Wilfrid Laurier University and the Government of the Northwest Territories signed a 10-year (2010-2020) Partnership Agreement in May, 2010.
The purpose of the Partnership is to provide new infrastructure and expertise to the GNWT for environmental research and education in order to expand the Territories’ capacity to conduct environmental research and monitoring, and to train the new expertise needed to manage its natural resources for future generations in face of emerging challenges from climate change and the impacts of growth and development.
The Laurier-GNWT Partnership is a step that will help ensure that the water of the NWT “remains clean, abundant and productive for all time”, as called for by the NWT Water Stewardship Strategy.
The GNWT and Wilfrid Laurier University share a $6.3 million grant from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) entitled the “Canadian Aquatic Laboratories for Interdisciplinary Boreal Ecosystem Research” (CALIBER), which serves as the infrastructure platform for the Partnership. GNWT and Laurier personnel also collaborate on numerous research and training initiatives.
Partners in Research & Problem Solving:
The key to better prediction of ecosystem responses to natural and human disturbance is improved process understanding. Process-based research is therefore a key component of environmental strategies and legislation (e.g.Water Stewardship Strategy and related strategies) designed to protect and sustain NWT’s communities, environment and natural resources. Partnership research is focussed on three major research themes: 1) Landscape Change, 2) Cumulative Effects; and 3) Thresholds. The research of each of these themes will be carried out in order to advance the following aspects of the NWT Water Stewardship Strategy:
- Advance the physically-based understanding of water and energy cycling as it affects the volume and timing of run-off within and from boreal regions.
- Improve the understanding of special causal linkages between landscape disturbances and resulting changes in hydrological and geochemical characteristics of northern aquatic systems.
- Generate knowledge clarify specific links between natural resource development and climate variability on the sustainability of boreal ecosystems.
- Develop and test comprehensive models that integrate the results of previous research into prediction tools for boreal ecosystems.
- Create a community of scientists and users that can become partners in discovery and development.
Partners in Training and Outreach:
The NWT Water Stewardship Strategy is a made-in-the-North Strategy that will guide the effective long-term stewardship of water resources in the NWT. The Strategy’s development was “led by a committee of Aboriginal and government representatives that have worked hard to ensure the voices of NWT residents have been heard on issues related to ecosystem health, sustainable development and the socio-cultural importance of water.” (from NWT Water Stewardship Strategy, GNWT, 2010). The Laurier-GNWT Partnership recognises that the long-term sustainability of this made-in-the-north strategy will rely upon a healthy resource of trained-in-the-north expertise. The Partnership participates in local training activities and programmes, including community-based monitoring. The Partnership is also working toward the development of new training opportunities, strategies and programmes for northerners.