After an overnight layover in Whitehorse and a quick stop in Dawson City, I arrived in Inuvik to crisp air and sunshine on the afternoon of September 19th, 2022.
First stop was checking in at the Aurora Research Institute office (I stayed in their visiting researcher facilities for most of my trip), then I commenced the busy bustle of gearing up for the next two weeks. I coordinated most of the trip from down south, but once I was in Inuvik I had to follow up on all my planning efforts, including things like:
Meeting staff at the Parks Canada Western Arctic Field Unit office to borrow animal hides for the school session show & tells
Rounding up sheep horns/skulls and wildlife camera traps at the GRRB office
Printing/distributing the project information posters and open house invitations I designed
Organizing the science & education promotion items (including swag for each school session and the community open house). Lucky, I had shipped all the UVic items to Inuvik a head of time so they were ready to be organized when I arrived
Checking in (in-person) at the Inuvik schools and finalizing the presentation schedules
The next day was nothing but organized and productive chaos, and absolutely flew by. Finally, it was Wednesday, September 21st, and after over a year of planning, it was time for my first school session! I ended up doing seven sessions (grade 4 through 6 focus) at East Three Elementary School on the 21st and 22nd. On the 23rd, it was a big gear switch to East Three Secondary School, where I was able to give four sessions to students ranging from grades 8-12. Each of these 11 sessions (60 minutes each) were age-tailored and interactive. For the younger students, I focused on the basics of sheep biology & ecology before giving an overview of my research project and relating it back to community stewardship efforts. For the older students, I was able to dive deeper into the research project and talk more about braiding traditional knowledge and science. The older students also had a career and education portion to their session, where I attempted to showcase the diversity of wildlife science & management opportunities in the local area, and what kind of secondary and post-secondary education would help them meet their future goals.
The students got their hands on a variety of local animal hides, as well as a Dall's sheep skull and two sets of horns. Using the horns, they were able to practice aging rams; I think this activity was helpful to help them understand how I'm using wildlife cameras to study sheep demography. We also had so much fun playing with the wildlife cameras, getting loads of selfies and class photos (of coarse with all the horns and hides as photo props).
Following school/student privacy protocol, only a few specific photos from these sessions will be shared publicly. The above images are shared with permission.
While the focus of the school sessions was to talk about my research and the Dall's sheep projects going on in the local area, it was really important to me to showcase the diversity and abundance of wildlife career options that exists in the area. By inviting additional speakers from local organizations, my goal was to establish connections & contacts for students interested in pursuing a wildlife or science career, education, summer student job, etc. At the Inuvik schools, I was joined by Jacqueline, a Resource Management Officer from the Parks Canada Western Arctic Field Unit, and Faye, a Wildlife Biologist (carnivore specialist) from the NWT Government, who were both absolutely fantastic to share this experience with. Jacqueline & Faye did an awesome job of talking about the wildlife work their organizations are doing and sharing relevant opportunities for students to get involved. It was also just really helpful to have extra hands helping out with show & tell items (animal hides, sheep skulls, wildlife cameras, etc.) while I was doing my presentation. A huge thank you to Jacqueline & Faye for participating in the Inuvik sessions - you both elevated this experience for myself and the students!
Leaving the high school on Friday after success in delivering these sessions, my heart was so full. Getting to be a part of this type of learning with the students and having them express interest in local wildlife and future careers to me was so special and rewarding. Thank you Inuvik for welcoming me into these class rooms - I am so grateful to all the staff & students for having me and for being such excellent audiences! Overall, this is in the books as a very treasured experience.
That's a wrap for my first week in Inuvik. Stay tuned for week two in the coming blogs!
Funding for all activities provided by NSERC Indigenous Student Ambassador Award.