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The Memory Project began in 2001 with a handful of Second World War veterans, including Grant McRae, informally visiting schools in Toronto and sharing stories of their service with students. The group had a goal of formalizing the experience and bringing it to Canadians young and old across the country. Historica Canada (then the Dominion Institute) was approached and, with much enthusiasm, decided to take the project on. The Memory Project was born. Hundreds of volunteers, thousands of speaking engagements, and over 1.5 million Canadian audience members later, we’re still going strong!
The Memory Project is an initiative of Historica Canada, a registered charity that receives a combination of funding from government, corporations, and individuals. Historica Canada’s mandate is to promote and celebrate Canadian heritage, identity, and citizenship. The Memory Project is just one of its many free educational, and bilingual, programs. The Memory Project is funded by Veterans Affairs Canada and Canadian Heritage.
Historica Canada’s national offices are located in downtown Toronto. The Memory Project is a truly national program. Our staff members promote the program, recruit new volunteer speakers, and commemorate military anniversaries across Canada. We have visited communities large and small – from St. John’s, NL to Victoria, BC, and every province in between. Check out the Anniversaries and Events section of our website for more information - perhaps we are coming to a city or town near you!
YES! Our program is completely bilingual, providing equal services in both official languages.
The Memory Project is no longer recording the stories of veterans of the Second World War and Korean War. Over 3,000 recorded personal accounts and thousands of digitized memorabilia are still available on our site for future generations of Canadians to explore.
The Memory Project is an incredibly diverse community of over 1,000 volunteers. Our veterans and currently-serving Canadian Forces members range in age from their 20s to 90s. They are men and women, Anglophone and Francophone, and live and work in communities across Canada. Sadly, many of our Second World War and Korean War veterans, who have given decades of military and community service, are passing away. While we continue to recruit these older veterans, we are relying more and more on our younger veterans and active Canadian Forces personnel to “carry on the torch of Remembrance.” We strive to ensure our volunteer base reflects the changing demographics of the Canadian veteran.
Our program provides speakers all year round, but the weeks leading up to November 11 are by far our busiest time of year. During the fall, we facilitate over 1,000 speaking engagements and reach over 175,000 Canadians.
Individuals can donate to The Memory Project by clicking here. We welcome and appreciate all private donations, and have benefited greatly from the generosity of Canadians over the years.
We love to stay connected on social media! We are extremely active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. We post content regularly and love being part of the conversation about military history and current events in Canada. We are grateful to our thousands of followers for their support.
Please visit the Book a Speaker or Become a Speaker sections of our website.
We cultivate a community of volunteers, not just a collection of people. Travelling the country allows us to promote our program while remaining connected to a local volunteer base. The Memory Project branches beyond the classroom and into libraries, corporate lunch-and-learns, retirement residences, theatrical performances, English as a Second Language classes, and Guide/Scout groups to name a few! Our retired volunteers view our program as a great way to remain engaged in their local communities, just as those who are still working view it as a unique professional development opportunity. Our volunteers tailor their Memory Project experience to their own needs and goals. Our volunteers also have the opportunity to do media interviews and appearances; if that is something they are interested in. The Memory Project has also produced an educational DVD, Witnesses To Our History and two books, Rare Courage and We Were Freedom, featuring some of our own volunteers. We are also happy to promote relevant initiatives our members are involved in over social media and our website. Did you write a book about your military experience? Are you organizing a commemorative event? Let us know and we will help spread the word to our thousands of online followers.
Aside from booking speaking engagements, staff stay in touch regularly with our community of volunteers through social media (please see above). We also distribute regular newsletters. If we are hosting or participating in an event, we let our local volunteer base know about it. We solicit feedback from every single speaking engagement that takes place. We are constantly updating our database to ensure we have up-to-date information for each and every volunteer. We encourage our volunteers to stay in touch with us by contacting our staff directly any time by email, phone, or regular mail.
As little or as much as you make it. We know our volunteers have busy schedules – participation in speaking engagements and events is always optional. Volunteers can expect to be contacted more frequently during the busy fall season.
We work hard to ensure all our volunteers have the opportunity to attend speaking engagements. We cannot always predict where we will have demand for Memory Project volunteers, but we book visits in communities large and small all across Canada. In addition to in-person visits, we have the opportunity for our volunteers do video conferencing – such as Skype – which is a great way to overcome our vast Canadian geography and forge unique connections!
It is the responsibility of the visit organizer to contact you prior to the speaking engagement to review all relevant details. In addition, please check out the Speaker Resources section of our website for materials that will help you make the most of your visit.
While many of our volunteers find them helpful, visual aids are by no means a requirement. Our speakers are encouraged to bring whatever materials they feel will enhance their speaking engagement. Some volunteers deliver PowerPoint Presentations, others bring along photographs, personal mementos, and/or artefacts. Audience members of all ages are always impressed by uniforms and medals.
An organization we love working with, the Digital Human Library, has amazing resources for Skype guest speakers. We strongly encourage you to check them out! Please note that since the Digital Human Library is a separate organization, not all information will apply to The Memory Project.
We always encourage visit organizers to contact speakers as soon as possible, but if there are any difficulties, please get in touch with us. If a week has passed and/or the date of the visit is approaching in less than two weeks, let us know. We will do our very best to get you in touch with the visit organizer.
We are aware that this happens from time to time. Please encourage visit organizers to continue to book speaking engagements through The Memory Project. Properly tracking the speaking engagement activity of our volunteers, including how many Canadians they have reached, helps us to paint an accurate picture for our records and our funders.
Our volunteers give their time so generously – we do not want them to pay out of pocket for transportation expenses. We have the resources to provide an honorarium of $50 per visit to cover costs such as for taxis, fuel, and parking. This is not guaranteed, and is assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Yes! We love hearing from our volunteers. Please let us know how your visit went by filling out our Feedback Form for a chance to win prizes. This is not mandatory, but is strongly encouraged so we can continue to improve our programming.
Yes, we encourage all Memory Project members to do so. Many of our speakers bring fellow veterans or Canadian Forces members with them as potential new volunteers for the program, or their parents, spouses, children, and/or friends. Friends and family enjoy hearing what the volunteer has to say and can help out with the transportation and logistics of speaking engagements. Please advise the visit organizer in advance if you are bringing anyone with you.
We understand our volunteers lead busy lives, are juggling work and family commitments, and may experience health issues. Please let us and the visit organizer know as quickly as possible, and we will reschedule for another date or find another volunteer speaker.
Contact us and we will update your profile on the spot so we can send you on speaking engagements in your new community. If you spend a portion of the year in another location, down south or at a cottage, for example, let us know and we will refrain from contacting you during that specified time.
Yes. We understand many of our members are no longer able to physically attend schools and community centres on behalf of our program. Such volunteers remain an important part of our community. They receive newsletters, event invitations, media requests, and letters from students. Simply provide us with your current contact information and we will add you to our ‘retired speakers’ list.
Please contact us and let us know. We will remove you from our active speakers list. If you change your mind, we will simply re-activate your profile.
Please visit the Book a Speaker section of our website.
YES! We provide both French and English speaking volunteers all across Canada. All of our educational materials are bilingual as well.
No – all our programming is FREE. It is provided to educators and community leaders free of charge, as are our Educator Resources. Our guest speakers are volunteering their own time. Without their commitment, we simply would not exist.
No. Our programming is open to all schools and community groups. We have sent volunteers to classrooms, libraries, community centres, assemblies, sporting events, galas, corporate lunch-and-learns, places of worship, current events clubs, colleges, universities, and Rotary Clubs – just to name a few.
We understand every Canadian province has a different curriculum, and our program applies to each one. Our emphasis on primary resources, critical thinking, technology, and making community connections are an asset to any classroom. Our wide variety of volunteers and educational resources mean that educators can tailor our programming to suit their needs.
Here at the Memory Project, we believe in the importance of personal storytelling. Our volunteers share their personal accounts of service and enrich the lives of those around them. Our volunteers put a human face to the names, places, and dates in textbooks and on the news. There is no better way to enhance classroom lessons. Our volunteers are appropriate for all ages and can speak on a variety of subjects: History, Geography, Social Studies, Civics, Current Events, English, French, Politics, Law, even Mathematics and Physical Education!
It is never too early to request a speaker! Book before October 1; after that date we book speaking engagements on a first-come, first-served basis.
Many schools and community centres form strong relationships with our volunteers, and this is something we are very proud of, but we need to keep track of our volunteers’ schedules and activity, including how many Canadians they reach. Please do not contact volunteer speakers directly to book speaking engagements. Contact us instead – you can request a specific volunteer or someone new.
Yes, by all means. Please indicate this preference on your Book a Speaker form and we will do our best to accommodate it. Some of our most successful speaking engagements feature more than one of our volunteers.
Our community of volunteers is so diverse that we can accommodate most requests. It goes without saying that larger urban centres are home to a larger pool of volunteers, but we will do our very best to accommodate every request for a specific speaker. Of course, booking early always helps!
Follow up on your request any time by contacting our office.
Let us know as quickly as possible. We will do our best to place you in touch, or find a replacement if necessary.
The more you put into a Memory Project speaking engagement, the more you get out of it. As a visit organizer, it is your responsibility to contact your volunteer speaker well in advance of the visit to discuss all relevant details including presentation content and travel arrangements. Have your audience prepare for the visit by doing research on the speaker and/or the Canadian military and composing questions in advance. Many of our volunteer speakers are featured on our Veteran Stories section. Our online Information for Visit Organizers contains more tips and suggestions.
We cannot always predict where we will have demand for Memory Project volunteers, but we book visits in communities large and small all across Canada. In addition to in person speaking engagements, we offer video-conferencing – a great way to overcome our vast Canadian geography and forge unique connections!
An organization we love working with, The Digital Human Library, has amazing resources for Skype visit organizers. We strongly encourage you to check them out! Please note that since The Digital Human Library is a separate organization, not all information will apply to The Memory Project.
We love hearing from our visit organizers. Please let us know how your visit went by filling out our Feedback Form. for a chance to win prizes! This is not mandatory but strongly encouraged so we can continue to improve our programming.