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Labrador lures Memorial's president

Dr. Gary Kachanoski and wife Teresa in Torngat Mountains National Park.

By Nora Daly

When Gary Kachanoski turned his attention to Labrador shortly after being named president of Memorial University, he was extremely impressed, not only with what he saw and heard, but at the depth of the university's engagement in the Big Land.

"Beyond its sheer size and untamed beauty, I was pleased to learn how very active the university is in communities throughout Labrador, spearheaded by our Labrador Institute," said Dr. Kachanoski. "I also realized the incredible potential Labrador offers. We've been active there for many years, promoting community development and conducting socio-economic research, but so much more can be done. That's why this year we doubled the budget of the Labrador Institute."

While there has been significant academic and applied research activities in Labrador in recent years, there is a certain disconnect between public perception of the university's presence in Labrador and the institution's actual involvement. As such, the university needs to do a better job of getting the message out, of telling people where Memorial is, and what it has done and is doing in Labrador.

Dr. Kachanoski cited as an example the university's recent focus on Aboriginal initiatives, following on the heels of its Aboriginal Task Force Report in 2010. A special adviser for Aboriginal affairs, Dr. Maura Hanrahan, has been appointed. Dr. Hanrahan works closely with faculty, Aboriginal groups and senior administration on matters relating to a university-wide cultural change toward Aboriginal students. As well, new Aboriginal scholarships have been created with up to four students receiving entrance scholarships valued at $1,000 each.

"I am awed by the possibilities and promise Labrador offers," said Dr. Kachanoski. "Our university, with its experienced and dedicated academics and researchers, has a lot to offer the people of Labrador, and can play a huge role in community and regional socio-economic development.

"As part of our Engagement Framework, we are talking to people province-wide. We are asking the community to think about what they need, and what they need from us.

"Memorial is Labrador's university. There is so much we can be doing, should be doing and will be doing to increase our footprint in Labrador. By doing so, we live up to our obligation as a truly provincial university, helping make life better for all people living in Labrador and on the island."