At Laurier, we are a community spanning multiple geographical locations. We're also part of the greater communities in which we work, in the North as well as in the South. That's why we make significant efforts to engage local communities in our northern research. This means ensuring northern communities have a voice in, and can benefit from, the work we do. We also organize events where people in the South can learn about the research we do in the North.
Before we begin projects in any northern community or First Nation, our researchers take care to meet with local people and governments to ensure any projects are of mutual benefit and are conducted in an environmentally responsible and culturally appropriate manner.
In addition to our longstanding partnership with the Government of the Northwest Territories, Laurier researchers often partner directly with local communities. For instance, we are partners in an aquatic ecosystem monitoring program being set up by the Tłįchǫ Government.
A important part of Laurier's northern research program is training future researchers and leaders in the North. To that end, we are engaging local students. In March 2017, 10 Dehcho high school students from Fort Simpson and Fort Providence participated in a field course in which they learned about ecohydrology and the impact of climate change from Laurier scientists and local elders.
Our researchers have also built a strong relationship with the community of Kakisa. This small community has become a focal point of several initiatives being driven by community questions about changing climate and conditions. Part of Laurier’s involvement in this community has been working with the school to plant gardens and learn more about some of the research being conducted in the community, including the impacts of recent forest fire activity.
There are plans to run more field courses in the future, in multiple locations in the Northwest Territories. The next is planned for February 2018 at Hoarfrost River Homestead on Great Slave Lake, and will involve local high school and Laurier undergraduate students.
On-the-land camps are important activities that support youth in building skills and strengthen relationships to the land. Laurier researchers have taken part in numerous camps, either as guest presenters or by helping to facilitate these camps in partnerships with communities, other researchers and organizations. The camps blend together science-related activities, including mapping, fish health, and fire ecology, with traditional knowledge activities taught by elders and other knowledge holders.
Ledge Talks is a forum for a variety of speakers to present current ideas, science, traditional knowledge, and issues relevant to the Northwest Territories (NWT) and beyond. Laurier researchers often use this forum to communicate research results and initiatives directly to the community. These presentations are recorded and kept on the Legislative Assembly of the NWT's YouTube Channel.
Laurier's northern researchers occasionally give public talks about the research they do in the North. They also invite colleagues from other institutions, including northern First Nations, to give guest lectures and have held panel discussions and symposia open to the public. Events are announced on the Cold Regions Research Centre website as well as on Laurier's Northern Research webpage.
Andrew Spring, Research Associate, Northern Canada Knowledge Networks
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