I remember the first time I travelled to Nunavut – and I try to remember it often. I had no idea what to expect, and purposefully tried to prevent myself from creating any expectations.
All I knew was that I was incredibly lucky to be travelling to a territory within Canada that I had never given a whole lot of thought to in my first naïve 19 years of life. That first trip was the beginning of a new way of thinking about the world for me.
It might sound a bit dramatic, or romanticized, but if you have ever travelled North, or ever talked to anyone who has, then you know that the North grips you. Its landscapes grip your imagination. Its people grip your soul. Its quiet grips your conscience. Its beauty grips your heart. And rarely does it ever them let go.
That first opportunity came through my work doing science outreach to communities all across Canada. A few years later, when it was time to move on to the next adventure, I remember leaving Nunavut for what I thought at the time was the last trip I would ever make to the territory. I remember taking in the sights, the sounds, the smells, and trying to etch them deep into my memory.
Ironically, it was my experiences in northern places that had led me to quit my job, to apply to Trent’s Indigenous Environmental Studies program, and pick up my life and move it to Peterborough. I had a heavy heart as I handed in my letter of resignation. Yes because I would miss the job, and the city I was leaving, but more so because I knew that without a job that paid me to travel North, I likely would not make my way there on my own anytime soon.
Little did I know, I was about to find out that my new home, Trent University, has a rich history, strong relationships, and an incredible commitment to the North.
As we don’t tend to promote ourselves as a northern research university, it just might be one of Trent’s best-kept secrets. For me, this secret started to reveal itself within my first few weeks here.
First there was the Temagami trip – an annual on the land Trent event in Northern Ontario that has been taking place every year for over 40 years. Then I had guest lecture from a professor doing climate change adaptation research with Inuit communities, and an ecology professor who relayed most of his teaching examples from his northern caribou research.
As I ventured deeper down the arctic hare hole, I found that there were faculty, postdocs, and graduate students at Trent studying everything from carbon emissions in tundra ponds to socio-cultural sustainability in all regions of Canada’s north.
Today, I consider myself so lucky to be working at Trent within a research group that has built a strong and long-lasting partnership with the Inuit communities we work with.
Our group is only one of many focusing on northern issues, and if the North appeals to you in any way, I would strongly encourage you to look into the courses, and undergraduate and graduate research opportunities that exist here.
If you pay attention, you will see northern traces all over Trent: photo displays, scientific posters, and talks with Inuit Elders who visit the Indigenous Studies department every couple of years.
If you feel like you have been missing these signs, but are interested in learning more about the North, northern research, and the northern work taking place out of Trent, don’t fret.
This year’s Northern Studies Colloquium is thankfully just around the corner. Whatever your interest in the North, you are invited to come learn, share, and discuss Northern history, ecology, politics, and culture. Hope to see you there.
Trent Northern Studies Colloquium takes place on March 12, 2015.
9am – 4pm – Gzowski College, Benedict Gathering Space: Student Presentations with catering by Sticklings Bakery. 7pm-9pm – Canadian Canoe Museum: Keynote speaker is Dr. Ian Mauro with local catering by Curve Lake’s Gary Williams
Both events open to all, and free of charge.For more information please visit www.northernstudiescolloquium.com or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.