Jen Maxwell has won a Governor General’s History Award for excellence in teaching, for a project she undertook with her Grade 12 students at W.J. Mouat secondary in Abbotsford. (Submitted photo)

Jen Maxwell has won a Governor General’s History Award for excellence in teaching, for a project she undertook with her Grade 12 students at W.J. Mouat secondary in Abbotsford. (Submitted photo)

Abbotsford teacher to receive Governor General’s history award

School project that explored progress on 94 Calls to Action earns Canada’s top history prize

A teacher at an Abbotsford school has been awarded the Governor General’s History Award for excellence in teaching.

Jen Maxwell led her students at W.J. Mouat secondary through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action last school year, and it led to some incredible student work.

The school project saw students explore crucial questions around reconciliation. They examined the 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 engaged in acts of reconciliation by choosing a topic from the issue, identifying a target audience, and then creating a product type or using a platform that could help reach their audience.

That resulted in a wide variety of projects, including a website focusing on supporting Indigenous businesses, a presentation on the Wet’suwet’en crisis, and a presentation made for teachers and students about the history of gender diversity among Indigenous people.

The students involved were in Grade 12, and earned multiple credits towards social studies, English language arts, and career education while engaging in an Indigenous-focused course that explored topics in Indigenous history.

“History is happening now, and we can impact it,” Maxwell said. “We as educators are responsible for taking part in our own unlearning and relearning processes around Indigenous histories and contemporary realities, and to seek out ways for our students and ourselves to engage authentically with reconciliation.”

Maxwell currently teaches at Imagine High Integrated Arts and Technology secondary in Chilliwack and is one of seven recipients of the excellence in teaching award. Each recipient receives a $2,500 prize. In addition, their schools receive a $1,000 prize.

“With this award, we celebrate the extraordinary work of teachers who outdo themselves every day to shape our adults of tomorrow,” said Bob Cox, president and CEO of Canada’s History Society, who administers the history awards.

The Governor General’s History Awards recognize excellence in five categories: Community Programming, Museums, Popular Media, Scholarly Research, and Teaching.

Maxwell will meet Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada in a special ceremony at the Citadelle in Quebec City when she receives her award.

READ MORE: Abbotsford school district and partners fill backpacks and cupboards for back to school


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