James Boxall of the GISciences Centre, located in the Killam Library, was recently elected a Governor of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS) at the College of Fellows AGM and Gala in Ottawa.
James is a Fellow of the Society and was awarded the Geographic Education Medal in 2012 for his contributions in advancing geographic education and GIS in Canada, and for helping found the Canadian Council on Geographic Education. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (and Institute of British Geographers), and accepted on behalf of Dalhousie Libraries the Esri Special Achievement Award in GIS in 2012.
“I am humbled and appreciative of the attention but this is not my story. It is the story of a great many people here at Dalhousie and indeed from across Canada. It is also the story of libraries continuing to be a model and lead in geography and GIS. This is at the heart of the message because, for those who know the history of geography and GIS, libraries have always been at the forefront. In fact, we need to recall that it was Eratosthenes, the third Librarian of Alexandria, who over 2,200 years ago developed the discipline and gave us the term geography,” said James.
The Gala was attended by Dr. David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, who, as Patron of the RCGS, presented the medals for 2013 and spoke to the Fellows highlighting the central importance of education in understanding, appreciating, and protecting Canada’s geography. Dinner guests were treated to a personal speech about the joy of doing and knowing geography by Laureen Harper. Prime Minister Stephen Harper was also in attendance. The Prime Minister and Mrs. Harper were also inducted into the College of Fellows.
A highlight of the day was the endorsement of the Declaration on Advancing Geographic Education for Canadians which had previously been endorsed by the Canadian Association of Geographers (CAG), Esri Canada, Canadian Geographic Education, and the Ontario Association for Geographic and Environmental Education. The Board of the Geomatics Association of Nova Scotia, of which James is also a past-president, has also agreed to endorse the Declaration at a special meeting to be held on GIS Day, coming up on November 20.
The Declaration is the culmination of a long year of volunteers from across Canada who devoted their time and energy to develop the action plan. At a meeting organized through James at the CAG annual meeting in St. John’s, the Declaration was established and received a great amount of media attention during that week. James is attaching the Declaration to a Foundation he established to support teachers who wish to learn and implement GIS in schools.
“All of these actions and results creates a story of success at Dalhousie, within the University Libraries, and the School of Information Management. It is one tangible way I can give back something for the future of our profession and services; to live our values. It is an opportunity to link and promote the underlying goals we hold central to our institutions, and now the Society I am so honoured to represent—to make Canada and the world known to Canadians,” said James.