The Centre for All Canadians



Held annually, The Symons Medal Lecture on the State of Canadian Confederation provides a national platform for a distinguished Canadian to discuss the current state and future prospects of Confederation. It provides all Canadians an opportunity to reflect upon their country and its future. The Medal Ceremony and Lecture is held each fall in Charlottetown to mark the meetings of the Fathers of Confederation in September 1864.

The lecture honours Professor Thomas H.B. Symons, a long-time supporter and board member of the Confederation Centre for many years. Professor Symons, the founding President of Trent University in Ontario, is widely recognized for his work in the field of Canadian Studies, in particular in the areas of public policy, heritage and education.

It is the mandate of Confederation Centre of the Arts, Canada’s national memorial to the founding of Confederation, to inspire Canadians to celebrate, through heritage and the arts, the founding, and evolution of Canadian Confederation. Confederation Centre fulfills this mandate in part by presenting Canadian leaders through public policy initiatives such as the Symons Medal and Lecture series.





The 2021 Symons Medal will be awarded to the Honourable Louise Arbour, CC, GOQ on Friday, October 29 in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

“We look forward to welcoming Madame Arbour to Charlottetown this fall to share her perspective and reflect on a life spent in pursuit of civil justice for all, including her important work with the United Nations, the Supreme Court of Canada, and beyond.”Each year since 2004, the Symons Committee, co-chaired by Robert Sear and George Kitching, selects a recipient from a list of outstanding nominees. “On behalf of Confederation Centre of the Arts and CEO Steve Bellamy, I am pleased to announce the Honourable Louise Arbour as the 21st Recipient of the Symons Medal,” states Sear, chair of the Fathers of Confederation Buildings Trust.

The Symons Medal Lecture offers an eminent Canadian a national platform to discuss the state of Confederation from their vantage point and through their professional lens.

A high-profile Canadian lawyer, prosecutor, and jurist, Madame Arbour was appointed to the Supreme Court of Ontario in 1987 and the Court of Appeal for Ontario in 1990.

In 1996, the Security Council of the United Nations appointed Madame Arbour Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. In this role, she secured the first conviction for genocide (Rwanda) since the 1948 Genocide Convention and the first indictment for war crimes by a sitting European head of state (Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic).

Madame Arbour was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999 and in 2004 she was appointed High Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations, and later the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on International Migration.

Madame Arbour, Senior Counsel at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, was recently appointed to lead an independent review into sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Madame Arbour has received numerous honorary doctorates and awards. She is a Companion of the Order of Canada and a Grand Officer of the Ordre national du Québec. She follows a formidable line of Symons Medallists, including the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, Dr. David Suzuki, and the Honourable Bob Rae.



Watch The lecture:
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Livestream on Facebook  

Click Here to Watch the Facebook Livestream on Oct 29 

7:00 p.m. ADT/Atlantic
7:30 p.m. NDT/Newfoundland
3:00 p.m. PDT/Pacific
4:00 p.m. MDT/Mountain
5:00 p.m. CDT/Central
6:00 p.m. EDT/Eastern






2020 Lecture The Honourable Bob Rae, Canada’s Ambassador to the UN
2019 Lecture The Honourable Senator Murray Sinclair
2018 Lecture Dr. Margaret MacMillan, historian
2017 Lecture The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
2016 Lecture Antonine Maillet, novelist and playwright
2015 Lecture Paul Gross, actor, writer, and director
2014 Lectures Stephen Lewis, human rights activist; and,

His Royal Highness Charles, Prince of Wales

2013 Lecture The Right Honourable Paul Martin
2012 Lecture Dr. David Suzuki
2011 Lecture Dr. Ivan Fellegi, former Chief Statistician of Canada
2010 Lecture The Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada
2009 Lecture Mary Simon, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, national Inuit organization
2008 Lecture The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of Canada and Dr. Ian E. Wilson, Librarian and Archivist of Canada
2007 Lecture The Honourable John Crosbie and The Honourable Peter Lougheed
2006 Lecture Mark Starowicz, producer and journalist
2005 Lecture The Honorable Roy McMurtry, Chief Justice of Ontario
2004 Lecture The Honourable Jean Charest, Premier of Quebec



Professor Thomas H. B. Symons,

C., OOnt, LLD, DU, DLitt, DCnL, FRSC, FRGS


Professor Symons passed away in January at the age of 91. “Tom” is widely recognized for his contributions in the areas of public policy, heritage, and education—dedicating his life to community and nation-building. This video is a celebration of Tom Symons and his long-standing relationship with the Island, including the Centre and Shaw’s Hotel in Brackley, which he visited annually for more than 70 years.

Produced by Confederation Centre of the Arts, 2021, featured interviews include the Honourable H. Frank Lewis, Catherine Hennessey, H. Wayne Hambly, Robert Sear, Robbie Shaw, and Steve Bellamy; as well as music from Charlene and Gordon Belsher and Atlantic String Machine.




The Symons Trust Endowment Fund


The Symons Trust Endowment Fund was created in 1994 to help finance heritage programming, specifically The Symons Medal Lecture. All donations to this fund are eligible for up to dollar for dollar matching through the Endowment Incentives component of the Department of Canadian Heritage’s Canada Cultural Investment Fund. For more on our Foundation and to donate online please click here.



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What are Relaxed Performances?


Sometimes referred to as sensory-friendly experiences, Relaxed Performances give the opportunity for those with various sensitivities towards sensory stimuli to experience and enjoy live theatre.

These performances will be designed in a way to be more comfortable for audience members who may experience anxiety or are not comfortable with some aspects of a traditional theatre setting. This can include people on the Autism Spectrum and their families; those with sensory and communicative disorders or learning disabilities; people with Tourette’s syndrome; someone who might need to move often due to chronic pain or to use the facilities; or even parents with toddlers.



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