By Jeff Green
Researchers studying a myriad of issues in Labrador will soon have a new home base.
Memorial is establishing a new research facility in North West River, thanks to roughly $1.8 million in federal funding announced by Ottawa under its Arctic Research Infrastructure Fund.
The money will allow the university’s Labrador Institute, which is located in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, to renovate the nearby North West River Learning Centre, which serves a diverse aboriginal and northern population in central Labrador.
The institute partnered with the Nunatsiavut government to apply for the funding.
In total, close to $2.5 million was awarded for the two Labrador projects.
The Nunatsiavut government received $700,000 to renovate facilities in Nain to create a Nunatsiavut government research centre.
Memorial will use its portion of the funding to refurbish and update the existing building in North West River to become the hub for research in Labrador, supporting local research activities and providing logistical services to satellite facilities in other communities throughout the region.
“Memorial researchers are very active in the region, but we really lack space for them to work, which in turn acts as a hindrance to additional research that may occur,” said Dr. Keith Chaulk, director of the Labrador Institute. “This initiative will address this concern.
“We see this new facility as a truly multi-disciplinary research one”, he added. Likely most of the research will be done in the areas of ecology, archaeology, anthropology, geography, linguistics and health. Within these areas, most of the focus will be on northern and aboriginal research. We also hope that the facility will lead to local training and capacity building, possibly a field school during the summer.”
The funding will allow the institute to create new laboratories, office space, storage areas and some accommodations for researchers. Major work will also be done to the exterior of the building.
Tenders will be called this summer and the project should take about two years to complete.
Memorial University is committed to supporting research and education opportunities in Labrador and partnering with aboriginal groups, as indicated in the university’s strategic plan (2007-2012). The university plays a role in the development of the province and remains committed to its cultural, social and economic needs.
That work is facilitated, in part, by the university’s specialized centres including the Labrador Institute which co-ordinates and supports research in region.
In total, 20 infrastructure projects have been selected by the federal government under the $85 million Arctic Research Infrastructure Fund.