News Release

REF NO.: 50

SUBJECT: Memorial University researcher claims prestigious Arctic Inspiration Prize

DATE: December 9, 2016

For the second time in three years, Dr. Trevor Bell has been honoured with the coveted Arctic Inspiration Prize (AIP), becoming the only person from Memorial University to receive the accolade twice.

Dr. Bell, a noted field scientist and geographer, is one of three recipients of this year’s AIP who will share the $1.5-million national honour often known as the Nobel Prize of the North.

The prize recognizes research and projects that translate knowledge into action for the benefit of the people of the Canadian Arctic.

“Dr. Trevor Bell has distinguished himself as a respected researcher whose work is having real impact on those living and working in Canada’s North,” said Dr. Gary Kachanoski, president and vice-chancellor, Memorial University. “Dr. Bell’s pioneering research has bolstered Memorial’s international reputation for excellence in Arctic and Northern regions research. His vision and commitment to creating positive change for Arctic communities is truly inspiring. I offer Dr. Bell my congratulations and wish him much success as he takes his project to the next level.”

Dr. Bell, University Research Professor in the Department of Geography, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and a Memorial alumnus, and his team were honoured for their innovative project known as SmartICE (Sea-Ice Monitoring and Real-Time Information for Coastal Environments). SmartICE is a sea-ice monitoring system developed with coastal communities. It combines traditional ice knowledge with the latest satellite imaging and ice-sensing technology, allowing community members to plan safe passage on sea ice.

Currently, SmartICE provides its service in two pilot communities — Nain, Nunatsiavut, and Pond Inlet, Nunavut — where, like many other places in the North, sea-ice is part of the winter highway — the travel route to country food and a fundamental part of culture and well-being. Sea-ice conditions, however, are becoming less predictable for travel due to climate warming, Dr. Bell says. There is also a growing expectation that winter shipping may disrupt traditional travel routes.

SmartICE has the potential to make a big impact on those living and working in the North.

“A key reason for us winning the Arctic Inspiration Prize is our plan to create a northern social enterprise for SmartICE, so that in partnership with communities we can expand the service across the Arctic,” said Dr. Bell. “It not only contributes to healthy communities, but also enables community economic development where sea-ice information is critical to business operations — for example, winter fisheries, coastal infrastructure — and reduces costs for community government services, such as sealift or emergency management.”

Dr. Bell says part of the reason SmartICE is inspiring and novel is that it integrates leading-edge technology with Inuit knowledge, youth training and social entrepreneurship.

“The SmartICE Inc. business model commits to maximizing social impact and creating positive community change, while reflecting Inuit societal values and applying an entrepreneurial approach to sea-ice information services,” Dr. Bell noted. “One example of our social innovation is the production of SmartICE technology by at-risk youth in Nunatsiavut, who in addition to traditional sea-ice knowledge, will learn technical skills to help reduce employment barriers.”

The prize-winning SmartICE team is truly diverse, bringing together experts from communities, industries, governments, non-governmental organizations and universities. Faculty, staff and students from across Memorial University are represented on the successful team, including the faculties of Humanities and Social Sciences; Business Administration; Engineering and Applied Science, as well as Enactus Memorial, the Centre for Social Enterprise, C-CORE, the Genesis Centre and local community partners Choices for Youth and Going Off, Growing Strong.

SmartICE, led by Dr. Bell, was one of eight projects shortlisted for this year’s fifth annual Arctic Inspiration Prize. He was nominated by Inuit business leaders Clint Davis, chair, Nunatsiavut Group of Companies, and Levi Barnabas, chair, Qikiqtaaluk Corporation.

In 2013 Dr. Bell was the principal research partner of SakKijânginnatuk Nunalik: The Sustainable Communities Initiative of the Nunatsiavut Government that was named one of three overall recipients of the Arctic Inspiration Prize. That project focused on providing healthy housing solutions for Nunatsiavut communities that addresses changing climate, infrastructure requirements and Inuit housing needs and preferences.

The 2016 Arctic Inspiration Prize was presented to Dr. Bell on Dec. 8 by the Rideau Hall Foundation in conjunction with ArcticNet’s annual scientific meeting, which took place Dec. 5-9 in Manitoba. ArcticNet is a Network of Centres of Excellence of Canada. Memorial is a member institution.


About Memorial University of Newfoundland

Located on the edge of the North Atlantic, Memorial University of Newfoundland is a community of more than 18,000 students from 90 countries and about 5,000 faculty and staff. Providing a comprehensive range of undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs, the university delivers a broad range of courses at four diverse campuses, complemented by extensive online offerings. Cold-ocean and Arctic-related study and partnership are areas of focus across many of Memorial's disciplines, from anthropology and biology to engineering and social work. Born of the university’s long-standing connection to the people and place it serves, this specialization is pursued actively as a member institution of the University of the Arctic‎, the transnational Ocean Frontier Institute and award-winning scholarship, pedagogy and public engagement activities.

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