Humber region connects at the Harris Centre workshop
Participants network during a break at the Harris Centre-organized Humber Region Regional Workshop held in Corner Brook last week. About 70 participants explored possible partnerships and regional needs. Photo by Bojan Fürst
By Rebecca Cohoe
Despite a snowstorm that shut down the city, more than 60 Memorial and community participants put on their boots and headed to the Pepsi Centre to join in the Harris Centre’s recent regional workshop in Corner Brook.
Designed to encourage collaboration between Memorial and the regions of the province, regional workshops are an opportunity for Memorial researchers to share their work with the areas it may impact and for community members to offer input and ideas about future projects.
Planned in collaboration with the Humber Economic Development Board, the City of Corner Brook, Grenfell Campus, the Rural Secretariat, and the Model Forest of Newfoundland and Labrador, the workshop centered on four locally-relevant thematic areas, including culture, heritage and tourism, transportation and infrastructure, agriculture and food security, and healthy communities.
The day-long session was broken up into two parts: in the morning, the participants from Memorial shared their research with sector-specific breakout groups.
According to Bojan Fürst, manager of Knowledge Mobilization at the Harris Centre, it was a pleasant surprise for many of the community partners.
“When it comes to research, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel,” he said. “In many cases, Memorial research has already been conducted, and is as close as a phone call or search on Yaffle.”
The afternoon session was dedicated to uncovering potential future projects and collaborations between Memorial and the region. There were many suggestions, covering all four thematic areas.
For example, Cox’s Cove Mayor Tony Oxford was interested in partnering with Memorial to learn more about the history of resettlement in his community, with the aim of using the information to create a new tourism attraction.
Dr. Les Clark, an honorary research professor at Grenfell Campus, wondered about the possibility of creating a Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for healthy aging, a timely suggestion as the provincial population’s age continues to increase.
Gordon Hancock, of the Humber Economic Development Board, Katie Temple, of the Environmental Policy Unit at Grenfell, and Carolyn Wheeler, of the Western Environment Centre, came up with the idea of creating a partnership to encourage and support community gardening in the Humber Region.
The group would contribute to the food security of the region by providing information on local growing conditions and helping to develop regional capacity and expertise.
According to Mr. Fürst, one of the most positive results of the afternoon sessions was the decision by two of the four groups, both culture, heritage and tourism, and agriculture and food security, to continue their collaboration after the workshop.
As Mr. Fürst explained: “Many of these individuals are working in the same subject area, but haven’t had much opportunity to interact. By putting them together at a regional workshop, we hope to create relationships that will last far beyond the workshop itself.”
Learn more about the Harris Centre’s regional workshops by visiting their website at www.mun.ca/harriscentre.