Land Claims Agreement Coalition Conference 2020

“Until this conference I wasn’t aware of the extent of Modern Treaties Territories, but I know that permafrost is distributed across much of northern Canada. The conference made me realize that these Territories almost completely overlap the permafrost zones in Canada. Several northern communities are severely impacted by climate change and thawing permafrost, but it really hits home that most of the future permafrost changes will occur within Modern Treaties Territories.”

Peter Morse, CPA Secretary and NSERC PermafrostNet collaborator

On 11 and 12 February 2020, the Land Claims Agreement Coalition held their 8th National Conference, Making Modern Treaties Work: Building Today for a Better Tomorrow in Gatineau, QC.

NSERC PermafrostNet and the Canadian Permafrost Association came together to share a booth at the conference. The event provided a great opportunity to introduce our two organizations, explain what we do and hear about the climate-change related challenges faced by Indigenous communities.

The conference featured high-profile Canadian and international speakers, First Nation and Inuit leaders and youth, leading to meaningful discussions of timely legal, cultural and governance issues. The sessions focused on academic and technical training and improving intergovernmental relationships. Esteemed and inspiring speakers, included: Dana Tizya-Tramm, Chief, Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, Daniel Watson, Deputy Minister of CIRNAC, P.J. Akeeagok, President of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association and Gregor Gilbert, Director, Department of Environment, Wildlife, and Research at Makivik Corporation.

Photos: Tristan MacLean

Theme 1 workshop

Theme 1 and Database Development Workshop

“It was very convenient to be able to connect to the workshop remotely so that I could get an update on other people’s work and so I could give an update on my research as well. I like how the network ensures everybody can attend important meetings while also helping to lower our carbon footprint.”

Ariane Castagner

In February 2020 Theme 1 organized a two-day database development meeting in Ottawa that brought together investigators, graduate students, government collaborators and the network data scientist. This was the network’s first hybrid event, with some participants joining virtually using ZOOM, a video conferencing platform. 

The event began on Thursday 6 February with a discussion about the existing ground ice maps for Canada.  Brendan O’Neill and Steve Wolfe presented the most recent GSC ground ice map (O’Neill et al. 2020), and the group discussed the possible areas for improvement and future. In the afternoon, students Joe Young, Alejandro Alvarez and Ariane Castagner presented on their research.

On Friday, Steve Kokelj introduced the NWT Thermokarst Mapping Initiative and discussed possibilities for evaluating the Ground Ice Distribution and thermokarst potential. Next, the group reviewed regional datasets that could be used to test or improve ground ice mapping; Peter Morse, Ariane Castagner, Ashley Rudy, Panya Lipovsky, Pascale Roy Léveillée, Daniel Fortier and Toni Lewkowicz each presented datasets from their study sites or area of expertise. These datasets ranged in geography from the Yukon to the Hudson Bay Lowlands to the polar deserts of the high arctic.

This was followed by a discussion of some of the key questions for the PermafrostNet Ground Ice Potential map: whether test sites should be used for evaluation (and how such and evaluation might be done!) and how the maps might move past rule-based strategies to include remotely sensed or hybrid models.

Finally, Nick Brown presented on the existing database structures that could be used for compiling diverse permafrost data for the network, and initiated discussion about how to improve the database to meet the needs of the network. This also included a discussion of how ground ice mapping efforts could benefit from the PermafrostNet partnership with CCADI. 

Photos: Nick Brown and Emma Stockton