UVic ocean-science project widens to Nunavut

University of Victoria-based Ocean Networks Canada is using a $247,000 grant to expand its community-engagement efforts into Nunavut.

Research efforts will be driven by community needs, said Maia Hoeberechts, who is leading the project.

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“We have the intention, with all of our projects, of doing scientific work in ways that are meaningful to the communities we work with.” Hoeberechts said. “But what really excites me about this one is that it’s the first time we’ve been funded exclusively to work with the communities, with the option to develop a follow-up research proposal with them if there’s interest.”

Funding is coming from Polar Knowledge Canada to support ONC, which operates a network of undersea observatories, as well as interconnected stations that have been collecting data from the area of Nunavut under study for the past five years.

Efforts will be in the communities of Kugluktuk and Gjoa Haven, and will focus on sea-ice processes. The work is vital for understanding climate change in the Arctic, the ONC said.

The ONC said the state of sea ice because of climate change is “a global concern,” adding that there is a possibility of the Arctic Ocean being ice-free by 2030.

As part of the project, ONC staff will be interviewing youth, hunters, indigenous elders and non-Inuits, and reviving youth programs previously conducted in the area. Young people will be encouraged to make their own observations of the ocean, analyze ONC data and confer with elders.

Plans also call for training college students from the region in ONC instrumentation.


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