Canadian Geographic - - CONTENTS - this, —Cana­dian Geo­graphic ed­i­tors

The Royal Cana­dian Ge­o­graph­i­cal So­ci­ety cel­e­brates its new head­quar­ters with an of­fi­cial VIP open­ing

T“This is the most im­por­tant mo­ment in The Royal Cana­dian Ge­o­graph­i­cal So­ci­ety’s 90-year his­tory.” That’s the kind of state­ment that might raise eye­brows in ge­og­ra­phy cir­cles around the na­tion. Af­ter all, in the last five years alone, the RCGS has been part of the team that dis­cov­ered the wreck of Sir John Franklin’s long-lost HMS Ere­bus on the Arc­tic Ocean bed, pub­lished the ground­break­ing In­dige­nous Peo­ples At­las of Canada in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Canada’s ma­jor na­tional In­dige­nous or­ga­ni­za­tions, and grew its cross-coun­try ed­u­ca­tion net­work to 23,000 teach­ers and vol­un­teers. But RCGS CEO John Geiger did not speak lightly dur­ing the of­fi­cial open­ing of the So­ci­ety’s new per­ma­nent home at 50 Sus­sex Drive, Ot­tawa, on May 13, 2019 — an event that marked one year since the RCGS moved into the el­e­gant glass-walled build­ing over­look­ing the Ot­tawa River and be­gan to an­i­mate it with pub­lic talks, work­shops and ex­hi­bi­tions.

The open­ing cel­e­bra­tion was at­tended by Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, RCGS Hon­orary Pres­i­dent Alex Tre­bek, Hon­orary Vice-pres­i­dents Roberta Bon­dar (the first Cana­dian woman in space), Wade Davis (a famed an­thro­pol­o­gist and au­thor) and Dr. Joe Macin­nis (a leg­end of un­der­wa­ter ex­plo­ration), and a

The Royal Cana­dian Ge­o­graph­i­cal So­ci­ety cel­e­brates its new head­quar­ters with an of­fi­cial VIP open­ing

host of other So­ci­ety VIPS. All echoed the fact that the head­quar­ters — a.k.a. Canada’s Cen­tre for Ge­og­ra­phy and Ex­plo­ration — is the key to the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s abil­ity to con­tinue mak­ing strides in its man­date to make Canada bet­ter known to Cana­di­ans and to the world. Stand­ing in the build­ing’s Main Gallery, sur­rounded by panoramic views of the river and Que­bec’s Gatineau hills, the prime min­is­ter spoke of his gov­ern­ment’s ef­forts to put a price on cli­mate change­caus­ing pol­lu­tion, its in­vest­ments in na­ture con­ser­va­tion and cre­ation of new marine pro­tected ar­eas, and its em­pha­sis on get­ting Cana­di­ans to ex­plore their na­tional parks. “Of course, we are not alone in this work,” he said. “The Royal Cana­dian Ge­o­graph­i­cal So­ci­ety is a leader in teach­ing about and pro­tect­ing our en­vi­ron­ment; it’s enough just to look at the work be­ing done here to help young peo­ple learn more about cli­mate change and en­ergy-ef­fi­cient tech­nolo­gies. The in­au­gu­ra­tion to­day con­sists not just of cel­e­brat­ing the open­ing of a new build­ing, but the open­ing of a new chap­ter.” As a for­mer teacher, he said, the work of the RCGS is near and dear to his heart. Tre­bek, who was mak­ing his first pub­lic ap­pear­ance in Canada since news broke in March about his stage-four pan­cre­atic can­cer di­ag­no­sis, said that he has been over­whelmed by the sup­port of his Cana­dian friends and fans, and

‘This is the RCGS re­al­iz­ing its po­ten­tial to be­come the lo­cus of what it means to be Cana­dian.’

was re­lieved to have com­pleted the last of his chemo­ther­apy treat­ments just days be­fore vis­it­ing 50 Sus­sex. “And now to­day I’m here for this very spe­cial ded­i­ca­tion with the prime min­is­ter of Canada. Hey guys — my cup run­neth over! Things don’t get any bet­ter than this place.” The event moved into the Alex Tre­bek The­atre, where Geiger an­nounced that “ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately,” the So­ci­ety’s long-run­ning an­nual Geo­graphic Lit­er­acy Award had been re­named the Alex Tre­bek Medal for Geo­graphic Lit­er­acy. And, he said, come May 27, the RCGS would for the first time be able to host its Cana­dian Geo­graphic Chal­lenge na­tional stu­dent com­pe­ti­tion at its own head­quar­ters. Johnny Is­saluk, an ac­tor on AMC’S The Ter­ror, Inuit Games ath­lete and coach, Inuit cul­tural am­bas­sador and Nu­navut-based Arc­tic ex­plorer, was in­vested as the new­est RCGS Ex­plorerin-res­i­dence, and Roberta Bon­dar pre­sented the So­ci­ety with a pair of spe­cial gifts: a crew mis­sion patch that flew aboard the Space Shut­tle Dis­cov­ery STS-42 on Jan. 22 to 30, 1992, and one of her per­sonal crew patches. “I want to ac­knowl­edge the en­ergy that’s in this room and that I can tap into, be­cause all of you re­main my in­spi­ra­tion,” she said, adding that the patches are her way of rec­og­niz­ing the RCGS’S global im­pact through pi­o­neer­ing ex­pe­di­tions, dis­cov­er­ies and knowl­edge. Per­haps no one, how­ever, spoke to the im­por­tance of the So­ci­ety’s pur­pose and new phys­i­cal lo­ca­tion bet­ter than Wade Davis. “This is the RCGS re­al­iz­ing its po­ten­tial to be­come the lo­cus of what it means to be Cana­dian,” he said. “It is the fil­ter through which teach­ers can come and a place for stu­dents, but also a place where who­ever is rul­ing in this cap­i­tal city can come in a com­pletely non-par­ti­san way and know that even more than Par­lia­ment Hill, is the sa­cred heart of Canada.”

Clock­wise from op­po­site, bot­tom: Alex Tre­bek and Prime Min­is­ter Trudeau with RCGS VIPS; Tre­bek, Wade Davis, Trudeau and John Geiger un­veil the of­fi­cial open­ing com­mem­o­ra­tive plaque; Tre­bek ad­dresses the au­di­ence in his name­sake the­atre; Trudeau re­ceives a copy of the In­dige­nous Peo­ples At­las of Canada from Geiger; RCGS Ex­plor­ers-in-res­i­dence wel­come Johnny Is­saluk to their ranks; Roberta Bon­dar presents her space-mis­sion patches.

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