Media releases

  • Online discussion to aid migrant workers during COVID-19 pandemic

    Categories: Media releases

  • Brock prof says back-to-basics approach can promote sustainability, curb boredom

    6 April 2020

    As physical distancing measures continue and more people are forced to stay home, now is a great time to go back to basics, says Brock University Professor Liette Vasseur.

    “Many people are living simpler lives and focusing more on necessities during this time, which provides us with a unique opportunity to closely assess our consumption patterns and ecological footprints,” she says. “While the current limitations will not be in place forever, we can use this time to assess what is critically important to our daily lives and what, ultimately, we can live without or do differently when things start to return to normal. This can help reduce waste and lessen our impact on the planet in the future.”

    People can also do more than they think — and with less — during this unusual time, Vasseur points out. She believes many people have either abandoned or never learned traditional skills such as sewing or gardening because it was never a necessity or came with a time commitment.

    “Engaging in these simple and practical hobbies can help you to stay busy, connect more deeply with nature and your surroundings, and give a boost to your mental health,” she says.

    Home gardening is a relatively inexpensive, educational and practical hobby that the household can do together. For families with kids, it’s also a great way to keep the little ones entertained while learning some basics about natural systems and sharpening math and science skills.

    “Gardening allows you to learn about different growing seasons, what grows well in Canada and what is needed to sustain their growth,” Vasseur says. “It also teaches you what it takes to grow the food we eat every day.”

    The activity isn’t restricted to those with large backyards or access to expensive equipment, either.

    “Even someone in an apartment with a small balcony or a spot next to a window with lots of natural light can grow their own plants,” she says. “You can reuse some of the things you already have at home, such as poking a few holes in the bottom of an old yogurt container and then adding some soil and the seeds of your choice.”

    Vasseur suggests starting off slow with a few easy-to-care-for varieties at first, such as radishes or living lettuce. She also encourages people to apply the knowledge gained about plant life cycles while gardening to contribute to citizen science initiatives like PlantWatch in the future.

    Liette Vasseur, Brock University Professor of Biological Sciences and UNESCO Chair in Community Sustainability: From Local to Global, is available for interview requests.

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

    * Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University, or 905-347-1970

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    Categories: Media releases

  • UNESCO Chair presenting at this year’s Celebration of Nations

    Photo provided courtesy of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre

    Press release from the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre
    RE: Celebration of Nations, Sept. 6 – 8
    August 29,  2019
    Click here to download a PDF of this release

    In this time of great environmental challenge, featuring accelerated species extinction, extreme weather events, glacier melt and sea level rise, increases in droughts and heat waves, and temperatures that are warming at an alarming rate with forest fires multiplying all around the world, this year’s Celebration of Nations (6-8 September 2019 at FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre) rightfully focuses on Empathic Traditions in search of Indigenous cultural solutions to a global cultural problem. For the sake of today’s living and future generations the peoples of the world can no longer afford to exhibit the hubris, self-interest, and ultimately self-destructive behaviour that currently and predominantly forms the basis of their social and economic reality.

    “In relation to environmental sustainability one of the hard and daunting realities that came into focus during work to synthesize research on this issue at the Smithsonian Institution, was the identification that culture needed to play a significant role in the solution,” said Artistic Producer Tim Johnson. “What was fascinating to me is that I had been hearing this from Indigenous knowledge keepers for decades. Onondaga Elder Oren Lyons, for example, had distilled this understanding down to four words, ‘Value Change For Survival.’ But now that science is in conformity, unfortunately, time is short and the challenge more daunting.”

    As a result, Celebration of Nations has recruited a group of prestigious allies who are working hard to address the complex environmental issues that are challenging the health of our living earth. These include Brock University, the Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association, Centre for Climate Change Management at Mohawk College, Niagara Parks Commission, Plenty Canada, Ontario Nature, Trent University, Walpole Island Land Trust, Youth Circle for Mother Earth, Canadian Commission for UNESCO, and many others. In addition, curators have asked participating artists to present creative works that reflect upon this year’s theme.

    “We need to combine knowledge with inspiration if we are to achieve our goal of preserving our Mother Earth for the Seventh Generation,” said Johnson. “Although the task is significant, many incredible people are working hard to remove us from the current path of destruction. Therefore, what we aspire to accomplish this year is to share essential and important information while showcasing the amazing work being done by some of the brilliant, passionate, and dedicated people who are serving on the front lines of our defense.”

    In an effort to address this challenge Celebration of Nations offers these informative, engaging, and participatory sessions and programs:

    The Great Niagara Escarpment: Indigenous Cultural Map | Sunday, 2 pm, Partridge Hall
    Official Premiere of The Great Niagara Escarpment Indigenous Cultural Map, a multimedia online resource containing stunning photography, captivating video, and contextual information that identifies important Indigenous historic, cultural, and natural world locations along more than 725 kilometres from Niagara Falls to the western region of Manitoulin Island.

    Under the guidance of the project’s Artistic Director Tim Johnson this remarkable resource was developed by Plenty Canada, an Indigenous charitable organization, in association with the Canadian Commission for United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), to explore how best to engage and include Indigenous peoples in the organization and activation of Biosphere Reserves within Canada. The Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Reserve is one of four Biosphere Reserves within Ontario. Each is mapped upon both traditional and historic Indigenous lands, however, little has been done to research, document, and integrate Indigenous land-based knowledge and experience, heritage sites, and areas that are important to the protection of biodiversity into the maps and materials that are used by UNESCO, First Nations, municipalities, educational systems, and other public agencies and organizations with connections to these areas. Project leads will present various aspects and applications of the map.

    Living In The Anthropocene | Sunday, 12:30, The Film House
    The ever-increasing impact of human activities on Mother Earth has resulted in changes not only in the environment but also the climate. Industrialization, the use of fossil fuels, overconsumption, and overexploitation of natural resources are all pushing the planet toward a new era called Anthropocene. The changes are now profound and, in many cases, irreversible. It appears we have reached a threshold and that the survival of the human and all other species on Earth is in jeopardy. If a global effort is not made to take immediate and radical action to protect and restore ecosystems, more than one million species will disappear over the coming decades. We are talking abouta sixth mass extinction. What are the avenues of solutions to reduce the current pressure we have put on Mother Earth? What actions do participants feel can be undertaken in our communities? Presentations followed by Q&A.

    Niagara Adapts: Contending With Climate Change | Saturday, noon, The Film House
    Niagara Adapts is an innovative partnership that brings together seven Niagara municipalities — Grimsby, Lincoln, Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Pelham, St. Catharines, and Welland — with Brock’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) to address what has been called the defining issue of our time. Baseline vulnerability and adaptive capacity assessments will be discussed byhost and moderator Dr. Jessica Blythe in collaboration with municipal partners and members of the Centre. The knowledge generated by this innovative partnership will help inform allocation of resources for climate change planning and adaptation and form the basis of ongoing monitoring and evaluation, which is an essential best practice in climate change adaptation planning. This panel offers Niagara Region residents a unique opportunity to learn about actions being taken to deal with climate change and to ask questions of specialists in the field. Presentations followed by Q&A.

    Lighting The Way: Indigenous Renewable Energy Projects | Sunday, 11 am, Robertson Theatre
    Increasingly, First Nations have been exploring and developing renewable energy projects as a meanstoward implementing their empathic traditions while creating jobs and generating income for their communities. As cited in a CBC report, a national survey revealed that “nearly one fifth of the country’s power is provided by facilities fully or partly owned and run by Indigenous communities” in a trend that “represents a dramatic increase in the last decade in renewable energy projects like hydro, wind, and solar power.” Among these sector leaders is Six Nations of the Grand River, which partnered with Samsung to develop the Grand Renewable Energy Park consisting of a 150MW wind farm and a 100MW photovoltaic solar farm, that provides enough clean energy to power 60,000 homes. Presentations followed by Q&A.

    Science As A Human Right | Sunday, 10 am, MIWSFPA
    Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits” (UN, 1948, p. 7). In November 2017, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) unanimously adopted the Recommendation on Science and Scientific Researchers, which replaced the former recommendation of 1974. This Recommendation includes a stronger link between science and society and aims to ensure that research outcomes can best support sustainable development and a more just world. Presentations followed by Q&A.

    Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association Film Shorts | Saturday, 4pm, The Film House
    This series of short filmsreveals the participation of Indigenous peoples in UNESCO-designated biosphere reserves across Canada as they work to protect and preserve the natural world. Presented by the Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association (CBRA), representing Canada’s 18 biosphere regions, these short films highlight Indigenous efforts to maintain the wondrous beauty and breathtaking features nature has bestowed upon the land from coast to coast to coast. Biosphere Reserve leaders will host the program and facilitate a Q&A session following the films.

    Cross-Cultural Partnerships for Mother Earth | Saturday, 2 pm, The Film House
    Protecting Mother Earth requires a new consciousness that brings together Indigenous traditions and knowledge systems with western science and conservation practices. This one-hour session will highlight the initiatives of four partner organizations aimed at building cross-cultural understanding, literacy and relationships as a foundation for collective action.
    Since 2016, Plenty Canada, Walpole Island Land Trust, the Indigenous Environmental Studies and Sciences Program at Trent University and Ontario Nature have been hosting gatherings, undertaking research and engaging and supporting youth leaders to create an ethical space for knowledge-sharing and collaboration. This session will focus on two of their current projects, the Youth Circle for Mother Earth and a series of gatherings on protected areas. The session will feature a panel of youth and organizational leaders who will discuss their hopes, plans, challenges, and accomplishments.

    The Empathic Poetry Café | Saturday, 4 pm, Robertson Theatre
    The Empathic Poetry Café is a 90-minute showcase featuring Indigenous artists from diverse nations performing storytelling and poetry styles addressing unique Indigenous perspectives involving empathic traditions and environmental consciousness. Each presenter will share two, five-minute pieces in a round-robin line-up style rotating through the program to produce a lively and engaging program. Robertson Theatre will be transformed into a poetry coffeehouse with cabaret seating, round tables, sofas, and soft lighting. Groove to the rhymes and rhythms of spoken word artists as they convey their expressions concerning the importance of protecting the environment and on the conduct required of human beings to securea sustainable living earth for future generations.

    The FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre aims to provide meaningful opportunities to bring our community together in a place of mutual understanding, empathy, and respect through the arts.

    Kakekalanicks’s mission is to promote Indigenous art and artists to broad-based audiences and acts to educate the public about the deep-rooted beauty and uniqueness of each Nation’s culture, heritage, and traditions through the medium of the Arts.

    The FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre aims to provide meaningful opportunities to bring our community together in a place of mutual understanding, empathy, and respect through the arts.

    Categories: Media releases, Updates of the Chair

  • Shoreline photos sought for Brock climate change study

    2 August 2019

    Two years after storms and high water hammered the Town of Lincoln with flash floods and washed out roads, communities in the Great Lakes region continue to deal with record-breaking water levels.

    This year, many of Lake Huron’s renowned beaches are reduced to shoreline footpaths. Commercial docks in the Thousand Islands are swamped and unusable. Residences along Lake Erie are threatened by eroding bluffs and shorelines.

    In Niagara region, Brock University researcher Meredith DeCock is working to determine just how much the Town of Lincoln’s Lake Ontario shoreline has changed, and what role climate change is playing in it.

    But first, the Sustainability and Society master’s student needs help from the Niagara community.

    DeCock is calling on the public to submit photos of the shoreline and surrounding area that will be used to recreate the coast through time and identify what caused its greatest impacts.

    The study was made possible by the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship, which she received last month from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). Seventeen Brock graduate students were awarded $670,000 in SSHRC funding in July, along with 14 of the University’s researchers who received $1.3 million.

    For DeCock’s study, photos from any year that show any segment of the Lincoln shoreline, its surrounding environment and development, as well as destruction due to high water levels, are needed. Submissions will be accepted until Sept. 30.

    In addition to community submissions, DeCock is using historical aerial photographs and GIS software to calculate the shoreline’s physical changes over time. Photos throughout the years will help her determine which windows of time have seen the greatest change.

    She will then look at how specific climatic and non-climatic factors could have influenced these changes.

    “I’m interested in learning what may be responsible for the most significant changes to the shoreline,” DeCock said. “Is it climate or environmental change, or significant development in the area like the construction of the Queen Elizabeth Way?”

    Working alongside her supervisor, Brock Biological Sciences Professor Liette Vasseur, and in conjunction with the Town of Lincoln, DeCock is part of a larger project funded by the Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response Network (MEOPAR) that is working with six coastal communities along the St. Lawrence Seaway to examine how they can deal with the impacts of climate change.

    “Meredith’s project fits wonderfully well with the spirit of the larger project of ecosystem-based adaptation for the Town of Lincoln,” Vasseur said. “We really hope this community-based approach can help people link their environment to the changes that are happening. Such a tool can have great potential for communicating with communities.”

    DeCock plans to make the results of her research accessible to the public through an interactive web application that will also be used as a communication tool for the larger MEOPAR project.

    “Studying the history of the shoreline is very important, but if we don’t use our findings to impact the future, then we are missing a huge opportunity,” she said. “I hope that by making the information available, we can positively impact future climate change adaptation decision-making.”

    DeCock is also working with her MEOPAR project partners to create blog posts that will share information on the group’s efforts and climate change in general with the community. These posts will be available on Brock’s UNESCO Chair website in the coming weeks.

    She is thankful for the SSHRC funding that made her study possible.

    “Sustainability science is solution oriented,” she said. “To have the federal government support my research elevates the importance of what I am doing. Climate change is a globally urgent topic and to know that our government sees it as a priority helps me to know I am doing something important with my research.”

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

    * Maryanne Firth, Writer/Editor, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x4420 or 289-241-8288

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    Categories: Media releases

  • Indicators point toward worse Great Lakes flooding than 2017

    2 May 2019

    Record-high lake levels led to devastating flood damage in Great Lakes coastal communities in 2017, but in the two years since, little has changed.

    Brock University Professor of Biology and UNESCO Chair in Community Sustainability Liette Vasseur said those communities are in for serious flooding this year.

    And she says despite knowing it was coming, our complacency as a society has meant that we’re not only ill-prepared, but we’ve made things worse on ourselves.

    “The pragmatism people have is that it’s all about today. Nobody thinks about the future,” she said. “We knew this was going to happen. All the signs were there.”

    Vasseur is an internationally recognized expert in the field of coastal flooding and climate change adaptation and is currently leading a research project examining the impacts of the 2017 flooding and what could have been done to change the outcomes.

    She’s been carefully watching the rising lake levels and said Lake Erie, for example, hit a record high in late April.

    Vasseur said the explanation can be found in a number of areas such as the control level plan for the Great Lakes and heavy snowfall and spring rainfall for some regions, but she said the decisions of municipalities and residents are having a major impact.

    “There are climate drivers, but what doesn’t help is the fact that people are building close to rivers and lakes,” she said. “These are dynamic systems. The human component is very important. You remove wetlands and pave over other areas so with heavy rainfall, the water has to go somewhere else.”

    Vasseur said even after the devastating floods two years ago, municipalities have continued to allow projects to be built in these sensitive areas.

    “It’s quite obvious to me that we didn’t learn the lessons,” she said.

    Vasseur’s recommendation is for residents living near coastlines to invest in waterproofing measures, and for municipalities to start creating buffer zones along rivers and lakes. Adaptation measures are badly needed. For some, it may even be to move from their residence, she said.

    While those steps won’t stop the effects of climate change, they will at least help to lessen the impact on communities and infrastructure.

    “We need to start bringing more of the natural components that can help with these storms like recreating wetlands and marshes,” she said.

    Brock Professor Liette Vasseur is available for interviews on the subject.

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

    * Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970

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    Categories: Media releases

  • Mature female STEM students face many barriers

    28 November 2018

    Mature female students pursuing Canadian university degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects face discrimination and other barriers, says a Brock-authored Canadian Commission for UNESCO research report.

    “Most women return to school because they know they have the capacity and ability to contribute to society,” says the report, researched and written by Brock University Professor of Biology Liette Vasseur and Brock Biology master’s student Heather VanVolkenburg.

    “These people are usually highly motivated and efficient in their studies, in part because of their level of maturity,” says the report, which also applies to women in college programs in the trades. “Unfortunately, they face several barriers that they most likely never anticipated.”

    These barriers include things like inadequate daycare, ineligibility for scholarships and a belief that mature female students won’t produce as much research because of family commitments, says the report, titled “The Non-Linear Paths of Women in STEM: The Barriers in the Current System of Professional Training.”

    The report defines ‘mature students’ as being 25 years of age and older.

    Vasseur, who holds the UNESCO Chair on Community Sustainability: From Local to Global, presented the report at a conference in Ottawa Tuesday, Nov. 27. Following Vasseur’s keynote address, a panel discussion was held on equity and inclusion in post-secondary STEM learning that included Canada’s Chief Science Advisor Mona Nemer.

    The report identifies six reasons why people don’t pursue a ‘linear’ university educational path, which typically moves from undergraduate to master’s to PhD with no or little break:

    • New career options
    • Need for more credentials
    • Delay due to family reasons
    • Need for family support
    • Career prospect improvement
    • Self-interest
    • Unlike their male counterparts, many female mature students delayed further studies because of a widespread perception that raising a family and pursuing academic degrees and careers were incompatible goals, says the report.

    This perception results in an “unconscious bias” that manifests itself in many ways, explains Vasseur.

    “One woman told me she was given a less-important research project because it was believed that she wouldn’t return the next year, as she was expecting,” says Vasseur.

    In another case, a mature woman had a similar experience, but in her case she was given a less-important project because she was close to retirement age.

    Female students with young children may find it difficult or impossible to attend an 8 a.m. or evening class when daycare centres open at 8:30 or 9 a.m. and end by 5 or 6 p.m., Vasseur says.

    Regarding financial support, the report notes that many student scholarship and employment opportunities are limited to people 30 years old and under. There are similar age caps in some postgraduate employment recruitment and retention programs.

    Ironically, despite these and other barriers, mature female students have a graduation rate of 70 per cent, compared to a graduation rate of 56 per cent for male mature students, says the report.

    And, the graduation rate of all mature students was four times higher than for young students in the years leading into 2015, says the report.

    Most universities are not particularly welcoming to mature students in general, says Vasseur.

    That’s because many universities in Canada were set up in the 1950s and 60s for a new generation of youth who needed to be educated in a booming post-war job market.

    The report makes a number of recommendations, including:

    • Improve information for mature students, especially on things like specific awards
    • Take work experience more into account for mature student admissions
    • Offer more online options, especially for early morning or evening classes
    • Train professors and admissions staff on unconscious bias
    • Remove age limits for scholarships and student employment programs
    • The report, “The Non-Linear Paths of Women in STEM: The Barriers in the Current System of Professional Training,” can be found on the Canadian Commission for UNESCO website.

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

    * Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970

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    Categories: Media releases

  • Brock researchers to introduce coastal research project to Lincoln residents and stakeholders

    26 November 2018

    A research project examining how coastal communities can deal with the impacts of climate change will formally launch in the Town of Lincoln this week.

    The town suffered around $1 million in damage as a result of back-to-back spring storms in 2017 that caused massive flooding from Lake Ontario. Announced in May, Brock University Professor and UNESCO Chair in Community Sustainability Liette Vasseur is leading a three-year research study that will focus on Lincoln as the Ontario component of a wider project by Université du Québec à Rimouski.

    The local research is being funded through a $280,000 grant from the Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response Network (MEOPAR) with additional support from the Town of Lincoln and Brock.

    The Lincoln research will officially be launched on Thursday, Nov. 29 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Fleming Centre in Beamsville. Interested residents and landowners will be able to meet Vasseur and her research team and learn more about how they can participate in the project. There will also be a short discussion to learn more about the experiences of those in attendance around climate change and extreme weather events in the town.

    “Our strong partnership with Brock enables these types of on-the-ground research opportunities, informing and providing evidence-based decisions for our community,” said Town of Lincoln CAO Michael Kirkopoulos.

    Vasseur said she hopes the end result of the research will be sustainable options for the future such as how to help slow down and prevent shoreline erosion or any other impacts on the town.

    “With this project, we want to help the community and the town contribute to solutions and strategies to adapt to climate change,” she said.

    What: MEOPAR Town of Lincoln Research Project Launch

    When: Thursday, Nov. 29, 6:30 to 8 p.m.

    Where: Fleming Centre, Room A, 5020 Serena Dr., Beamsville

    Who: Open to all

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

    * Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970

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    Categories: Media releases

  • Poetry contest celebrates International Year of Indigenous Languages

    21 November 2018

    Language plays a critical role in the daily lives, histories and identities of people around the world.

    Despite the important connections tied to the words we speak, UNESCO has identified more than 2,000 languages spoken by Indigenous peoples around the world that are in serious danger of disappearing.

    In an effort to recognize the important contribution these languages play in our cultural diversity, Brock’s UNESCO Chair in Community Sustainability has declared the theme of its annual Sustainability Poetry Contest to be aligned with the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

    Every year, the contest calls for writers from the local community to submit unpublished poems and artwork on themes related to sustainability.

    The contest is open to all residents of Niagara (inclusive of members of First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities and Six Nations), and will operate in co-operation with Indigenous groups and stakeholders across the region.

    UNESCO Chair Liette Vasseur said the contest will raise awareness about the need to preserve, revitalize and promote Indigenous languages and knowledge around the world.

    “I believe this is one small step that contributes to the sharing of knowledge with and about Indigenous peoples of Canada,” she said. “Their knowledge and languages are essential to understanding where we come from as a society and the sustainability of the environment around us.”

    The contest also seeks to promote the steps being taken by UNESCO, other United Nations agencies and stakeholders around the world to support, access and promote Indigenous languages in co-operation with the people who speak them.

    In Canada, every effort should be made to contribute to the Truth and Reconciliation Call for Action, Vasseur said — and little steps count.

    UNESCO has been celebrating March 21 as World Poetry Day since 1999. The contest uses poetry as a tool to bring awareness to social issues, give a voice to the community, promote linguistic diversity and change the way people view their place in the world.

    Vasseur said this year’s poetry contest has an especially important role to play in the promotion and preservation of linguistic diversity, culture and identity for vulnerable Indigenous communities in Canada.

    Poems can be submitted online until 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 15 by visiting the UNESCO Chair’s website.

    Prizes such as books and gift cards will be awarded in each of four categories: elementary student; high school student; college/university student; and general public.

    Winners will be announced at the UNESCO World Poetry Day celebration at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, March 21 at Mahtay Café in downtown St. Catharines. The event is free and open to the public, but registration will be required as space is limited.

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

    * Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970

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    Categories: Media releases

  • Brock biologist named President of Canadian Commission for UNESCO

    11 June 2018

    Liette Vasseur’s passion for the environment knows no borders, whether she’s examining crops in Ecuador, helping an Ontario town deal with shoreline flooding or co-writing the first international guidelines on ecosystems governance.

    The Brock University biologist has headed up dozens of conservation and research projects throughout the years, working with farmers, government ministers, students, presidents of global organizations and many others while doing so.

    Now her leadership in the field has been taken to a new level, with Vasseur being named President of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CCUNESCO).

    “Dr. Vasseur’s broad knowledge and experience in such areas as the environment, culture, women and communities here and around the world will be a priceless asset to the Commission, an organization dedicated to building a society of peace, equity and shared knowledge,” Simon Brault, Director and CEO of the Canada Council for the Arts, said June 6 while announcing the two-year appointment.

    CCUNESCO, operating under the Canada Council for the Arts, seeks to connect Canadians to the broader work of the Paris-based UNESCO, whose work “contributes to a peaceful, equitable and sustainable future that leaves no one behind.”

    UNESCO’s more notable initiatives include designating World Heritage Sites, Geoparks and Biosphere Reserves, engaging with youth, encouraging women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and promoting reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

    “I’m quite humbled,” Vasseur said of her appointment. “It is a genuine honour to have been chosen as the new President of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. The Commission does remarkable work in ensuring that UNESCO’s activities have a real impact in Canada and abroad.”

    Vasseur is no stranger to this international stage. In 2014, she was awarded a UNESCO chair for Community Sustainability: From Local to Global, which was renewed this year. 

    Last year, CCUNESCO appointed Vasseur to head up its Sectoral Commission on Natural, Social and Human Sciences, an 11-member group of Canadian scientists, academics and others providing knowledge and expertise on a range of issues. 

    The group is producing reflection papers on topics important to creating a long-range vision of how Canadians and the federal government can implement various actions related to sustainability. These include social and environmental impacts of climate change; conservation of natural heritage and water resources; inclusion of newcomers and vulnerable groups; reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people; youth engagement; and measures to fight discrimination, racism, violence, bullying and radicalization. 

    In her new role as President, a major focus will be the enhancement of Indigenous culture and knowledge in many of CCUNESCO’s activities. Other priorities include advocating for women’s involvement in STEM and engaging youth in UNESCO’s various projects and networks, she said.

    “This appointment demonstrates the high regard in which Professor Vasseur’s research and strong leadership are held, nationally and internationally,” said Brock’s Vice-President, Research Tim Kenyon.

    “It is also emblematic of the commitment of Brock University’s researchers to have their expertise make a powerful difference in the world. Scholars, evidence-based policy makers, and citizens from around the globe are fortunate to have Professor Vasseur serving in this influential role under the auspices of the United Nations.”

    Vasseur holds a number of high-profile leadership positions, including Past-President of the Canadian Coalition of Women in Engineering, Science, Trades and Technology; Vice-Chair (North America and Caribbean) of the Commission for Ecosystem Management of the International Union for Conservation of Nature; and lead of the thematic group on Ecosystem Governance. 

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

    * Maryanne Firth, Writer/Editor, Brock University, 905-688- 5550 x4420 or 289-241-8288

    Brock University Marketing and Communications has a full-service studio where we can provide high definition video and broadcast-quality audio.

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    Categories: Media releases

  • Brock-Lincoln Living Lab research project to examine Lake Ontario shoreline flooding

    3 May 2018

    The flooding of coastal communities along Lake Ontario last year caused major damage and made people realize that century floods aren’t nearly as rare as the name implies.

    A new research collaboration between Brock University and the Town of Lincoln is aimed at helping the community understand how to deal with the impacts of climate and environmental changes and examining potential avenues of solutions for future development along the shore. It’s the first externally funded project as part of the Brock-Lincoln Living Lab partnership announced in October 2017.

    Brock UNESCO Chair in Community Sustainability Liette Vasseur is leading the three-year research study for the Ontario component of a larger project by Université du Québec à Rimouski, which is examining how various coastal communities can deal with and share ideas on the impacts of climate and environmental changes.

    “Communities are becoming more and more exposed to different hazards,” said Vasseur, who has been involved in similar research initiatives in other communities in Atlantic Canada and Ecuador. “With climate change, these types of events are coming faster and more often.”

    The project has received $280,000 in funding from the Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response Network (MEOPAR), with additional support from the Town of Lincoln and Brock. MEOPAR is an independent, not-for-profit organization funded by the federal government as a National Centre of Excellence that supports research and trains students in the area of marine risk and resilience.

    Lincoln suffered around $1 million in damage as a result of back-to-back spring storms in 2017 that caused massive flooding from Lake Ontario. The storms led to the Town’s first-ever voluntary evacuation notice for residents living near the Lake Ontario shoreline, and caused significant damage to Charles Daley Park and sewer systems in Jordan Station and Campden.

    Vasseur said climate change scenarios over the next decade are projecting continuous sea level rise and increases in extreme weather events. This will amplify the severity and frequency of flooding in coastal communities like Lincoln, which is continually growing with more people living near the Lake Ontario waterfront.

    “People were always talking about 100-year events. Now it’s more like one every five years,” she said. “It shows that we need to be more prepared. When we’re planning things like residential developments, we need to plan in a way that we’re going to survive with these types of events.”

    For the Town of Lincoln, the research will provide crucial information about current and future risks.

    “In 2017, Lincoln experienced the real and harsh effects of severe weather on critical infrastructure in our community,” said Lincoln CAO Mike Kirkopoulos. “As another benefit of the Brock-Lincoln Living Lab, this research is grassroots to our community, helping us better understand the conditions for collective ownership of adapting to climate change as an organization and community.”

    Vasseur said the research team will include a postdoctoral fellow and a master’s student, who will collect data in Lincoln, and share information and ideas with other researchers and communities along the St. Lawrence Seaway.

    “It will be a very good learning experience for the students, while helping the communities at the same time,” she said. “We’re hoping that by the end, the data we’re going to get can be used by communities all along the coastline.”

    Lincoln Mayor Sandra Easton said municipalities like hers are learning that more frequent smaller floods — not just rare major flooding events — can have a big impact on resources.

    “Climate change and the impact on municipal infrastructure is top of mind for our council,” Easton said. “With the growing municipal infrastructure funding gap, municipalities have a responsibility for long-term planning and mitigation of the effects of climate change. This research is critical for council to understand how we can better identify actions toward climate change adaptation.”

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

    * Dan Dakin, Media Relations Officer, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970

    Brock University Marketing and Communications has a full-service studio where we can provide high definition video and broadcast-quality audio.

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    Categories: Media releases