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Harris goes north

Nunatsiavut First Minister Tony Andersen speaks at the Harris Centre workshop in Nain while Harris Centre Director Dr. Rob Greenwood listens.

By David Sorensen

The Harris Centre brought its Regional Workshop to Labrador last week.

Memorial’s outreach unit was in Nain for one of its four annual Regional Workshops and a Memorial Presents session. It was the first time the Harris Centre held a workshop in Nunatsiavut since that government was formed in 2005 and Harris Centre Director Dr. Rob Greenwood said it speaks to the centre’s mandate of connecting with all areas of the province.

“Lots of researchers and staff already have great connections all over the province,” he said. “We want to build on these and extend them wider and deeper throughout MUN. The community, MUN and the province all benefit.”

Still, it was not without its challenges. The group from Memorial had their trip extended by one day when weather kept planes into Nain grounded.

“Partnering with the Nunatsiavut Government in a regional workshop in Nain was our most challenging workshop to date, in terms of travel logistics, but probably our most rewarding,” Dr. Greenwood said. “When we have a group of MUN faculty and staff spend a couple of days meeting with community leaders and residents, networking and learning about their area first-hand, you identify new opportunities for collaboration but, more importantly, you build relationships.”

Dr. Greenwood said the workshop was well received in Nain and the partnership with the Nunatsiavut Government should benefit all involved.

“We had excellent participation from MUN and excellent participation from the Nunatsiavut Government and the community, despite weather preventing some folks from making it,” he said. “We shared information on over 60 current MUN projects in the region and we identified a bunch of opportunities for further collaboration.”

Dr. Greenwood said the Harris Centre will produce a report listing all the potential new opportunities and then work with the community and university researchers to see which ones it can make happen.

“We also have strengthened Memorial’s ties with this beautiful region, which faces some big challenges, but which has enormous opportunities.”

Some 15 Memorial faculty and staff travelled to Nain to take part in the workshop. One was LeAnne Petherick of the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation.

She said the Harris Centre’s Regional Workshop’s focus on the interrelationship between research, education and outreach appealed to her interest in applied health and community development.

“In particular, the Regional Workshop with the Nunatsiavut Government became an unique opportunity to learn about key policy, development, and community issues identified by key stakeholders, Nunatsiavut government, and community members in a community setting,” she added.

Memorial Presents sessions are part of every Regional Workshop. The sessions are public discussions on a topic of interest to the region or community in which they are held. In Nain, the topic was tourism. With a brand new national park right next door – Torngat Mountains – the people of Nunatsiavut are keen to develop the potential business opportunities it presents.

At the public session, Dr. Edward Addo of the tourism program at Grenfell College gave a detailed presentation of the components of a successful tourism enterprise. He was joined by Judy Rowell of Parks Canada and Derek Kowalchuk of Torngsok Cultural Centre in Nain.

While in Nain, Dr. Greenwood switched hats for a presentation on Memorial’s research plan. The university was on the road throughout April holding public consultation meetings across the province asking residents to help identify research opportunities of strategic importance to the province.

Dr. Greenwood has been assigned as lead for the development of the Memorial Research Plan.