keith Exelby
After becoming a fellow in 2005, Keith Exelby has taken on many demanding roles: Treasurer since 2007; chairing the Finance Committee; chairing the CGE Management Board; chairing the Audit Committee. We are proud to award the Camsell Medal to Exelby for his long-standing commitment to the Society.

Joan & Doug Heyland
The RCGS would not be able to fulfill its mandate “to make Canada better known to Canadians and to the world” without its volunteers. Joan and Doug Heyland are exemplary volunteers for their many years of tireless work on various Society committees. Joan & Doug Heyland are awarded the Camsell Medal for their long-term voluntary service.

Alex Trebek Medal for Geographic Literacy
Lisa (Diz) Glithero
Diz Glithero is a leading educator that inspires everyone she meets. We are proud to award the Alex Trebek Medal for Geographic Literacy to Glithero for her inspirational commitment to connecting youth to the natural world and developing geographic leaders.

Innovation in Geography Award
Peter Cameron
Peter Cameron has been a teacher for more than 25 years, inspiring students to make a difference in the world with his contagious enthusiasm and desire to bring adventure and exploration to the classroom. Cameron is awarded the Innovation in Geography Teaching Award for his geography leadership both within, and beyond, the classroom.

Social Media Links: @RCGS_SGRC @CanGeo

The RCGS is dedicated to imparting a broader knowledge and deeper appreciation of Canada — its people and places, its natural and cultural heritage and its environmental, social and economic challenges. The Society is one of Canada’s largest non-profit educational organizations comprising more than 25,000 members from across the country. The RCGS is funded primarily by membership fees and donations. The Society’s Board of Governors and its program committees are composed entirely of volunteers.

For further information: Media Information: Keegan Hoban, Project/Communications Coordinator, The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, [email protected] or (877)786-2376 ext. 138


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