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Seward wins GGs Meritorious Service Medal
Seward wins GGs Meritorious Service Medal
Posted on 12/02/2016

Seward Wins Governor General’s
Meritorious Service Medal

(Smiths Falls) – A teacher who has brought Canada’s military history to life for high school students across the nation has been honoured with a Governor General’s Meritorious Service Medal.

Blake Seward, a history teacher at Smiths Falls and District Collegiate Institute (SFDCI), was presented with the medal by Governor General David Johnston during a recent ceremony at Rideau Hall. He won for his role as a founder of the Lest We Forget project, a nationally recognized historical research program. The program encourages students to use Canadian servicemen’s military records to guide original research and create in-depth profiles. Conducted in partnership with Library and Archives Canada, it focuses on servicemen from the First and Second World Wars. It has grown from a locally driven initiative 15 years ago, to a nationally recognized program with hundreds of students across Canada participating.

Research using original records allows students to learn without the “filters” of author perspective found in textbooks, and to draw their own conclusions regarding issues of the day such as technological change and women’s rights.

Seward said the award was a great honour, but stressed he was accepting on behalf of many others who have helped to make the program a success.

“When you’re in education and receiving something like this it’s always a collaborative award,” reflected Seward. “When you’re standing there, you’re thinking about all the people you work with who are a part of this. You’re really accepting on behalf of a large group.”

In particular, he cited SFDCI colleague Mason Black. Black guided computer science students in the development of the Juno Beach mobile app using Lest We Forget research. The free app, about Canadians’ contribution on D-Day, allows people to explore casualties’ profiles, maps of Canadians’ progress on the battlefield, and other information regarding the landings and the days directly following. The Juno Beach app was released in June 2014.

Under Black’s guidance, students working with the Lest We Forget project are currently developing an app to honour soldiers who fought and died during the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The goal is to release the app on the 100th anniversary of the battle in April 2017.

Seward’s commitment to teaching Canadian history has been recognized with a number of other awards, including the Veterans Affairs Commendation Award, the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence, the Governor General’s Award for Teaching Canadian History, and the Lieutenant Governor’s Heritage Award.

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