P20: Is Canada able to meet its needs for research and innovation on northern issues, given that it does not have graduate programs situated in the three Canadian territories?

Friday, November 22, 2013 - 10:30am to 12:00pm
Government of Yukon

This panel will explore the northern dimensions of the development of highly qualified personnel, or HQP. HQP are widely accepted to be essential to the transformation of knowledge into societal and economic benefits as well as the development of innovative products and services for the global marketplace. With Canada’s Northern Strategy, Chairmanship of the Arctic Council, and recent announcement of plans to establish a new Canadian High Arctic Research Station, the development of HQP with northern expertise has become an issue of national significance.

Canada’s North is a vast expanse, with an abundance of natural and cultural resources. Canada’s North is also undergoing significant change due to increased interest in northern resource development, climate change, global change, and changes in northern governance. In addition, recent scientific advances demonstrate the global implications of changes in the northern environment and highlight the need for a national conversation on how to approach the development of northern HQP.

A highly qualified labour force that can address the unique and significant policy challenges facing this region is required. While per capita, Canada’s territories produce the fewest post-secondary graduates in the country due to a lack of available programs situated in these regions, there is a strong and growing emphasis on northern graduate programs in southern institutions and in postsecondary institutions located in the Northern Provinces.

Among the varied and complex dimensions of the development and training of HQP in, on and/or for the North, this panel will explore: labour force needs for HQP in northern issues; the success of current models for developing HQP with a specialty in northern issues; characteristics of graduate programs that successfully train for high-level positions in northern issues; and the successes and challenges of recent graduates in finding positions in their field.

This panel brings together a diverse range of perspectives on this topic including representatives from:
• Northern Territorial Governments (Yukon and NWT)
• Northern Territorial Colleges (Yukon and Nunavut)
• Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS)
• Association of Canadian Universities for Northern Studies (ACUNS)
• ArcticNet Network of Centres of Excellence

Our panellists have a deep comprehension of the many dimensions of the need for, as well as the challenges and opportunities for the development of, HQP on northern issues. Our panellists are widely recognized as knowledgeable leaders in their field, and have been carefully selected to bring a diversity of perspectives to this discussion. We believe our panellists will set the stage for a lively exchange of ideas between the panel members and the audience.


Assistant Professor
Brock University

Dr. Kevin Turner is an Assistant Professor at Brock University and sits on the Board of Directors for the Association of Canadian Universities for Northern Studies (ACUNS). His research interests are focused on identifying drivers of hydrological change in northern freshwater landscapes. During his PhD, Kevin was awarded the W. Garfield Weston Foundation Northern Research Award and spent a great deal of time in Old Crow Flats, YK conducting research as well as participating in regular community meetings and workshops to engage local community members. Kevin was a co-Chair of the organizing team for Communities of Change: Building an IPY Legacy, the 9th ACUNS International Student Conference on Northern Studies and Polar Region, which was hosted by Yukon College in 2009.

Kevin will bring in the perspective of ACUNS, which aims to engage Canadians in thinking and dialogue about research and education in Canada’s north. For over thirty years ACUNS has successfully promoted the advancement of northern studies, notably through its scholarships programs, conferences and collaboration. ACUNS’s scholarship program has grown considerably in recent years, now providing over a million dollars in funding annually for undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral fellowships.

Senior Science Advisor
Government of Northwest Territories

Andrew Applejohn is the Senior Science Advisor to the Government of the Northwest Territories. He is responsible for developing overarching science policy and implementing the government’s research agenda, working both inside and outside the Northwest Territories to deliver research programs which support needs of the NWT. Mr. Applejohn has worked in post-secondary education, research administration, and natural resource management in Northern Ontario, and in all regions of the Northwest Territories. Mr. Applejohn has a wide range of experience in designing, and implementing and evaluating both field and community based research programs, as well as in the management of northern research infrastructure. As the a former director of the Aurora Research Institute, Mr. Applejohn played key roles in the delivery of research programs at many scales across northern Canada, ranging from local and traditional knowledge documentation to major international research drilling programs. Acting as a representative of Aurora College, the GNWT and as a resident of the western Arctic Mr. Applejohn participates in a number of committees and panels focused on various aspects of Northern Science

Andrew will speak to issues GNWT is facing in a post-devolution labour market and the realities of replacing HQP leaving the federal system.

Vice President of Research and Community Engagement and Interim VP
Yukon College, Research and Community Engagement

Chris is the Vice President of Research and Community Engagement and Interim VP Academic at Yukon College. Chris’ major responsibility is for Yukon College’s research initiatives that primarily focus on climate change adaptation and innovation and commercialization of cold climate technologies. Additionally he and his team are investigating the opportunity for the College to offer a post graduate credential in climate change. These initiatives all have the undelaying goal of building local (Yukon) capacity with Yukon partners. Prior to coming to Yukon College, Chris held the FRBC-Slocan Chair in Mixedwood Ecology and Management at UNBC where the focus was providing science to support new northern BC mixedwood forest policy.

The focus of Chris’ remarks will be on the role of territorial colleges in training HQP with northern expertise and the importance of growing local HQP to support local labour force needs and the need for northern capacity building. In his remarks, Chris will draw on experiences across the North. For example, he will discuss programs at University of Quebec-Abitibi, Temiscamingue and Yukon College that either offer (or are looking to offer) graduate credentials where there are no undergrad programs.

Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS)

Jennifer Provencher is a vice-president of Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS), and the current board chair of the Canadian National Chapter of APECS. Jennifer is currently a PhD candidate at Carleton University where she studies how multiple stressors (parasites and mercury) affect the health and reproduction of common eider ducks, an important harvest species in the Arctic region. Alongside Jennifer research she is the lead on a number of education and outreach initiatives, including APECS’s biennial Polar Week and the annual Marine Bird Dissection Workshop which is held in collaboration with the Nunavut Arctic College in Iqaluit. Through these her research and outreach efforts she works to create opportunities to better engage community members actively in research programs.
As a representative of APECS, the focus of Jennifer’s remarks will be to bring forth the perspective of early career scientists. Recent emphasis on training of graduate students with northern expertise, e.g. resulting from major funding for northern research initiatives such as IPY and ArcticNet, has succeeded in generating lots of HQP skilled in Arctic issues. However, many of these graduates are being exported because of a lack of jobs North of 60. Jennifer will also reflect on skills that early career scientists find they need to develop once they enter the workplace that they haven’t been able to learn at university. The current ability of traditional academic programs to teach HQPs the necessary "soft skills" for working in the north is where APECs finds its largest demand, such as how to undertake community consultations, how to integrate local knowledge into science research, how to interact with volunteers and community members as research helpers, how to navigate multi-level permit processes etc. Tied in with the above, but a slightly different perspective, is do tradition education programs that focus on written tests, comprehensive exams, attendance within a classroom, thesis driven research etc., actually meet the needs of developing HQPs in the north, or the needs of northern students.

ArcticNet Network of Centres of Excellence

Martin Fortier completed his Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography at Université Laval in 1999. From 1999 to 2003, he was the scientific coordinator of the International North Water Polynya Study (NOW) and of the Canadian Arctic Shelf Exchange Study (CASES) International Arctic Research Networks, involving more than 120 leading experts in Arctic science from 10 Canadian universities, 4 federal departments, and 9 foreign countries. In 2002, Dr. Fortier was heavily involved in the implementation of the refit and modification of the CCGS Amundsen into a state-of–the–art research icebreaker. Dr. Fortier has since served as chief scientist on 7 expeditions onboard the CCGS Amundsen, including its inaugural voyage in 2003. Dr. Fortier was appointed as Executive Director of the ArcticNet Network of Centres of Excellence (NCE) in the fall of 2003. As the world’s largest national Arctic research network, ArcticNet brings together over 1000 researchers, students and staff in the natural, human health and social sciences from 30 Canadian Universities with their partners in Inuit organizations, northern communities, government and industry to help Canadians face the impacts and opportunities of climate change and globalization in the Arctic. In 2012, Dr. Fortier led the development of the $1 million CAD Arctic Inspiration Prize together with the Prize’s founders at the S. and A. Inspiration Foundation. The Prize is awarded annually to recognize and promote the extraordinary contribution made by teams in the gathering of Arctic knowledge and their plans to implement this knowledge into real world applications for the benefit of the Canadian Arctic and its Peoples. Dr. Fortier serves as the Executive Director for the Prize. Dr. Fortier currently serves on numerous national and international boards and committees, including that of the Arctic Inspiration Prize, Canadian Research Icebreaker Amundsen, the Norwegian Arctic Frontiers Conference, the Northern Contaminant Program, the Canadian High Arctic Research Station and the Polar Continental Shelf Program, which he chairs. In November 2010, he was appointed as a member of the Board of Directors for the Canadian Polar Commission.

Martin’s remarks will focus on providing a picture of the current training of graduate students in southern university in Arctic related fields (using ArcticNet and associated programs as an example). Statistics on post-grad employment (government, industry, academia, south, north, Canada vs. foreign etc.) demonstrate that many of ArcticNet’s graduates stay in academia or work for government; there has been a very low uptake by industry. Martin will discuss the role and importance of southern universities in generating HQP with northern expertise, and will discuss how programs in the south may be adapted to meet needs for northern HQP.

Government of Yukon, Department of Education

In Yukon, Mr. Blais had numerous involvement developing strategies to improve the labour force with regards to immigration, retention, recruitment and training. From 2009 to 2011, he acted as the Public Service Coordinator for the Council of Yukon First Nations. Since 2011, he is coordinating as a labour market development officer the implementation of the Yukon Labour Market Framework. He served as a commissioner for the Yukon Human Rights Commission from 2009 to 2012. Jean-Sébastien graduated from Laval University’s Social Science Faculty with a Master’s Degree in Political Science. He is member of the Institute of Public Administration of Canada and of the Canadian International Council.

What are the labour force needs in the north? What populations do we need to reach re hiring? Are we currently developing HQP that meet these needs? Jean-Sebastien will present Yukon’s new labour market forecasting model. This model was developed to anticipate labour market demands and inform and support the development of advanced education and training strategies.

Coordinator of Development and Instructional Design of PASS Initiatives
Nunavut Arctic College

Lindsay was born and raised in Nunavut. She left Iqaluit to attend Lester B. Pearson College where she completed the International Baccalaureate diploma. After completing her undergraduate degree at Queen’s University as a Canadian Merit Scholarship Foundation Loran Scholar, she completed her Master’s degree in Indigenous Governance at the University of Victoria in 2010. She was the University Studies Coordinator at Nunavut Arctic College from 2010-2013.
Lindsay is joining the new Distance Education team at Nunavut Arctic College as the Coordinator of Development and Instructional Design of PASS Initiatives. ( Pathways to Adult Secondary School)

Are offering graduate programs in the North putting the cart before the horse? Lindsay will share the perspective from Nunavut regarding the limited undergraduate and graduate programs available in northern Canada. She will also discuss the partnerships that Nunavut Arctic College has with other institutions at the undergraduate level as well as future plans for partnerships at both the graduate and undergraduate level.

Senior Science Advisor
Yukon Government

Dr. Aynslie Ogden is Yukon Government’s Senior Science Advisor. Her office guides Yukon government on scientific matters by providing strategic direction and policy advice on corporate science interests. The office’s priorities include raising awareness of science initiatives and findings that support and advance Yukon government priorities, coordinating and identifying opportunities to access, apply and develop scientific knowledge, and building scientific capacity and literacy within the Yukon government and Yukon.