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GIS Day: A time to celebrate maps and geography

This year, GIS Day was officially celebrated around the world on November 13th. Explore some of the K-12 events that occurred in Canada and find out how GIS Ambassadors, professionals, teachers and students celebrated the day of spatial thinking and maps.

Annually, GIS Day is held on the Wednesday of Geography Awareness Week. This year it was officially celebrated on November 13th. In planned events and class sessions, GIS Ambassadors, professionals and educators shared their passion for maps and the importance of geographic information systems (GIS) with students.

GIS Day is an opportunity for students to learn about the power of GIS, as it is a tool used to help us find solutions for issues such as traffic congestion, public safety, disaster management and much more! Across Canada, students made maps, analyzed data, explored Story Maps and learned about the application of GIS in different industries and possible careers paths.

Let’s explore some of the exciting GIS Day events that occurred in Canada, starting in Northern Canada.

Western Arctic

GIS Ambassadors Hayleigh Conway (Parks Canada) and Celtie Ferguson and Dr. Garfield Giff (Aurora Research Institute), along with Nanar Hakobyan from the Northwest Territories Centre for Geomatics presented to East Three Elementary School in Inuvik, and Mangilaluk School in Tuktoyaktuk.

Hayleigh Conway facilitated lessons and games on remote sensing and geography to K-12 students.

The West Coast

Stanley Park Ecology Society
Vancouver, British Columbia

Students visited Stanley Park to learn about invasive species found in the park. They collected data on particular species with the guidance of GIS Ambassador Jeannine Johnstone.

Students collected data on invasive species found in Stanley Park.


Jack Mackenzie Elementary School
Regina, Saskatchewan

GIS Ambassador Madoka Otani, from Information Services Corp worked with grade three and four students. They talked about why maps are important. Students created their own maps by tracing an aerial image around their school. They had a good time creating their maps, and some students were very excited about finding their house on the map. This was Madoka’ s fourth year at the school on GIS Day, and the teacher’s been using this event as a way to introduce geography to her class.

Madoka’s work is highlighted in December’s GIS Ambassador of the month blog post.

Eastern Canada

Delores D. Echum Composite School

Moose Factory, Ontario

GIS Day was celebrated with a Spatial Technologies class. Teacher Purnima Krishnan and GIS Ambassador Melissa Lavoie facilitated a workshop for the kids to learn about how GIS is used in different industries, and traditional uses of GIS. The students also had an opportunity to create their own web maps using ArcGIS Online.

GIS Ambassador Melissa Lavoie shared her knowledge about GIS and a guest speaker spoke about using GIS in Indigenous communities for land use and occupancy mapping. Explore the story map she used.

GIS Day in Cobourg, Ontario

Venture13 hosted a grade 9 class from Cobourg Collegiate Institute.

GIS Ambassador Jonathan Brown invited Esri Canada's Angela Alexander from the Education and Research group to facilitate an introductory ArcGIS Online workshop.

Students used the Discover ArcGIS Online tutorial to learn the basics of the software.

Thank you to all the committed GIS Ambassadors who helped make 2019 another successful year in supporting the use of GIS in K-12 education!

Explore the GIS Day 2019: A Canadian Perspective Story Map and get involved in a GIS Day event next year!

About the Author

Angela Alexander is a K-12 Education Resource Developer on the Esri Canada Education and Research team. She has over six years of experience working with educators across Canada. Angela is responsible for producing geographic information system (GIS) and curriculum specific resources, conducting and creating custom workshops for educators and judging and developing the question for the annual GIS Skills Ontario competition in Waterloo, Ontario. Angela has a Bachelor’s degree in Geography and Sociology from the University of Western Ontario and completed the Applied Digital Geography and GIS certificate program at Ryerson University.

Profile Photo of Angela Alexander