Conversations North Archive

2019 Talks

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March 12 - Northern SPIRIT: Research and Training for Northern space program in partnership with Aurora and Yukon colleges
Dr. Ian Mann (Associate Professor, Department of Physics) and Callie Lissinna (Department of Mechanical Engineering)

In May 2017, the University of Alberta made aerospace history with the launch of the first ever made-in-Alberta satellite designed, built, and tested by students and faculty. Its mission was a voyage of scientific discovery to examine one of the least explored regions of near-Earth space. The next mission, Ex-Alta 2, is now in development within the Northern Space Program for Innovative Research and Integrated Training (Northern SPIRIT) consortium comprising a partnership with Aurora College (NWT) and Yukon College (Yukon) within the CSA funded Canadian CubeSat Program (CCP). Join us to see the results, and hear the latest news and developments, from the most recent chapter in the story of UAlberta's Space Exploration.


February 13th - Yukon Travel Narratives and the Politics of Mass Mountaineering for Canada's Centennial in 1967

Dr. PealAnn Reichwein - Associate Professor, Department of Kinesology,Sport and Recreation

Dr. PearlAnn Reichwein explores travel narratives and commemoration in the politics of ascent during the 1967 Yukon Alpine Centennial Expedition. Organized by the Alpine Club of Canada, 300 mountaineers mobilized and tackled climbs in the St. Elias Mountains. The mass expedition left an imprint on maps, place names, and memories of Kluane as well as mountain sport, parks, and tourism.

February 6th - Indigenous Youth Hybrid Knowledge in the Canadian Western Arctic

Dr. Ken Caine - Associate Professor, Department of Sociology

In many Northern Indigenous communities, leaders responsible for addressing complex environmental issues often look to educated youth and the knowledge they bring while also drawing on Indigenous knowledge. In this presentation Dr Caine will reflect on findings from ongoing research with Indigenous youth in the Sahtu region of the Northwest Territories. He explores the idea of hybrid knowledge as an in-between space and blurred distinction between Dene knowledge and western science, which provides new opportunities for engagement as well as tension arising from entangled worldviews

2018 Talks

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December 5th - Our amazing shrinking planet: Eighteen years of earth systems research in and out of the north

Stephanie Ewing, Montana State University - Cameron Visiting Professorship in Northern/Circumpolar Research University of Alberta

In the digital age, even the remotest parts of our planet seem close at hand, while profound mysteries still reside beneath our feet. In this talk, I reflect on my research path as a series of personal revelations about key processes and connections in the natural world: the way soils move in the Mojave Desert and on hillslopes in central Alaska, the accumulation of atmospheric salts over two million years on stable landforms in northern Chile, the transport of dust across the Pacific Ocean, the geochemical link between hundred-thousand-year-old permafrost and water in the Yukon River.


October 24th - Climate change and Inuit health

Sherilee Harper - Associate Professor. School of Public Health

Climate change presents one of the biggest health threats of the 21st century. The Arctic has experienced the most dramatic climate changes globally, and Inuit are already experiencing and responding to climate change impacts on human health. This presentation will outline the how climate change has impacted Inuit health, as well as how Inuit are responding and adapting.

October 17th - Syilx-led reintroduction of Okanagan sockeye salmon

Noreen Willows - Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural, Food & Nutrition Sciences

The Columbia River Treaty and habitat impacts in the Okanagan basin made it impossible for salmon fish passage, while deeply impacting Syilx cultural and food systems. Years of hard work and political advocacy have seen the Okanagan Nation Alliance working with provincial, federal and US Tribes and agencies to rebuild the sockeye salmon run from 3000 up to 500,000 salmon returning annually. Dr Willows talk will describe the actions Okanagan Nation Alliance is taking to bring back this important food species, and the research that is being done to evaluate the health and cultural outcome of this Syilx-led food sovereignty initiative.


September 18th - Visions of Vitality: Indigenous Language Resilience in the North

Jordan Lachler - Assistant Professor, Department of Linguistics

Media reports on language loss and revitalization often fixate on census counts of the number of remaining fluent speakers, using these easily-grasped figures to highlight the crisis of Indigenous language loss. Relying on this type of quantitative data can give a very distorted picture of the vitality of a language. There are numerous social, political and economic factors that are much more important than speaker numbers in understanding both the current state and future prospects of a language. Dr Lachler will talk about Indigenous language vitality in the North, and how his team is working to equip community language activists with the tools needed to make informed language planning choices.


April 6th - Environmental Contamination by Heavy Metals in the North: Facts and Misconceptions

Bill Shotyk - Professor, Department of Renewable Resources

Understanding contamination in the North requires not only high quality analytical data for heavy metals in diverse environmental media (air, soil, water, plants, animals), but also greater knowledge of the chemical and mineralogical composition of our natural resources and industrial processes. Join us to hear Dr Bill Shotyk talk about his research findings that show there is no significant atmospheric contamination by heavy metals (Ag, Cd, Pb, Sb, Tl) today, and that contamination has been declining for decades.

April 13th - Wolf Mountains, National Parks and the North?

Claude Couture - Professor, Faculté Saint-Jean

Dr Couture's talk will be based on Karen Jones' book, Wolf Mountains - A History of Wolves along the Great Divide. Through the history of four national parks, two American and two Canadian, Wolf Mountains looks at competing national visions of the North American West. The talk will take Jones' study as a starting point of an exploration of issues concerning environment and anti-Americanism in relation to the study of the North.


March 2nd - A Path Less Travelled - One Lawyer's Experience doing Residential School Claims in the North

Dale Cunningham - Partner, Field Law

Please join Dale Cunningham, partner with Field Law in Edmonton, to hear him talk about some of his experiences with Residential School claims in the North. Dale will also provide an overview of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement and reflect upon Reconciliation going forward.

March 9th - Extending the reach of Rehabilitation Science into Arctic Criminal Courts

Priscilla Ferrazzi - Assistant Professor, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine

Join us to hear Dr Priscilla Ferrazzi talk about her upcoming SSHRC and Law Foundation of Ontario-funded Arctic research project exploring Inuit conceptions of rehabilitation in a criminal court context. The project aims to create knowledge to inform the therapeutic intervention for a potential future Wellness Court and related cross-sectoral initiatives in Nunavut..

March 23rd - An Indigenous Methodology for Coming to Know Milo Pimatisiwin

Cindy Gaudet - Assistant Professor, Faculté Saint-Jean

Dr Gaudet will share how her research with the Omushkego people provides insights into how emerging Indigenous methodologies are fundamentally grounded in an Indigenous epistemology that, for the purpose of this project, was found to be integral to youth and community wellbeing. Her research offers methodological contributions in an effort to come to know through the "visiting way", a methodology grounded in relationship, identity and land.

March 30th - Therapeutic worlding experiences: Relational places, feelings and the politics of well-being in Nunavut

Sean Roberston - Associate Professor, Faculty of Native Studies

The "therapeutic landscape" describes performative spaces involving (non)humans and other forces that are consequential to shifts in emotional wellbeing. Although self-determination is accepted as one force in mental restoration, scholars have ignored its broader materialization through ontological contestations. To better appreciate the political content of therapeutic landscapes, Dr Robertson argues that the difference of Inuit relationality manifests an Inuit world against one formed by global forces. Therapeutic worlding experiences are acts of self-determination that vitalize the emotional benefits of self-landscape encounters