The Arctic at your feet

Nov 12th, 2015

Janet Harron

The Arctic at your feet

Geography is all over the map. The Arctic Alive giant floor map that is.

Throughout Geography Awareness Week (Nov. 16 – 22), Memorial’s Department of Geography will be partnering with local organizations to profile the diversity of research being undertaken by faculty members and graduate students in communities and regions throughout the Canadian Arctic, as well as to promote geographical knowledge of the Canadian Arctic to the public. 

The Arctic Alive giant floor map measures eight by 11 metres and is designed to give participants a chance to “walk” across Canada’s Arctic and challenge their perceptions about the North in regards to what defines the Arctic. For example, students will learn what defines the Arctic, how Arctic society is different from southern societies, why the Arctic is more sensitive to climate change, etc. The map extends from the northern regions of the Arctic archipelago, down to areas such as southern James Bay. About 20 terrestrial and aquatic ecozones are represented on the giant floor map, demarcated by specific colours.  The goal is to show the North as a land of diversity and colour, rather than a land of bleak whites and greys dominated by snow and ice. 

The map was created by Canadian Geographic Education and the Canadian Museum of Nature and a copy was made for and transported to this province by Subsea 7, one of the world’s leading global contractors in seabed-to-surface engineering, constructions and services to the offshore industry. It is available for loan to schools around the province.

"We are using the Arctic Alive giant floor map to raise awareness about the geography of the Canadian Arctic and to highlight where geographers at Memorial University do their research in the North. Our Arctic research begins in our own backyard and stretches from Baffin Bay to the Beaufort Sea and beyond,”said Dr. Trevor Bell of the geography department. “Whether sea ice or glacier ice, cold oceans or frozen ground, tundra or taiga, housing or health, communities or caribou, MUN geographers study a broad range of issues across the North. We are literally all over the map!"

The map will be on displayed by students throughout the week starting with the official launch of Geography Awareness Week at the DF Cook Recital Hall (Nov. 16, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.). Other venues will include: The Rooms (Nov. 18, 7 to 9 p.m.), the Manuels River Hibernia Interpretation Centre (Nov. 20, 12 to 4 p.m.), the Johnson Geo Centre (9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.), and Memorial University Field House (Nov. 22, 1 p.m., intermission of Sea Hawks basketball game).

An Arctic passport will guide visitors at the DF Cook Recital Hall and The Rooms to researchers positioned at their respective locations on the map. These researchers, mostly geography graduate student, will explain their research projects and partnerships with Arctic communities and organizations. The Manuels River Hibernia Interpretation Centre will offer a variety of activities for all ages and the Geo Centre will stage a scavenger hunt on the map.

Geography Awareness Week is supported by the Vice President (Academic’s) Fund for Scholarship in the Arts and by the Office of Public Engagement.