Spring 2011

Spring has almost sprung in the Big Land. The snow is melting and the smell of spring is in the air. Here at the LI, we’ve been busy with current projects, beginning new projects, and trying to get some more off of the ground!

It’s been a long road, but the LI’s North West River Research Centre is almost finished. With some hard work on the part of the LI and the provincial Department of Transportation and Works, there is a grand opening in the near future! Thanks to partnerships between MUN and some governmental agencies, the Centre will now be able to offer substantial research assistance to people studying in Labrador. A wet/dry laboratory, meeting space, office space, and residence space means that various research needs can now be met here in Labrador. The LI has also been able to acquire various pieces of field equipment that will be an asset to researchers who are interested in studying the land here. We’re all very excited and cannot wait for the grand opening. Stay tuned for dates!

Keeping within the theme of research, Mark, Martha, and Jenn have just finished Phase I of a pan-Labrador research seminar series called “Introduction to Community Research.” Visiting communities from Forteau to Nain, the LI – with assistance from SSHRC – was able to present to community organizations and individuals on the basics of research: what is how, how we conduct, how communities/individuals can conduct it, and how to determine what one’s research needs are. This was a successful workshop series and the LI got to make great connections in each community. We hope to do a few more of these in the near future, so stay tuned for more details, or contact Jenn by clicking here.

An upcoming research project the LI will be involved with has been funded through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. This project is a multidisciplinary partnership with the School of Social Work, MUNmed, Community Health and Humanities, and Labrador-Grenfell Health. The funding will be used to consult with community partners about research that will examine risk factors related suicide, local knowledge about mental health and healing, and strategies for suicide prevention. This planning grant will build the foundation for a long-term, community-based research program on suicide prevention in Labrador. Letters of support for this application were provided by project partners including the Nunatsiavut Government’s Department of Health and Social Development, the Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation and the Mushuau Innu First Nation.

Martha and Jennifer have finally finished their work on Very Rough Country.
"Before there was industry, land claims, or mass settlement in Labrador, there was Very Rough Country. Martha MacDonald has brought together a collection of maps, photos, stories, and essays that merge the academic with the traditional; the explorer with the native; and the past with the present.  This collection, the Labrador Exploration Symposium Proceedings, is an introduction to Labrador history, culture and exploration; it is a complement to the academic literature that currently exists about Labrador, and, it is an informative, exciting and emotional adventure that take the reader through the Labrador wilderness. Very Rough Country revists the great adventures of outside explorers and provides a venue through which Labradorians have told their unwritten stories of the land and the eternal attraction of the unknown."
Very Rough Country is now available! Contact Martha MacDonald for more details: (709) 896-6213 or martha.macdonald@mun.ca

Karen is working hard in Labrador West and the Labrador Institute library catalogue is continuing to be updated to include material that was not previously catalogued. This will improve the ability of researchers to find the materials they are looking for. As well, a new and improved catalogue system is coming our way soon! Details will follow at a later date.

Mark is also clueing up some important work. In January 2010, Mark joined the LI team to lead the digitization of the LI’s film and video collection. It has been a lot of work, but Mark is finally on the home stretch. With only disc writing and label printing left to go, we’re sad to say Mark will be leaving us in early June. It has been a lot of work, but Mark should be proud of what he’s accomplished. The LI won’t be the same after he’s gone! We wish him the best of luck in whatever he does next.

Another person will soon be leaving the LI, too. Dr. Johanna Wolf joined the LI in April 2010 as a Post-doctoral Fellow studying climate change in the communities of St. Lewis and Rigolet. Johanna has worked very hard over the last year and her research is nearly complete. Johanna and her family will be leaving Labrador in May to return to beautiful British Columbia. We are certain Johanna’s research will have important outcomes for Labrador and Labradorians, and we’re sure her work will be used by researchers to come. The LI team is sad to see her go, but we’re sure she will continue to do meaningful work wherever her research and career takes her.

While the end of spring marks the end of many projects, it also marks the beginning of summer. Summer is usually the time when the LI begins its intersession course offerings and this year will be the best yet! Dr. Doug Wharram will be returning to teach Inuttitut I and II in May and June, and Jennifer Butler and Dr. John Thistle will be offering courses in July and August. The Nunatsiavut Social Work program will be in full swing and students will be taking Doug’s classes, as well as Soci/Anth 2200: Communities (being taught by Jenn) and Geog 1050: Introduction to the Principles and Practice of Geography (being taught by John). Once the intersession semester is completed, the students will begin their first placement!

The Labrador Institute is pleased announce that Dr. Rachel Hirsch has been awarded the 2011-12 LI Postdoctoral Fellowship in June 2011.  Dr. Hirsch holds a PhD (Geography) from the University of Western Ontario and is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University. Her research areas of interest include Arctic food insecurity, health and environmental governance, community resiliency, and knowledge sharing. In her work she is also concerned about issues of ethics and cooperation so that engagement with the public on policy issues can be made as transparent and equitable as possible. Dr. Hirsch will be co-supervised by Dr. Trevor Bell (Geography, Memorial) and Dr. Chris Furgal (Indigenous Environmental Studies, Trent University). Her research will be conducted through the Labrador Institute, and it is funded by the Faculty of Arts, the Labrador Institute, and Drs. Bell and Furgal. Dr. Hirsch hopes to reside in Nain where she will work closely with Tom Sheldon (Nunatsiavut Government) for the duration of her fellowship. She will also be teaching a course for the Labrador Institute. Dr. Hirsch's postdoctoral research is entitled "Sharing research findings in Nunavut and Nunatsiavut: Assessing the integration of community-based knowledge in policy communications about climate change related food insecurity." The main goal of her postdoctoral research is to determine how community-level indigenous knowledge is being integrated into local, territorial, and national climate change adaptation policy decisions about country food access insecurities in the Canadian Arctic.

In the meantime, the LI is currently holding a film screening series called “Labrador/ians on Film.” Labrador/ians on Film” is a monthly screening series devoted to exhibiting historical and present day film about Labrador and its people.