The Government of Northwest Territories and Laurier partnership has significantly grown the numbers of students trained to work in the North and contributed to the growth of scientific monitoring and knowledge. Over the past 10 years, more than 273 undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers have contributed to extensive research projects across the NWT.
Over the past 10 years, Laurier has developed its national and international leadership in cold regions research. Laurier was recently successful in partnering with the University of Saskatchewan in accessing $78-million over the next seven years to support Global Water Futures (GWF) through the Canada First Research Excellence Fund. The goal of GWF is to deliver risk management solutions to manage water resources throughout Canada where global warming is changing landscapes, ecosystems, and the water environment. More specifically, through GWF, Laurier will lead several research initiatives throughout the Northwest Territories (NWT), raising the profile of NWT contributions to research on a global stage.
To further assist in enhancing and broadening this important partnership and to support our growing capacity for research needs in the NWT, Laurier has established a research office in downtown Yellowknife. The office includes full-time researchers and technical support staff, and serves as a base for graduate students involved in research. Having full-time Yellowknife-based personnel allows for year-round fieldwork, and the ability to build deeper relationships with Laurier’s partners in the NWT. A year-round presence in the region allows us to more effectively work with all Government of NWT departments and agencies and communities throughout the NWT in supporting their present and future research needs.
Projects are exploring boreal forest dynamics, including carbon cycling, trees and lichen, and water flux. Projects related to land changes include permafrost thaw, regeneration after fire, tall shrub expansion on arctic tundra and land stewardship including waste management. Food security projects include the Yellowknife Harvest Fair. Mapping the Bathurst Caribou herd and knowledge on the land is on-going. Monitoring projects include bio-monitoring, community-led aquatic monitoring, infrastructure monitoring, and developing sensors. Laboratory studies are also monitoring contaminants, and monitoring mines to inform risk assessment. Development and tourism studies, literacy and language learning, and on-the-land camps are also underway. Laurier researchers in the NWT are also participating in global climate networks, engaging in traditional knowledge, and doing science outreach.
“Being involved in the initial partnership development remains one of the highlights of my administrative and research career.” – Deborah MacLatchy, President and Vice-Chancellor, Wilfrid Laurier University
“Being involved in the initial partnership development remains one of the highlights of my administrative and research career.”
– Deborah MacLatchy, President and Vice-Chancellor, Wilfrid Laurier University
In May 2010, Wilfrid Laurier University and the Government of the Northwest Territories signed a 10-year partnership agreement to expand the Territories’ capacity to conduct environmental research and monitoring and build the expertise needed to manage its natural resources for future generations. Being involved in the initial partnership development remains one of the highlights of my administrative and research career.
Looking back, Laurier’s initial research goals were to investigate landscape and hydrologic changes, forest fire dynamics and sustainable communities. I am pleased to see that not only have we generated a significant amount of data in these areas, our researchers and their students have also built meaningful relationships in the communities where they work.
These relationships help us better understand how we can meet community needs and deliver the training needed to empower citizens in the North as they navigate the impacts of climate change and resource development. Our researchers have spent almost a decade working to support communities, educate youth and re-establish connections to the land. Empowering communities is the essence of knowledge mobilization and a key component of Laurier’s research mission.
This partnership between Laurier and the Government of the Northwest Territories has improved our understanding of the environment and related socio-economic factors in the North. We hope the knowledge we have built together will help inform regulatory policies and decision-making in communities.
I look forward to seeing how this Partnership will continue to evolve and grow to achieve our shared goal of “science in the Northwest Territories, for the Northwest Territories, and by the Northwest Territories.”
Deborah MacLatchy, PhD
President and Vice-Chancellor
Wilfrid Laurier University
Our Partnership with the Government of the Northwest Territories has been a central focus of Laurier’s northern research initiatives, and the success of the Partnership has exceeded our expectations when we embarked on this journey in 2009. The expansion in funding, in projects, in interaction with communities and in the broadening of the research agenda has been a testimony to the vision that was embedded in the development of the Partnership.
Our relationship with the Government of the Northwest Territories and communities is based on our commitment to ‘impact’, working with our partners on the ground at research sites including Trail Valley Creek, Scotty Creek, and in communities and locations across the NWT. Our activity in the North is based on the growth of supporters and funders that have invested in the vision of our Partnership to build operating capacity and infrastructure across the NWT. In 2017 I was pleased to welcome guests, researchers, and community members to the opening of our Yellowknife Research Office. It is exciting to have a place where our researchers can work and join the day-to-day fabric of the Yellowknife community.
Of particular significance are the experiences and training that students of all levels have had through participating in northern focused research, through increasing their involvement with communities and expanding opportunities for community-driven research. Laurier students have come away transformed by their learning and experiences on the land and through their field work in the NWT. These young people who have been inspired by the north are a testament to the long-lasting impact of the Partnership in blending on the land knowledge, capacity building and scientific training.
This report illustrates a sample of the work of the over 270 students, over 15 universities who are involved in Laurier-led research in the NWT. The number of students working in the North has expanded 10-fold during the maturation of the relationship, and we look forward to continue to broaden the relationships and to continue to create together projects that use science and local knowledge to inform policy and decision-making in the North by communities and decision makers at all levels. We look forward to continue to enhance and expand the research in other disciplines important to the development of NWT communities, including agriculture, waste management, community development, food security, and public health and catalyzing opportunities for emerging knowledge-based businesses.
Laurier is committed to continue to nurture our working relationships across the north and NWT. I look forward to another ten years of fruitful collaboration as part of our partnership.
Robert Gordon, PhD
Provost and Vice-President: Academic
Wilfrid Laurier University
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