Carihi teacher Wayne Demerse has been nominated for a Governor General’s Award for excellence in teaching.

Teacher takes students on a voyage through history and earns national recognition

The sinking of a British passenger ship during the First World War is hitting close to home for students at a Campbell River high school

The sinking of a British passenger ship during the First World War is hitting close to home for Grade 11 students at Carihi Secondary School.  Students in Wayne Demerse’s classes not only read firsthand accounts from the 1915 Victoria Times newspapers, they are also ‘re-living’ the event.

Students are each handed a laminated info-card with the name and description of a passenger from the ill-fated voyage and assume these characters for the duration of the class. A research assignment aimed to sift through factors that contributed to the tragedy follows. The students are encouraged to exercise the skills of historians to draw their own conclusions.

Demerse believes that through individual research and a ‘personal connection’, his students learning about the German sinking of the HMS Lusitania during World War I will be enriched.

For Demerse’s innovative and interactive teaching approach, Canada’s History Society has named him as a finalist for the 2013 Governor General’s History Awards for Excellence in Teaching.

Deborah Morrison, CEO of Canada’s History Society emphasized, “Canada’s most passionate educators are now turning to social media, cyberspace and digitized projects to create interactive and novel lesson plans that are transforming their classrooms into time machines to transport students hundreds of years into the past.  Through these awards our goal is to inspire more teachers to ‘do’ history and to create more inventive ways to engage their students in learning about Canada’s past and present.”

Now in its 17th year, the Awards recognize the outstanding contributions of Canada’s history and social studies teachers, ranging from elementary grades through to secondary schools.

For a list of the finalists’ project descriptions, photos and podcasts, visit

“We can be proud of these outstanding individuals who are committed to sharing our history in new and innovative ways, inspiring youth to learn about the people and events that have shaped Canada,” said the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. “Learning about Canada’s history is important. It helps us understand the country we live in today and encourages us to work together to continue to build the country we are happy to call home.”

A national panel of judges will next select six recipients out of the 25 finalists, based on a submission outlining the nominee’s achievements in the field of teaching Canadian History or Social Studies.

Those recipients will receive $2,500, a gold medal and a trip this fall to the Awards ceremonies at Rideau Hall. Their respective schools will also be awarded a cash gift of $1,000. The Awards prizes and other program support are made possible through the generous investment of TD Bank Group.

“History can be such an important guide of the future. These teachers work hard every day to help the next generation of leaders understand where we have come from to know where we are going,” said Frank McKenna, Deputy Chair, TD Bank Group. “TD is proud to support the Governor General’s History Awards for Excellence in Teaching – recognizing these educators that encourage students to learn about our history in creative and innovative ways.”

The recipients will also be invited to participate in the 70th anniversary commemorations of D-Day in Normandy, France in June, 2014 with travel provided by EFTours.