Dalhousie research coordinator from Nunatsiavut to speak at Ocean Decade Conference

March 26, 2024

Canada is one of the world’s largest countries and contains four distinct biomes. The Canadian arctic, or the tundra biome, is one of the most unique landscapes of the country. Spanning across the northernmost regions of Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Labrador, the tundra is changing rapidly amidst changing climate conditions.

Nunatsiavut (pronounced Noo-nut-see-ah-vuht), meaning “Our Beautiful Land,” is a coastal region in northern Labrador situated in the ecological transition zone between the arctic tundra and open boreal forest. This region spans a long five degrees of latitude, resulting in specific challenges for each of the five communities.

Researchers at Dalhousie University, Memorial University and the Nunatsiavut Government have partnered with communities in Nunatsiavut, northern Labrador, to help understand coastal and environmental change in Nunatsiavut.

The project, entitled Sustainable Nunatsiavut Futures (SNF), aims to do research in a collaborative way between academics, government and the community. The team includes academics spanning several disciplines in the natural and social sciences as well as local experts and knowledge holders. The project is contributing towards the development of long-term data sets in the region to provide support for decisions made by the self-governing Inuit region of Nunatsiavut.

Jacqueline Winters, the project’s research coordinator, has been invited to speak at the Ocean Decade Conference in Barcelona from April 10-12.

A unique perspective at the Ocean Decade conference

With the goal of bringing together a variety of ocean stakeholders, the 2024 United Nations Ocean Decade Conference will take place in the beautiful country of Spain.

The conference will evaluate current sustainable ocean progress and assess priorities for the future, with a focus on climate change, food security and sustainable management of biodiversity, all targets of the SNF project.

Resulting from her incredible work and success with the SNF project, Winters has been asked to speak at the conference to share her unique perspectives from Canada’s North.

“I am very excited to voice my concerns as someone who sees firsthand the effects of climate change in my region, and as someone who can speak for others in my region who I know are struggling with these changes,”

says Winters.

Winters will be participating in the Indigenous-led and Community Engaged Ocean Science session at the conference,

“Jacqueline has a passion for outreach and communication and is a natural leader,” says Dr. Amanda Bates, co-lead researcher for the SNF project . “We are delighted to have Jacqueline be recognized by the Canadian Commission for UNESCO.”

“We hope that her community-engaged research at SNF will be inspiring to others, but also that Jacqueline will return with glimmers of a hopeful future from the connections she will make in Barcelona and the stories that will be shared.”

Jacqueline out in the field near Doublemer, Rigolet.

Jacqueline Winters has been the Inuit Research Coordinator for the SNF project over the past three years.

“The SNF is a safe place for Inuit to express their concerns about climate change and contribute,” says Winters.

“This project really values traditional knowledge and incorporating that into research.”

Giving back to her community

Jacqueline and her family (Jacqueline, her twin daughters Serena & Addison, her son Mylo, spouse Dillon).

Winters, born and raised in the Nunatsiavut community of Rigolet, has been vital to the success of the project.

“We hired Jacqueline because she has excellent skills in engaging and communicating with community,” says Dr. Bates. “Having ample knowledge of the land and a passion for her community, Winters was the perfect candidate for the research coordinator position.”

As part of her role, Winters has supported and participated in surveys of the local seabird islands where she lives, and organized events with her community using inclusive and creative ways of working.

“I always wanted to pursue a career in which I can feel that I am giving back to my community, and SNF made that possible for me,”

says Winters.