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Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (RCA) awards John Geiger, CEO of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society with its highest honour

Press Release

OTTAWA, ON, Oct. 28, 2023 – At a gala dinner in Ottawa, the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (RCA) awarded the CEO of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS), John Geiger the RCA medal, its highest honor. The medal is awarded to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the social, financial, or professional status of visual artists and designers.

Previous recipients include Heather L. Igloliorte, an Inuk scholar, independent curator and art historian, Canadian photographer Yousuf Karsh, visual artist Emily Carr, members of the Group of Seven, and British Sculptor Henry Moore. Founded in 1880, the Royal Academy of Arts represents over 700 established Canadians artists and designers. The RCA medal was first awarded in 1962.

John Geiger’s contributions to publishing excellence, through both his leadership as President and CEO of Canadian Geographic Enterprises, and CEO, Royal Canadian Geographical Society over the past decade, and his guidance during the development, consultation and publishing phases of the groundbreaking Indigenous People’s Atlas of Canada in 2018, were cited by the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in bestowing the RCA medal.

“The Indigenous People’s Atlas of Canada came to our attention at the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and we understood the significance of its publication,” said Robert Tombs, President of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. “We have gotten to know John Geiger over his many years of leadership of the RCGS and Canadian Geographic and wanted to honour him for his achievement.”

The RCA will also be honoring its longtime financial advisor Stephen Rosenberg, CPA, CA Partner, RSP LLP with an RCA Medal at the awards dinner in Ottawa for his many years of voluntary work on behalf of the RCA.

“Through his visionary leadership, and his deep personal commitment to reconciliation, John has made a profound contribution to public understanding of Indigenous peoples, lands, and languages. I am very pleased to see him honoured for his work and its lasting significance,” said Chief Perry Bellegarde, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations and Honorary President of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

“John Geiger’s leadership – a seamless intertwining of integrity, vision, love of the land and respect for Indigenous people — are the foundation of the ongoing and transformative work of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society in making little known aspects of Canada better known to Canadians and the world. John brings a genuine, deep and pervasive commitment to ensuring that all stories told through RCGS channels and programs honour the original peoples of the lands upon which these stories have been unfolding for centuries and continue to develop. His ability to recognize the gifts and talents of the many artists, writers, knowledge keepers and storytellers, paired with his determination to protect the integrity of the stories and the storytellers bring promise of even more amazing work ahead,” said Charlene Bearhead, Vice President of Learning and Reconciliation Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

Geiger has also opened the RCGS by moving it to a new public space at 50 Sussex Drive and ensuring it expanded its public facing activities to include talks, films, conferences and the inclusion of explorers, adventurers, knowledge keepers and artists.

“John has expanded the RCGS to include exploration not only of physical geography, but cultural geography as well by welcoming and celebrating writers, visual artists, cinema artists. The result has seen the Society emerge as a cultural leader,” said Chris Cran, RCA, a celebrated contemporary artist and RCGS Fellow.

Geiger has spoken about the importance of art and reconciliation throughout his career and is deeply committed to bringing to life the teachings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in all aspects of the Society’s work. By amplifying the voices of the First Peoples of Canada he believes that the RCGS can live up to its mission of making Canada better known to Canadians and the world.

For further information: and interviews please contact: Rosemary Thompson, Vice President Communications and Marketing, Royal Canadian Geographical Society,, (613) 240-6739



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