Conference: Strengthening the Ecojustice Movement

By on March 13, 2009 | Filed Under News | Comments Off

Strengthening the Ecojustice Movement:
How Will Disenfranchised Peoples Adapt to Climate Change?

Two-Day Conference
April 16-17, 2009

April 16th – Founders Assembly Hall
April 17th – The Underground

Community activists and activist scientists from Brazil, India, South Africa, and Arctic Canada  will share stories of local vulnerabilities to climate change, and discuss strategies for addressing inequities in climate change causation, mitigation, funding, and education.

Sponsored by Environment Canada, International Polar Year, York International, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University, & IRIS

For more information please contact the conference coordinators:

Annette Dubreuil ( or
Jennifer Jew (

Phone: 416-736-2100 ext 33631
347 York Lanes, York University
4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario, M3J 1P3

Newsletter No. 2 now available

By on September 30, 2008 | Filed Under News | Comments Off

Check out our second newsletter covering April 2007 until April 2008.

Update from Julia

By on July 28, 2008 | Filed Under News | Comments Off

2008 has been a very busy year so far. I have spent the last five months in Inuvik and Yellowknife, conducting fieldwork for my doctoral research which forms part of the GAPS project. My research looks at the relationship between housing insecurity and homelessness in the Northwest Territories and how this relationship is affected by economic growth brought about through resource development. To understand the housing insecurity-homelessness relationship, participants are asked to discuss what makes them feel ‘at home’ in a place and what makes them feel not ‘at home’. This discussion helps to create a better sense of what is needed to build housing security and, conversely, what creates housing insecurity.

Research has been going very well, with a great deal of interest and participation from community members. Community organizations such as the Inuvik Homeless Shelter, Inuvik Interagency Committee members, Yellowknife Homelessness Coalition members, and the Centre for Northern Families have provided an incredible amount of support and input over the course of this project. It has indeed been a collaborative effort. I would like to say a big “Mahsi Cho!”, “Quyanainni!”, and “Thank you!” to these groups and individuals.

In the fall, I will conduct fieldwork in the community of Paulatuk to get a sense of how these issues within the context of a small, settlement community and how they connect with housing insecurity and homelessness in larger centres. Without a doubt, homelessness in the territory is the result of a complex web of factors that link communities together. For example, homelessness in Yellowknife can be reflective of issues in much smaller, remote communities. Homelessness is a territory-wide issue.

Of incredible importance are the two research assistants who have provided a great deal of help and support to this project. Kate Snow, an Inuvik high school student, worked closely with me on that portion of the project. Currently, I am working with Gilly McNaughton, a local student and youth worker, here in Yellowknife.

- Julia Christensen
Inuvik & Yellowknife, NT

Podcast with Brittany Hardisty-Isaiah

By on July 11, 2008 | Filed Under Podcasts | Comments Off

While we were in Fort Simpson, we had the opportunity to recruit several local youth to be partners with our research team. Brittany was one of them, and the following is a podcast of our discussion.


Snapshots from Fort Simpson

By on July 3, 2008 | Filed Under General | Comments Off

We are FINALLY looking for non-indigenous plants in the NWT

By on June 22, 2008 | Filed Under General | Comments Off

Milissa (Missy) Elliott has been planning her field work for months. She has been poring over maps, faxing permit applications all over the NWT, applying for extra research funds, and meeting with her supervisory committee. When I arrive at the lab everyday, Missy is invariably sitting at her computer.

After all of this preparation, it feels slightly unreal to be outside looking at plants and talking to people about changes that they have been seeing in the plants. Although I have recently spent many months in the arctic in Europe, it’s been more than 20 years since I have been in the Canadian north. (From 1980-84 I spent my summers in the sub-arctic salt-marshes of Hudson Bay, east of Churchill, Manitoba. This has since become Wapusk National Park.) Being back with Canadian northern plants and flowers is like seeing old friends after a long time. BUT, there are also changes, and we are seeing and measuring species that have come north since I was last around 60 degrees in Canada. So, not only is Missy having to improve her plant identification skills to collect her data, and learn all of those boring Latin names, BUT so am I having to learn new species!

So far, the most unexpected non-indigenous species that we have found is Siberian pea shrub or Caragana, which grows all over Fort Simpson.

- Dawn Bazely in Fort Simpson
incredibly hot and with some of
the most amazing gardens that
I have seen in northern regions.

Julia wins Trudeau Scholarship

By on June 9, 2008 | Filed Under News | Comments Off

Yellowknife native and GAPS co-investigator, Julia Christensen, just won the prestigious Trudeau Scholarship for 2008. Her PhD and IPY research is entitled Homeless in a Homeland: Housing (in)Security and Resource Development in the NWT. Julia was also profiled in a full page spread of the Yellowknifer.

The Trudeau Scholarship is Canada’s most prestigious doctoral level award. Congratulations Julia!

Below is a short profile from the Trudeau Foundation web site:

Born and raised in the Northwest Territories, Julia Christensen is committed to making a positive and meaningful contribution to northern peoples and places.

Through her doctoral research, Julia explores the link between housing insecurity and homelessness in the context of northern communities. “Housing is integral to human wellbeing,” she says. “It defines our access to community, services, work opportunities, and relationships.” Julia’s doctoral research is rooted in the recognition that housing is a right, and that its tenure is an expression of social inclusion and citizenship. “By allowing a significant portion of our population to live without their most basic needs met,” she asserts, “we allow our neighbours to be disenfranchised and excluded in the most fundamental way.”

Julia has a broad range of northern research experience, nationally and internationally. In addition to her doctoral studies, she is co-investigator of an International Polar Year project on “The Impacts of Oil and Gas on Peoples of the Arctic Using a Multiple Securities Perspective”, contributor to the University of Århus-based “Metropolia Arctica” project in Denmark, and contributor to the University of Tromsø-based “Human Security in the Arctic” initiative in Norway.

Julia is co-director of Northern Students/Northern Research, an initiative to promote community-based research by building bridges between northern student researchers and northern communities; and, co-director of the Canadian Youth Steering Committee’s Time Capsule project aimed at presenting life in the North through the eyes of northern youth using photography and other art forms.

As a freelance journalist and consultant, Julia has valuable experience exploring techniques for effective communication and community participation. To broaden the accessibility of her research, Julia works to reach a wider audience with popular writing, visual media such as photography and community research workshops.

First Newsletter Published

By on March 10, 2008 | Filed Under News | Comments Off

Our first GAPS Initiative newsletter has just been released. You can download it (PDF format) in its entirely here.

CBC: Investigators in the News

By on February 20, 2008 | Filed Under News | Comments Off

One of our investigators, Julia Christensen, was on CBC North News recently. Check out the story!

Northern youth art, writing to join International Polar Year snapshot
Last Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2008
CBC News

Young people from across Canada’s North will be invited to write, photograph, draw and paint their way into International Polar Year research by taking part in a time capsule project that aims to document the region through the eyes of its youth.

The time capsule is part of the current International Polar Year research project, which launched in March 2007 and runs until 2009. It is being organized by IPY’s Canadian youth steering committee, which includes Yellowknife native Julia Christensen.

“It’s the youth that are going to inherit this world, and it’s the youth whose perspectives, you know, really need to be heard in this International Polar Year,” said Christensen, currently a post-graduate student at McGill University, in an interview.

“Its main aim is really to provide a snapshot of what life is like in the North from the eyes of northern youth, so that 50 years from now, during the next International Polar Year, we can look at that perspective and understand sort of how far have we come.”

Christensen said the time capsule will seek photography, artwork and creative writing from youth, so that their views are documented alongside those of scientists, politicians and other community members.

“We’re sending art supplies and also disposable cameras, so that we can get some grassroots projects where youth will go out with cameras and with their art supplies and basically provide us with a visual snapshot of what, you know, a day in the life of a young person is in a northern community,” she said.

The capsule, once completed, will tour northern communities before being stored at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre in Yellowknife, where it will stay sealed for the next 50 years.


By on May 22, 2007 | Filed Under General | Comments Off

Welcome to the GAPS webpage! GAPS is a fully endorsed International Polar Year (IPY) project and is funded through the Norwegian and Canadian IPY programs.

GAPS is a multi-national, multi-disciplinary initiative that aims to examine the scope and range of human security in the Arctic. GAPS specifically focuses on the impacts of oil and gas activity on climate change and on Arctic peoples, in order to identify and document threats and coping strategies from multiple security perspectives (in both Arctic communities and among Arctic researchers). GAPS aims to deliver this knowledge in cooperation with Arctic communities, to other Arctic communities, and to the human security policy and academic communities.

All GAPS research is being conducted according to the ethical guidelines established by the ICSU/WMO Joint Committee.

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