MediaSmarts (formerly known as Media Awareness Network) came out of a TV violence initiative launched by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in the early 1990s.

The organization started life in 1994 under the auspices of the National Film Board of Canada. We were incorporated as an independent entity in 1996, under the leadership of a volunteer board that then, as now, included representatives from leading Canadian media companies, government, and the education, library and not-for-profit sectors.

How Media Awareness Network (MNet) became MediaSmarts

Media Awareness NetworkIn 2009, MNet embarked on a three year process which culminated in the release of our new brand “MediaSmarts” in May 2012. With our fifteenth anniversary taking place in 2011, we recognized this was a pivotal point in our history and an opportune time to re-envision the organization to meet the educational challenges of the digital age. We’d come a long way from our original inception as a clearinghouse for resources on media violence to a world leader in digital and media literacy— but we needed to ensure our relevancy and sustainability for the next 15 years.

A Strategic Planning Committee of the Board of Directors was tasked with redefining the organization, emphasizing our leadership in the area of digital literacy. What became quickly evident was that we needed to revitalize the Media Awareness Network brand with a new look and name that would better communicate who we are and what we do. Working with a wonderful creative team at the Toronto-based agency Brandworks (who volunteered hours of their valuable time to this effort) we spent several months developing a new name and logo.MediaSmarts logo

MediaSmarts was our final choice because it succinctly gets to the core of what we’re all about: critical thinking about media. We live in a wired world today: kids are using a wide range of digital devices, and adults can’t keep up. So how can we make sure that our kids are safe, but also savvy and informed? In the same way we teach them street smarts we now need to teach them “media smarts”.

While much has changed through the re-branding process – our name, our logo and our website – our mission and core beliefs remain the same, as does our commitment to helping to raise a media savvy generation of young Canadians.




Initially housed within the Ottawa offices of the National Film Board of Canada, the concept of Media Awareness Network begins to take shape.

The Media Awareness Network receives seed funding from Bell Canada, CBC, WIC - Western International Communications, CHUM Television, Health Canada, Justice Canada, Canadian Heritage, Industry Canada, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

MNet launches its pioneering media education website, and incorporates as a national non-profit organization.

The federal government grants MNet charitable status.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announces it will not regulate the Internet, highlighting the importance of education and MNet’s work in its decision. (Telecom Public Notice CRTC 99-14)

In recognition of its extensive collection of anti-racism education resources, MNet is awarded the inaugural Canadian Race Relations Foundation Award of Excellence.

MNet releases the results of Canada’s first survey of Canadian parents on the subject of their children’s Internet use, entitled Canada’s Children in a Wired World: The Parents’ View.

The Government of Canada releases its Cyberwise strategy on addressing illegal and offensive content on the Internet. MNet is a key partner in the strategy, which calls for initiatives that “educate and empower users”.

MNet releases the results of its ground-breaking survey of almost 6,000 Canadian students: Young Canadians in a Wired World: The Students’ View.

MNet unveils a redesigned website that features expanded content and resources, as well as improved usability and navigation.

MNet is included in UNESCO’s comprehensive Media Education: A Kit for Teachers,

Students, Parents and Professionals, as a Canadian ‘best practice’.

MNet launches the first ever National Media Education Week, with lead partner Canadian Teachers’ Federation.

National Media Education Week is changed to ‘Media Literacy Week’ to encourage broader involvement in the annual event. 

MNet releases its Digital Literacy in Canada discussion paper in response to the Government of Canada’s Digital Economy Consultation. The paper calls for digital literacy as a cornerstone for a national digital strategy.

MNet releases findings from Young Canadians in a Wired World Phase III research – Teachers’ Perspectives – which explores the attitudes of Canadian teachers regarding networked technologies in classrooms.  

MNet releases findings from Young Canadians in a Wired World Phase III focus groups with parents, children and youth – Talking to Youth and Parents about Life Online. The ground work for a national student survey is initiated.

MNet releases its new brand MediaSmarts and launches a newly redesigned website.

MediaSmarts partners with the Information and Communications Technology Council to host a Youth and Digital Skills symposium to explore policies, programs and partnerships to advance digital literacy skills development in Canada.

MediaSmarts releases Life Online, the first report in a series of studies drawn from data collected in a  national survey of 5,436 students through the Young Canadians in a Wired World Phase III research project.