A memorable night of awards and achievements

It was an unforgettable evening Nov. 15, as Loreena and a host of distinguished guests were recognized for their outstanding achievements during the 94th Annual Geographica Dinner in Ottawa.

Photo: Mark McCauley

The Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS) presented Loreena with the Dr.  Captain Joseph-Elzéar Bernier Medal, “awarded to recognize an exemplary deed or activity that has enhanced or aided the Society in fulfilling its mandate at the international, national, provincial or headquarters level”

Photo: Mark McCauley

Loreena is the Hononary Colonel of the Royal Canadian Air Force, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary next year and the RCGS is working alongside them on various joint initiatives to mark the occasion. After accepting her award, Loreena talked about her travels and musical quests in pursuit of the Celts. She also spoke about her honorary roles within the Canadian forces, emphasizing the importance of the responsibilities those men and women assume, while noting their challenges, both professional and personal.

📖 Read Loreena’s Remarks

Loreena also performed “Stolen Child” for those at the gala dinner.

Photo: Mark McCauley

The evening began with a reception in the Canadian War Museum lobby, guests moved to the main hall and the official ceremony began with a performance by the Ottawa River Singers, a First Nations drum group.

Acclaimed Canadian photographer, film-maker, author and marine biologist Paul Nicklen spoke about Sea Legacy, the conservation society he founded. The multi-award-winning photographer has worked for Canadian Geographic and National Geographic magazines and has been documenting the planet for over 20 years. He was awarded the Lawrence J. Burpee Medal.

During the evening, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations from 2014 to 2021 Perry Bellegarde interviewed Chief Wilton Littlechild, a commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, residential school survivor, lawyer and Indigenous rights advocate. They discussed his work and accomplishment in having the United Nations recognize The Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Chief Littlechild was presented with the Society’s Gold Medal.

The night wrapped up with a brief from Jenni Sidey-Gibbons, a Canadian Space Agency astronaut who is Canada’s third female astronaut and the country’s youngest. She spoke about NASA’s 2024 Artemis II, a crewed mission around the moon to explore deep space and the lunar surface.

The Royal Canadian Geographical Society is focused on such issues as climate change, biodiversity loss and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. It’s one of Canada’s oldest and largest educational non-profit organizations.


Reported by Mark McCauley. Written by Diane Sewell, a career journalist for more than 30 years. In addition to working with Loreena for 20 years, she has also written for the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and assorted consumer magazines. She is also the author of several commissioned books.