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OISE alum Diane Vautour receives Governor General's gold medal for teaching history


By Eileen Thomas

November 22, 2010

OISE alumna Diane Vautour, (B.Ed. 2002), has been selected by Canada's History Society to receive a Governor General's Award for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History. The award, which recognizes innovation and leadership in teaching Canadian history, was presented to Diane and seven other recipients from across the country by Governor General David Johnston at Rideau Hall on November 19.

A teacher at Loretto College Catholic Secondary School, an all-female school in Toronto, Diane engaged students in her Grades 10 and 12 classes in a historical role-play to develop historical inquiry and communications skills. Stepping into the shoes of Canada's pioneering suffragists, newspaper women and politicians, the students staged Nellie McClung's "Mock Parliament", followed by a simulation of a parliamentary debate on the 1917 Wartime Elections Act in the House of Commons. The project, completed last year, required students to research archival reports, construct costumes, study period speech and gather personal information for their roles.

Participating through role-play, the students go beyond research and discover who these people were, what they stood for and how they effected change. As suffragists, students in Diane's classes learned that ordinary women advocated for basic rights despite significant government opposition. As newspaper women reporting on events and interviewing suffragists and politicians, her Grade10 class created historical newspapers of this critical event in Canadian Women's history.

The class project also included the creation of an historical quilt. Each student researched, designed and sewed a panel representing historically significant early Canadians.

"I thought the project was an all-encompassing way to engage the students in an important aspect of women's history in Canada," explained Diane. "It is important for female students to learn about their role models who forged the path for women's rights in Canada."

The school community will celebrate Diane's achievement at Loretto College School on November 23.