Ocean Literacy Conference – Vancouver 2015

I often find it difficult to separate my research efforts from my outreach efforts. Fortunately for me, working in the Arctic means I don’t have to. Doing science outreach is not only expected, but required from northern researchers. In fact it is mandated in many ways, and often getting the needed permits for your research requires you to state your outreach plans and efforts.

As a part of my teams research and outreach efforts since 2008 has been the annual workshop at the Nunavut Arctic College. It has morphed over time from focusing on marine birds, to wildlife and health, and now to an environmental contaminants workshop, all to keep it funded and alive. With eight years of the workshop under our belts I will be presenting some of our success and challenges with the workshop at the upcoming Ocean Literacy Conference happening in Vancouver on June 17, 2015.

Provencher NAC presentation

The workshop started under International Polar Year (2007-2008) as part of the marine bird research project lead by Tony Gaston and Bill Montevecchi. After IPY ended we went on to be funded by the Nasivvik Centre for Inuit Health and Changing Environments which led us to put more emphasis on the links between the wildlife and human health components. Since 2014 we have been funded by the Northern Contaminants Program (NCP), and have again refocused, this time with the emphasis on the contaminants part of the work.

Importantly, with the support of NCP we have been able to involve other researchers in the program, making the workshop an annual platform for NCP researchers to engage with students interested in contaminants and likely to go on to positions that are both likely to lead to them being science ambassadors and decision makers in their communities. Last year we added caribou dissections to the workshop. A local hunter from Iqaluit joined us to talk about traditional ecological knowledge about hunting caribou and contaminants in the environment. This coming year we are including some seal dissections with Environment Canada’s Derek Muir.

Taking part in the conference I hope to share what we learned, and also learn from others what is working with their ocean outreach projects. This is especially true of the theme Ocean literacy. I hope that I can learn more the ocean literacy concept and framework, and bring to the workshop this coming year in Iqaluit.

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