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On the Map with Defining Moments Canada

February’s On the Map features Defining Moments Canada (DMC). Find out why they are using ArcGIS StoryMaps to promote important stories that have taken place in Canada to the K-12 education community.

Defining Moments Canada (DMC) is the first On the Map featured Esri Canada Education partner. This Canadian heritage organization is dedicated to commemorating “definitional moments” in shared histories of national importance to Canadians.

The Defining Moments in Canada log in black and red.

We recently chatted with Louis Lebel, the Digital Content Manager at DMC who presented at the GIS Day Tech Talk in November 2022. He told us how DMC are using story maps to present important shared histories to K-12 students and teachers. Let’s find out more.

What grades/courses are the DMC resources designed for?

The resources for all Defining Moments Canada projects are designed for kindergarten to grade 12. However, the story maps are aimed at high school students.

Tell us about the projects that you have done in the past year and what was the purpose of them

Our two big projects were the Bryce@100 project and the All For 9 & 9 For All project.


Bryce@100, is a national commemorative project highlighting the 1922 publication of Dr. Peter Bryce’s “Story of a National Crime” pamphlet, in which he calls out health conditions at residential schools for being “criminally” bad. He served as chief medical officer to the department of Indian Affairs for nearly 20 years and repeatedly produced reports urging the government to act but was silenced and eventually pushed into retirement.

An old image of a residential school in Canada in black and white.

Learn more about the Bryce@100 project on the DMC web site.

Our project aims to use a Two Eyed Seeing approach, applying both a settler and indigenous lens, to understand the importance of this report, of allyship, and the historical and ongoing impact of residential schools.

 All for 9 & 9 for All

Our other project, All For 9 & 9 for All, commemorates the 1872 “Nine Hours Movement” for shorter working days and serves as a broader project on the history of labour movements in Canada. We want to cover important topics such as strikes, labour, leisure, and collective action.

The aim of the project is to commemorate the movement that led to unions being legalized, and the impact of these on Canadians and Canadian society since.

Why did you use ArcGIS StoryMaps for the DMC projects?

In the past, we’ve used ArcGIS StoryMaps for each of our projects, usually focusing on microhistories to tell the stories of people who contributed to history. We’ve done this for our VEday75 commemoration about the Second World War or our Nobel Canadian project about Nobel laureates.

We are currently in the process of consulting with our Indigenous partners to decide how we will apply story maps to the Bryce@100 project.

For the All For 9 project, we created a story map to teach the history of Strikes in Canada. This story map features an immersive audio track of industrial sounds and highlights one seminal strike from each province in the country. Students can either scroll chronologically or navigate the map to learn about union action throughout the country geographically and historically.

An image showing a long line of men protesting during labour movements in the 1800s.

Explore the All for 9 & 9 for All story map to learn more about moment that led to unions being legalized.

Why do you think ArcGIS StoryMaps is a valuable tool for teaching and learning?

We love to use ArcGIS for all our projects and will continue to do so because we think it is key for students to learn in an interactive and creative medium that supports differentiated learning styles.

A story map allows students to scroll themselves in a variety of ways and to come across text, images, sounds and videos. They can focus on what speaks to them and scroll past what strikes them less. It also allows them to take control of their learning.

For teaching history, which is our modus operandi, this is an immensely valuable tool to steer away from the traditional essay or lecture. It is also an excellent tool for students to learn as they create their own story maps, where they must come to a good understanding of their subject matter to tell its story with this medium. It really is an awesome tool for teachers and students alike, and we want to showcase it as much as we can.

What’s next? Any new projects in the horizon in 2023

We are a project focused organization.  Each year we apply for funding from various sources to support a project where we will create a variety of resources that will be free for everyone to use. We’ve put in a few applications that we are very excited about, but we can’t share the details about them quite yet! We can say that the new stories will be told using ArcGIS StoryMaps.

We are excited to keep working on our current projects and updating content to the story maps we already have created.

How do you promote your resources?

We are a growing organization, and our work thus far has been focused on creating resources for our projects. We do some outreach via newsletter, e-blasts, social media and sometimes traditional media, and have participated in workshops and conferences with Esri Canada as a partner. We hope to do more promotion and outreach in the future as we grow. 

DMC Resources

Explore all the DMC stories and find ArcGIS resources to get started with using ArcGIS StoryMaps.

Watch the DMC and Esri Canada GIS Day Tech Talk from November 2023.

In celebration of Geography Awareness Week and GIS Day, Defining Moments Canada and Esri Canada came together to explore how geography connects communities and how we can use it to tell our shared histories across Canada. In this one-hour webinar, see how DMC uses ArcGIS StoryMaps in heritage projects, how teachers and educators can implement story mapping in their teaching, and how you can get started using these freely available resources in K-12.

Thank you, Louis for sharing the most recent DMC projects and why story maps are being used to promote history in Canada to K-12 students. We look forward to seeing the Bryce@100 story map when it is completed.

Other ArcGIS History Resources

Discover ArcGIS Online lessons, maps and web apps that cover Canadian and global history.

A map showing Vimy Ridge overlaid with a map of Canadian troop movements.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge lesson is one of the many Esri Canada K-12 lessons that you can use to integrate ArcGIS Online into your teaching. In this lesson, students will gain a deeper understanding of the significance of this battle to Canadians both at the time of the event and since then to the present day.

We want to hear from educators

You can share activities that you want to update with ArcGIS. Our group can support you with ideas and suggestions. Email us at

New to ArcGIS Online?

If you are new to ArcGIS Online, educators can request an account for themselves and their students at

Explore the Esri Canada K-12 Resource Finder to find other resources for your class.

Check out the following beginner resources to get started with ArcGIS Online:

For Educators - Let’s get started with ArcGIS Online
Explore the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

For Students – Enroute with ArcGIS Online

Using ArcGIS Online and want to learn more?

Discover Story Maps

Creating ArcGIS Dashboards  

About the Author

Angela Alexander is a K-12 Education Specialist in the Esri Canada Education and Research group. She has over 15 years of experience working with educators across Canada. Angela focuses on producing geographic information system (GIS) and curriculum-specific resources, and conducting and creating custom workshops for educators. She manages the GIS Ambassador Program and is the Technical Chair for the annual Skills Ontario GIS competition. Angela also writes monthly posts for the Esri Canada Education and Research blog, highlighting K-12 educators and partners, new ArcGIS resources and GIS-related events.

Profile Photo of Angela Alexander