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College of Alberta scholar receives high honour from Royal Canadian Academy of Arts

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Edmonton scholar John Geiger, who first took on the torch as CEO of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society 13 years in the past, has been awarded the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts medal — the group’s highest honour.

The medal is awarded to those that have made excellent contributions to the social, monetary or skilled standing of visible artists and designers. Earlier recipients embody visual artist Emily Carr, members of the Group of Seven and Heather L. Igloliorte, an Inuk scholar, unbiased curator and artwork historian.

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Based in 1880, the RCA represents greater than 700 Canadian artists and designers. The primary RCA medal was awarded in 1962.

Geiger’s work to assist conceive the Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada in 2018 was a part of the explanation the RCA awarded him the medal.

The atlas consists of 4 volumes containing details about Canada’s first peoples, their tradition, historical past and languages. It was created in collaboration with former minister of Indigenous and northern affairs, Carolyn Bennett, and thru session with the Meeting of First Nations, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Métis Nationwide Council, the Nationwide Centre for Fact and Reconciliation and Indspire.

When requested about why he got interested within the intersection between reconciliation and artwork, Geiger pointed to his roots as an Albertan and the way he noticed Indigenous heritage as a “very important pressure” in Canada. He grew up in Edmonton and has a historical past diploma from the College of Alberta.

“I’m an Albertan. The Indigenous (presence) in Alberta was at all times very apparent to me and I at all times discovered it intrinsically a part of who we as Canadians are. I’ve at all times — by means of my whole life, I keep in mind going to powwows as a teenager and simply having that connection to nice First Nations artists,” Geiger mentioned. 

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“These persons are so very important in our nation and I believe the visible picture of Canada is so intently tied to Indigenous Canadians and the imaginative and prescient of Indigenous artists.”

Geiger mentioned his curiosity in geography stemmed from his youth and his time at U of A, the place he developed a curiosity for Arctic historical past. He later labored for the Edmonton Journal within the eighties after graduating from the U of A.

On the RCGS, Geiger is creating extra collaborative area to work with non-Indigenous and Indigenous artists alike to intersect geography with artwork.

Presently the society is holding an exhibition referred to as Stress: James Cameron Into the Abyss. It celebrates the previous expedition through which the filmmaker and explorer made historical past with the primary solo dive to the underside of Mariana Trench, Earth’s deepest level.

“Our group works very laborious to teach and finally to have a good time all that Canada represents. People are coming right here in giant numbers as a result of they see Canada as one thing very particular and one thing that provides issues that they will’t have in their very own nation,” mentioned Geiger. 

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