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Statement on COVID-19 from RCGS CEO John Geiger

A message to our readers, Fellows, members and supporters from John Geiger, CEO of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society and Canadian Geographic Enterprises:

Thank you for visiting our website at this challenging time. I want to take this opportunity to briefly describe to you the measures we are taking as a national charity, as the publisher of Canadian Geographic and other national magazines, and as an educational organization (Canadian Geographic Education), to address the present pandemic and keep our staff, volunteers and community safe.

Firstly, the Society has taken the difficult and necessary decision to cancel or postpone all of its travel programs, expeditions, educational events and public speaking engagements. Secondly, the Society closed its offices at 50 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, on March 17, and staff are working from the safety of their homes. We have also made some difficult, but unfortunately necessary, staffing decisions to ensure the health of the Society. Under these difficult circumstances, I am particularly proud of the efforts of the Canadian Geographic team, which put together the May/June issue of the magazine virtually — a first.

On March 30th, the Canadian Geographic Education team responded to an outpouring of requests from our partners and 23,500-plus education members, and quickly moved its education program online, launching our free Online Classroom to support all teachers and students and families at home.

Finally, I want to say a particular thank you to all of our members and supporters who continue to value and champion our important work through these uncertain times. A number of our key partners have also been assisting to ensure that The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, Canadian Geographic and Canadian Geographic Education can continue to play a vital role in helping us better know our wonderful country, its people and places and to make sense of the world.

As we work together to deal with the enormous human and economic implications of COVID-19, it is worth remembering that a little more than a year ago, we launched Unmasking Influenza, a multimedia educational project that included a feature-length documentary, shorter explainer videos, a giant floor map, an educational website, a feature article in the September/October 2018 issue of Canadian Geographic and a public exhibit at the 2018 Canadian Immunization Conference in Ottawa. Medical geography is part of the discipline that incorporates geographic techniques into the study of health and the spread of diseases. Our program was developed to educate and better prepare all Canadians, including policy makers, about the national and global impacts of pandemics. It is a reminder that there is an important role for the Society in the challenging times ahead.

Let me conclude by wishing you well. Stay safe. Stay healthy. And while we are physically distancing, let us all strive to increase our efforts to be more socially cohesive — as a community and a country.

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