This weekend marks the 25th anniversary of the annual Canadian Geographic Challenge! This year’s top 20 finalists, some of whom are returning champions, pressed on with their geographic studies despite school closures, earning a spot in the competition. After a year’s worth of hard work, one of these eager young geographers will walk away with the national championship title. 

The Challenge is open to Canadian students in grades 7-10. The students who have reached the national final level first went through a series of classroom, school and provincial or territorial-level rounds that tested their knowledge of geographic concepts. The national final is typically an in-person event taking place in the nation’s capital, but this year’s final will be delivered online in a slightly modified format. The five finalists who score the highest after completing the written and fieldwork rounds on Saturday will compete via videoconferencing in the live final round on Sunday, May 31. Supporters of the program will have the chance to watch the live final and cheer on the students from the comfort of their homes. 

Since being invited to participate in the national final, this year’s finalists have been enthusiastically vocal about their passion for the subject and the excitement of a friendly competition. Jean-Paul Lefebvre from Whitehorse, Yukon, said he prepared by “planning a trip (for fun) from Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., to Tierra del Fuego National Park in Chile and Argentina.” 

Aaron Chung from Markham, Ont., used a different strategy. “Google Earth has always been of interest to me,” says Chung. “It is especially exciting to see the different topographical landscapes of the world from an aerial view.” 

Returning finalist Matthew Woodward of London, Ont., had these wise words to share with future candidates interested in the competition, “This is a pretty fun competition. Even though there are prizes on the line, don't be too hard on yourself throughout the national final weekend. I found that the weekend was more of a learning experience, and a time to make friends.” 

On Saturday evening, audiences will find out via Can Geo Education’s social media channels who will be competing in the live final round, and can watch Sunday’s event by tuning in to Canadian Geographic’s YouTube channel. For geography trivia enthusiasts, this is a chance to test your knowledge against some of Canada’s leading geography students!

Meet the 2020 Can Geo Challenge national finalists:

Aaron Chung
Grade 9, St. Augustine Catholic High School, Markham, Ont.

Awad Khalid
Grade 10, Webber Academy, Calgary


Charlie McEwen
Grade 8, Halifax Grammar School

Elijah Mandelbaum
Grade 9, University of Toronto Schools


Elliott Nason
Grade 10, Fredericton High School


Jean-Paul Lefebvre
Grade 7, Christ the King Elementary School, Whitehorse, Yukon


Julian Bal
Grade 8, Kitchener-Waterloo Bilingual School, Waterloo, Ont.


Matthew Woodward
Grade 10, London Central Secondary School, London, Ont.

Micah Colman
Grade 10, Glebe Collegiate Institute, Ottawa


Nicholas Hume
Grade 10, Leo Hayes High School, Fredericton, N.B.

Noah Deng
Grade 10, Vincent Massey Secondary School, Windsor, Ont.


Pepa Prochazka
Grade 10, Dr. G. W. Williams Secondary School, Aurora, Ont. 


Ryan Wu
Grade 9, Nepean High School, Ottawa


Steven Gu
Grade 9, Milliken Mills High School, Markham, Ont.
Tamara Bain
Grade 7, East Three Secondary School, Inuvik, N.W.T.

Tassani Fast
Grade 10, Niverville High School, Niverville, Man.
Tony Wang
Grade 9, Merivale High School, Ottawa
Ty Gundling
Grade 7, Navigate NIDES, Courtenay, B.C.
Xavier Spano
Grade 9, Nelson High School, Burlington, Ont.

Yannik Abajian
Grade 8, Renert School, Calgary