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Big Land, big plans

By Paula Dyke

Memorial University's Labrador Institute received significant funding from both the federal and provincial governments during Expo Labrador 2012 to increase research and development capacity in Labrador. As a result, the Labrador Institute will have access to more than $4.4 million earmarked to increase the university's footprint in Labrador.

Dr. Gary Kachanoski, president and vice-chancellor, joined Peter Penashue, federal minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, and Nick McGrath, provincial minister for Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, to make the announcement.

"Our university was built on the premise that it would be a driving force behind the economic, social and cultural development of the province – the entire province," said Dr. Kachanoski. "And while there have been significant academic and applied research activities in Labrador in recent years, there is much more we should be doing and will be doing, and this investment helps us achieve that goal. When universities and governments work together with a clear, dedicated vision, much can be accomplished."

The Government of Canada is investing $2.1 million through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency's Innovative Communities Fund, and the province is investing $524,386 through the Department of Industry, Business and Rural Development. Additionally, an incremental investment of $1.8 million over three years has been committed by Memorial. With this funding, the Labrador Institute will add four new faculty members, representing arts, education, science and the Marine Institute. One of these, Dr. Marie Clement, an aquatic ecologist, started just last week.

"Clearly, the size and scope of the Labrador Institute will increase remarkably in the near future. With this additional funding, and building on existing strengths, activities and accomplishments of the Labrador Institute, we will have a stronger presence and engage communities more effectively," noted Dr. Kachanoski. "The result will be the building of regional and northern research capacity and support for partnerships with communities, Aboriginal groups and industry."

The funding will also allow for the establishment of four new research associate positions, with each faculty member expected to have four to five graduate students. In addition to applied research programs, field schools, some second-year university courses and graduate level training are also planned.

Expo Labrador 2012 is the region's primary event attracting about 500 delegates while showcasing accomplishments and activity in Labrador. As a proud sponsor, Memorial was heavily involved in all aspects of Expo Labrador 2012 with delegates attending the sessions, hosting a booth in the trade show and a reception for alumni and friends. In addition, Dr. Keith Storey, professor, Department of Geography, presented on Developing Effective HR and Supplier Development Strategies with Big Projects, Local Benefits: Making It Work, which addressed issues concerning attraction of Newfoundland and Labrador workers currently travelling to work in Alberta and maximizing local business benefits.