Home Four honourees announced for historic 2024 Symons Medal

Four honourees announced for historic 2024 Symons Medal

– Lecture and presentation scheduled for Tuesday, October 15 – 

Clockwise from top left: Christy Clark, Philippe Couillard, Joseph Handley, Frank McKenna. 

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May 30, 2024 – Confederation Centre of the Arts will award four former premiers with the prestigious Symons Medal this October to mark the 20th anniversary of the annual medal presentation and lecture. 

The Symons Medal recognizes individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to Canadian life. Held annually, the medal presentation and its associated lecture offer a national platform for eminent Canadians to discuss the nation’s current state and prospects using themes related to their professional pursuits. 

This year, the Symons Medal will be awarded to four former premiers; Christy Clark, 35th premier of British Columbia; Dr. Philippe Couillard, 31st premier of Quebec; Joseph Handley, 10th premier of the Northwest Territories; and Frank McKenna, 27th premier of New Brunswick and 20th Canadian Ambassador to the United States of America.     

“Confederation Centre of the Arts is thrilled to present this award to four honourees from four distinct regions of Canada,” says Centre CEO Steve Bellamy. “Their time as premiers covers four decades of Canadian politics, from the 1980s through the 2010s, and their wealth of experiences from different sides of the political spectrum will make this a riveting event.”  

The Symons Medal Lecture is typically delivered by one person, but this year’s event will feature a new format. Each medallist will give a short lecture and then join a panel discussion.  

“It has been 160 years since the 1864 Charlottetown Conference, and with Confederation Centre of the Arts celebrating its 60th anniversary and the Symons Medal marking 20 years, we want to commemorate these milestones with a historic edition of the event,” adds Robert Sear, Centre board chair of and co-chair of the Symons Medal Committee. “Honouring four Symons medallists will be a first and adds extra excitement to what will be an engaging day.” 

The Symons Medal is named after the late Professor Thomas H.B. Symons, the founding president of Trent University and a long-time board member and supporter of Confederation Centre of the Arts. Symons was widely recognized for his work in the field of Canadian Studies, particularly in the areas of public policy, heritage, and education. Today’s announcement date, May 30, honours Symons’ birthday.  

Since 2004, the Centre has honoured 23 distinguished individuals with the Symons Medal, including environmental activist Dr. David Suzuki, broadcast journalist Shelagh Rogers, former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed, diplomat Bob Rae, and Governor General Mary Simon. 

The 2024 Symons Medal Presentation and Lecture will take place at Confederation Centre of the Arts on Tuesday, October 15. Tickets for the event will become available at a later date. For more information about the Symons Medal, visit confederationcentre.com/symons


About the 2024 Symons Medallists 

Christy Clark, 35th premier of British Columbia
Christy Clark is the longest-serving female premier in Canadian history, and the only woman in Canada ever to be re-elected as premier, making an indelible mark on the Canadian political landscape. Her legacy is marked by a deep commitment to planning for future generations, and leaving behind a province with a diversified economy, expanded market opportunities, a visionary clean energy plan, billions of dollars invested in infrastructure, and a significant reduction in the public debt burden to be carried by future generations of British Columbians.

The Honourable Dr. Philippe Couillard PC, 31st premier of Quebec
Dr. Philippe Couillard served as Chief Surgeon in the Department of Neurosurgery at the Hôpital Saint-Luc in Montreal, later co-founding the Dhahran Department of Neurosurgery in Saudi Arabia. Upon his return to Canada, he served as professor at Université de Sherbrooke from 1996 to 2003 and chairman of surgery at the Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke from 2000 to 2003. First elected to the Quebec National Assembly in 2003, Philippe Couillard has served as Quebec Minister of Health and Social Services and, in 2013, became the 31st Premier of Quebec.

Joseph Handley, 10th premier of the Northwest Territories
Following a career as an educator, Joseph “Joe” Handley worked as deputy minister for several departments within the government of the Northwest Territories, leaving in 1999 to run successfully for election to the NWT Legislative Assembly. He held several cabinet portfolios, including Finance and Transportation. In 2003, he ran unopposed for the territories’ premiership. Joe has also been the recipient of a number of awards including the National Aboriginal Achievement Award (2008).

The Honourable Frank McKenna PC OC ONB KC F.ICD, 27th premier of New Brunswick, 20th Canadian Ambassador to the United States of America
Frank McKenna is one of Canada’s most respected political and business leaders. He was elected Premier of New Brunswick in 1987, where he served for 10 years. In 2005 he was named Canadian Ambassador to the United States. Since 2006, he has worked as an executive with TD Bank Group, and in 2020 joined TD Securities.

Media Contact:  Emily McMahon, Communications Manager, Confederation Centre of the Arts 
[email protected] | 902-628-6135