Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik Community Centre


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Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik Community Centre


The mission of the centre is to:

  1. Promote, facilitate and stimulate multidisciplinary scientific research in collaboration with Northern residents;
  2. Disseminate information about ongoing research;
  3. To provide a meeting place and knowledge exchange between local communities and the Canadian and circumpolar scientific community;
  4. To provide accommodation, laboratory and greenhouse space for scientists;
  5. To provide coordination and logistics services for work in remote areas.

Community Centre

The Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik research complex is the flagship centre of CEN's network of eight Qaujisarvik research stations. In operation since the 1970s, the Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik station is located at the border of the taiga and the tundra, at the junction of James Bay and Hudson Bay, and at the ancestral limit of Cree and Inuit territories. A multitude of research projects on past and present environments have been conducted since then.

The receipt of a major AADNC grant (Arctic Research Infrastructure Fund - ARIF) in 2010 allowed for significant improvements to the station, including the construction of this brand new Community Science Centre, a state-of-the-art facility that meets the needs of the circumpolar science community for research planning, information exchange, international workshops, coordination of field operations, information exchange with local communities, science training for northerners, identification of northern research needs, traditional knowledge exchange and outreach activities.

The Community Science Centre officially opened its doors on June 14, 2012. The new building houses a permanent science exhibit aimed at science education and outreach in addition to a multi-purpose conference room that can accommodate up to 50 people. The centre is equipped with state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment and high-speed internet service.

Research Complex

The Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik research complex consists of six buildings, in addition to the Community Science Centre. The station can accommodate up to 34 people simultaneously. Students are housed in dormitories and researchers in private quarters. The station also has an experimental greenhouse, a cafeteria (with service in the summer), a workshop, a garage and storage facilities, a dry lab and a wet lab, and is equipped with vehicles and watercraft for all-season access. The station manager resides on site year-round.

A wide range of ecosystems and geosystems are easily accessible including Hudson Bay, the Great Whale River, lakes, ponds, wetlands, dune complexes, taiga, tundra, and discontinuous permafrost. Current research projects at the station include work on biodiversity and dynamics of northern aquatic ecosystems, impacts of melting permafrost in the context of climate warming, wetland paleoecology, vegetation restoration in degraded sites, and research on mercury dynamics (air, precipitation, snow).

Sustainable and Eco-Responsible Construction

In 2011, the new Community Science Centre received the CECOBOIS Award of Excellence in the sustainable development category.

This award recognizes projects that have successfully integrated sustainable development and energy efficiency concepts. During construction, it was essential for the CEN and the project team to design a building with an ecological footprint that respects the notoriously fragile northern environment. This building respects the environment thanks to passive solar heating, abundant south-facing windows and the integration of solar panels. Its envelope is made of black spruce, as is its interior. In addition to being a lighter material than steel or concrete, which translates into a reduction in the energy required for transportation, black spruce forms an ideal thermal barrier in an environment where temperatures drop below -40oC.

The design and construction of the Centre was based on openness to local communities and the integration of sustainable strategies and technologies adapted to a northern environment. This achievement, was able to promote the regional economy, and aims to serve as an example to encourage other projects in northern environments to deploy the necessary resources to respect their fragility.

To learn more about the project:

Développement durable CECOBOIS, 2011

Centre d'études scientifique du CEN, Voir Vert, 2011

Permanent Exhibition

The centre houses a permanent scientific exhibition aimed at raising awareness and teaching science, which describes the cultural and scientific history of the territory. The educational material is available in the four languages of subarctic Quebec: French, English, Cree and Inuktitut. In the same spirit, the multifunctional conference room has been specially designed to welcome schools of all levels for teaching and scientific popularization activities.

The "50 Years of Outreach" mobile exhibit in the centre's lobby provides visitors with a brief overview of the CEN's history, mission, research areas and its vast network of climate and research stations in Northern Quebec and the Canadian Arctic. It also illustrates how Quebec researchers contribute to the study of northern environments past, present and future.

CEN / Youth Fusion Collaboration

As part of its education and research mission, the Centre d'études nordiques (CEN) and Youth Fusion have joined forces to fight against the increasing absenteeism and dropout rate among Quebec students by inviting them to participate in extracurricular science activities.

In this context, the station's science project coordinator develops links with local schools (Cree and Inuit) so that young people can participate in activities based on research conducted at the CEN in the disciplines of ecology, biology, geography and meteorology. The activities are carried out at CEN facilities and in schools and allow these students to explore post-secondary training areas and to explore careers in science.

The coordinator also runs an after-school science club for elementary students in two schools (Cree and Inuit) to encourage and strengthen their scientific curiosity through fun hands-on activities.

Visiting scientists and university students are strongly encouraged to collaborate with these programs by hosting science outreach activities at the Community Science Centre. When possible, high school students can join research teams to participate in fieldwork and data collection.

International Mobility INTERACT

The CEN research stations complement the INTERACT network of circum-Arctic terrestrial research stations, a platform for expertise and exchange on station management and administration that aims to encourage the interoperability of environmental monitoring infrastructures and the implementation of research technologies adapted to the extreme climatic conditions of the North, as well as to facilitate accessibility to the network's research stations.

Support for international mobility granted to Russian researchers

Russian researchers Trofim Maximov and Ayal Maksimov have benefited from CEN's first international mobility support for members of the INTERACTnetwork of terrestrial research stations. During their stay at the Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik station, researchers from IBPC (Institute for Biological Problems of Cryolithozone of Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences) were interested in photosynthesis of tamarack (Larix laricina) and CO2 emissions from taiga forest soils with the aim of comparison with data from Yakutia. They also aimed to share research planning and coordination, northern science training, and knowledge of Canada's indigenous peoples. IBPC operates three research stations in Yakutia and has been collaborating for over 15 years with scientists from many countries, who previously lacked Canadian collaborators. The European Union has made this INTERACT project a "success story" to highlight the importance of international collaboration in studying environmental change and facilitating its prediction.

Read « A Siberian scientific team in Northern Canada! - Part I and II » from Trofim Maximov

Universities and Field Work

UQAM North Summer School (2005-2013)

The Institute of Environmental Sciences' PhD and MSc programs in Environmental Sciences organize the annual Environment and Development in Frontier Zones: The Case of Quebec's Boreal Forest course, an intensive two-week course that normally takes place in late summer in Quebec's mid-north. Several professors and lecturers, including Robert Davidson and Marie Saint-Arnaud, participate in the course and help students to become familiar with the major economic, human and biophysical issues of Quebec's mid-north and to study its sustainable development perspectives.

The journey begins in the Abitibi region where the students meet with various actors in the mining and forestry fields, representing the points of view of the industry, citizens' committees, Aboriginals, NGOs and university researchers. The course continues in Radisson and Chisasibi where issues related to hydroelectricity will be discussed from the perspective of both Hydro-Québec and the community of Chisasibi. Finally, the group will head to Kuujjuarapik, a village where Inuit, Cree and non-Native people live together with sometimes divergent interests, in a northern environment with remarkable biophysical characteristics. This training contributes to building bridges to a vast region that the inhabitants of southern Quebec are largely unaware of, perceiving only the wealth of its resources.

Maamuitaau-Illinia / Gather-Learn field training (2014)

The ArcticNet Student Association in collaboration with the Arctic Science Partnership and the Centre d'études nordiques (CEN) Student Committee, held a field training in February 2014 at the CEN Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik research station in northern Quebec. The event brought together about 20 graduate students from around the world. Topics covered during the training included: marine and freshwater systems, wildlife, vegetation, Arctic permafrost, and contemporary issues of northerners. Experienced instructors conducted the training through lectures, field activities and interactions with local communities.

Northern environments: transformations in response to climate and anthropization (Summer 2014)

The field trip took take place in the Radisson and Chisasibi areas of James Bay and Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik in Hudson Bay from August 16 to 28, 2014. Offered by the Department of Geography of Laval University in collaboration with the Centre d'études nordiques (CEN), this course is open to students from all undergraduate and graduate programs for whom the North and the sustainable development of this region is an important issue. Participants will be introduced to:

  • the impacts of climate on flora, fauna, permafrost, humans, etc.;
  • the contemporary and long-term functioning of northern ecosystems (forests, natural ecological disturbances, peatlands);
  • forestry, mining and hydroelectricity;
  • cultural changes in the Cree and Inuit populations;
  • urban expansion in the North in response to socio-economic factors;
  • past and recent northern political agreements; the Northern Plan for All and the Nunavik Plan.

Knowledge Transfer

Eeyu Cheschaaydamowin/Gathering Knowledge (August 2013)

An intergenerational and cross-cultural camp was held in August 2013 with the Whapmagoostui Cree on eastern Hudson Bay. A group of 18 people of all ages spent five days on the land with the goal of sharing their respective knowledge and coming together around the themes of northern plants, climate change and environmental science. This group included four elders, four youth, seven camp assistants from Whapmagoostui, two researchers from the Centre for Northern Studies and a filmmaker from Wapikoni Mobile.

See the film "Eeyu Cheschaaydamowin / À la cueillette du savoir", 2013 (21 min).

Marcoux-Fortier, I., Gérin-Lajoie, J., Masty, M., Mukash, M., George, S., Hébert-Houle, E., Bhiry, N., Vincent, W., Barnard, C. and Lévesque, E. 2013. Eeyu Cheschaaydamowin/The Plant Gathering Project/À la cueillette du savoir. Short documentary co-produced by Whapmagoostui First Nation and Centre d'études nordiques. Creation of Wapikoni Mobile. December 2013. 21 minutes.

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