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, Associate Professor

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

  • Bird, G.R., Leighton, H., McLean, A. (2019). A matter of life and death: Tourism as sensual remembrance. In Tourism and embodiment, pp. 121-139. Abingdon: Routledge
  • Lead editor, with Reeves, K., Claxton, S. (2016). Managing and interpreting D-Day’s sites of memory:  Guardians of remembrance: Routledge, Abdingdon, Oxford.  
  • Co-editor, with Reeves, K., James, L., Stichelbaut, B. & Bourgeois, J. (2016).  Battlefield events: Landscape, commemoration and heritage.  Routledge, Abdingdon, Oxford.

Research Assistant: Ann-Kathrin McLean, Doctor of Social Sciences (candidate)

Ann-Kathrin is an Associate Faculty at Royal Roads University in the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management. She holds a Bachelor of Tourism Management and Master of Arts in Tourism Management from Thompson Rivers University and Royal Roads University, respectively. She is currently working on her Doctor of Social Sciences through Royal Roads University to further develop her research passion and knowledge within her fields of interest.

Ann-Kathrin’s research evaluates memory studies in a contemporary society and hones in on the interplay between heritage tourism, war remembrance and place-based pedagogy. Of specific focus is how millennials interpret sites of Nazi war heritage and construct individual meaning. Considering the impacts of populism, globalization and new media, both in situ and in populo sites will be visited nationwide. Her research explores the following disciplines: anthropology, education, history, and geography, which together help identify and understand an individuals’ performance of war remembrance. In order to help mitigate the memory loss across generations, Ann-Kathrin is intrigued as to how digital media and other interpretive tools can be successfully implemented at sites of memory to engage interaction and assist in fostering education of the subject matter within the 21st Century.

Recent publications

  • Bird, G.R., Leighton, H., McLean, A. (2019). A matter of life and death: Tourism as sensual remembrance. In Tourism and embodiment, pp. 121-139. Abingdon: Routledge.

  • Kirchmeier, F (Translated by McLean, A.) (2016). German war cemeteries in Normandy: the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgraeberfuersorge. In G. Bird, K. Reeves, S. Claxton (Eds.), Managing and interpreting D-Day’s sites of memory: Guardians of remembrance (pp. 91-102)Abdingdon, Oxford: Routledge.

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.