About Us

The War Heritage Research Initiative originated from the need to share the War Memories of Canada documentary and conversation kits.  Leading from that project, Royal Roads University has developed a partnership with Valour Canada to explore educational projects related to Canada’s war heritage.

We welcome the opportunity to partner with other universities and organizations interested in examining the relationship between war memory, heritage, commemoration and tourism/travel to these memorialized sites.

Project Lead: Dr. Geoffrey Bird, Professor, School of Communication and Culture

Geoff Bird photoGeoffrey Bird is a Professor and Lead of the War Heritage Research Initiative. He has been at Royal Roads University since 2008. Geoff completed his PhD in Anthropology in 2011 at the University of Brighton, focusing on the relationship between tourism, remembrance and landscapes of war, examining how sites are managed and interpreted as well as the meaning and insight people gain by visiting these places. In 2016, he co-edited two books on war heritage (listed below). He also directed and produced the documentary War Memories across Canada.  His background includes 30 years in the field of education working in government, then as a project manager in the field of sustainable tourism and poverty alleviation in Malaysia and Vietnam. He was a visiting researcher and professor at Monash University and Munich University of Applied Sciences. He also served as an officer in the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve and as a heritage interpreter at the Canadian National Memorial at Vimy Ridge, France.  To reach Geoff, please email him at warheritage@royalroads.ca


Recent publications related to war heritage (in addition to the films found on the WHRI site)

  • With Leighton, H., McLean, A. (2019). A matter of life and death: Tourism as sensual remembrance. In Tourism and embodiment, pp. 121-139. Abingdon: Routledge
  • With G.R., Reeves, K., Claxton, S. (2016). Managing and interpreting D-Day’s sites of memory:  Guardians of remembrance: Routledge, Abdingdon, Oxford.  
  • With G.R., Reeves, K., James, L., Stichelbaut, B. & Bourgeois, J. (2016).  Battlefield events: Landscape, commemoration and heritage.  Routledge, Abdingdon, Oxford.
  • with Westcott, M., Thiesen, N. (2018). ‘Marketing dark heritage: Building brands, myth-making and social marketing.’ In Stone, P.R., Hartmann, R., Seaton., T., Sharpley, R,. & White, L. (Eds) The Palgrave MacMillan Handbook of Dark Tourism Studies. London: Palgrave Macmillian, pp.646-665.
  • (2019). Remembering well? Canada and the Great War centenary. For 1914-1918-online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War. Free University of Berlin. http://encyclopedia.1914-1918-online.net/home/
  • (2020). A Moral Awakening. Uranium mining, the Manhattan Project and the Sahtu Deline NWT. http://moralawakening.ca (July, 2020 to present)  ​
  • (2020, August 8). Legacy of Canada’s role in atomic bomb is felt by northern Indigenous community. The Conversation.
  • (2020) Canada’s dream shall be of them: Canadian epitaphs of the Great War. Book Review. First World War Studies. 11 (1) 100-101. https://doi.org/10.1080/19475020.2020.1848005
  • (2022, June 5). D-Day: The politics involved in how war should be memorialized and remembered. The Conversation.
  • With Palmer, C. (2023). Architecture of memorialisation: the Spitfire and the making of a memorial icon. International Journal of Heritage Studies, 29(4), 346-362. https://doi.org/10.1080/13527258.2023.2187858


Archival Researcher: Karen Charlebois

Karen Charlebois is the Archival Researcher for the War Heritage Research Initiative. She has a Master of Library Science and a Bachelor of Arts (History) from the University of British Columbia. Karen has extensive research experience and has worked in public, academic and business libraries since 1986.

Past Projects

The War Heritage Research Initiative team engages in a range of project related to commemoration and remembrance. Listed here is a summary of projects

BC Remembers the First World War: A Provincial Forum (2014)

Sponsored by the BC Museums Association, BC Heritage, and the City of Victoria, Royal Roads University hosted a planning forum with representatives of museums, archives and heritage sites. One hundred attended the event either on site or online. The format involved a range of questions and roundtable discussions to explore how cultural agencies could engage in the First World War centenary. Below is the summary report, along with a presentation of various commemorative initiatives.

Read the full report

BC Remembers the First World War PowerPoint

Commonwealth War Memory Pilot Project – North America (Report)

Executive Summary: The aim of the Commonwealth War Memory Pilot Project (CWMPP) assessed how commemorations are best supported, initiated and organized, as well as the outcome and impact from the commemorative experience. The purpose of the project is to contribute to identifying what support, resources and services are required for a larger commemoration initiative across North America in 2017. This report outlines the lessons learned, successes and challenges, and provides recommendations for a broader North American approach. Approximately 720 individuals took part in CWMPP events in Calgary, Ottawa, Toronto, Saint John and Miami, Oklahoma. The project was a partnership between the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Royal Roads University and Valour Canada.

Read the full report

Dachau Memorial Site Community Guides

Executive Summary: Remembrance in the 21st century presents society with new challenges. The ever-dwindling number of Holocaust survivors compels us to consider the future of remembrance not as witnesses remembering the past, but as education of future generations. Sites of memory such as Dachau Memorial Site are critical to this education. We have launched a project entitled Dachau Memorial Site Community Guides in collaboration with local tour guides of the Dachau Memorial site. They stand on the front line of remembrance education, providing information to thousands of visitors every year. The goal of our project is to explore the challenges that the guides face and collectively create solutions to providing meaningful interpretation of the site. A four-month-long workshop presents opportunity to introduce a number of pedagogical techniques that the guides will practice in their tours.