For a University whose campuses are clustered around the 53rd parallel, September is a time to experience the sunburst energy of students unconstrained by classrooms, the bright but evanescent yellow of nearby valleys, and maybe the first bracing forecasts of snow – possibly all of them at once. September is a time for deep breaths, a different pace, routines, and new things.
At UAlberta North, the change in seasons brings particular reminders of the relationships we’ve built and the broad mandate we have. In recent days we’ve welcomed students back from community placements with Engage North and from summer field opportunities we’ve helped to fund. We’ve heard success stories from professors whose research we’ve supported – on everything from cube-satellites to caribou to community-based digital connectivity. We’ve welcomed a new Cameron Visiting Professor in Northern/Circumpolar Research, Dr. Stephanie Ewing from Montana State University, who will spend the fall term working with the permafrost research lab in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. In support of the School of Public Health and its northern/Indigenous initiatives, we’ve hosted a special lunch for its newly appointed northern adjunct professors, elders in residence, and students.
At the same time, we’ve represented the University in settings like the UArctic Congress in Finland. We’re looking ahead to a new season of public events, including Conversations North, featuring noon-hour talks by University researchers across fields. We’re preparing to help host the triennial National Student Conference for the Association of Canadian Universities for Northern Studies in November.
We’re talking to northern partners about potential research and educational collaborations. We’ll continue to nudge professors and students northward. We’ll continue to build a University of Alberta presence in places like Yellowknife and Whitehorse, where the Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences offers a BSc together with Yukon College.
UAlberta North is neither a research institute nor a campus. We are a connector, a catalyst, a facilitator. My own objective as Director has been to renew for the next generation a deep and enduring ‘north-facing’ identity for our University, located at the 53rd parallel, and to do so in the right way – respectful of northerners, their knowledge and their aspirations, and particularly of Indigenous peoples who have made northern places home for a long time. It’s a privilege to do this work on behalf of the University, and to do it with the trust and encouragement of our senior leadership.
About Roger Epp
Roger Epp was appointed the first Director of UAlberta North in 2015. A professor of political science, he has served the University in a number of leadership positions, including founding Dean of the Augustana Campus in Camrose and then Deputy Provost. He is author of We Are All Treaty People: Prairie Essays (2008) and Only Leave a Trace: Meditations (2017), and contributing co-editor of several volumes, including Writing Off the Rural West (2001). He has explored what it means to live, write, and teach with a sense of memory and care, on Treaty 6 land where several generations of his family have lived. He was an invited honorary witness at hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.