News from Newfoundland

UHI Shetland's Dr Andrew Jennings has recently attended a Research Strategy Meeting in snowy Newfoundland.

Collaboration was the order of the day for the Northern and Arctic Island Studies Research Thematic Network workshop held in a snowy St. John's, Newfoundland, December 7-8. Organized and facilitated by Bojan Furst and Sheila Downer of the Harris Centre at Memorial University, Andrew Jennings of UHI Shetland  and Laurie Brinklow at the University of Prince Edward Island. The workshop brought together 30-some researchers and students, in-person and online, from around the North Atlantic, to strategize a research agenda for the coming year. Online participants with a Shetland connection included  Simon Clarke, Siun Carden and Viveka Velupillai. 

The group discussed a number of themes, including:

  • Youth: leaving vs. staying; access to education and meaningful employment; mental health as a cost of isolation; changing demographics as youth leave and temporary foreign workers fill jobs that no one else wants; 
  • Blue Economy: importance of blending scientific and traditional knowledges; ocean health; climate change and ice; demographic challenges;  reconciliation; diversification
  • Indigenous languages: ensuring languages remain "the breath of the culture" and are used across social and economic sectors, not just symbolic; connections among language, identity, and well-being
  • Climate Change: creating place-based climate change adaptation strategies; utilizing traditional and intergenerational knowledges; break down silos;  reimagining the future of work; communicate stories of hope
  • Energy: unpacking NIMBYism; creating place-based, island-made social enterprise solutions; sharing stories where equity and justice are front and centre; 
  • Transportation: effects of links (fixed and ephemeral) on island viability and identity, food security; utilizing hub-and-spoke models; 
  • Intangible Cultural Heritage: creating inclusive communities, well-being, sense of belonging, identity through traditional and Indigenous knowledge and ICH; utilizing culture and ICH to address big challenges such as climate change

Youth and climate change came across in all the discussions. Other cross-cutting themes included the challenges of competing interests and contested space on islands, doing a better job of sharing best and worst practices, and reframing the conversation to communicate the positive stories of island living. As one youth joining remotely from Black Tickle, Labrador, put it, "If you can make it easier to come and go, it becomes easier to stay." As it was, it would have cost her $5,000 CAD to travel to St. John's for the workshop. 

Adele Lidderdale, attending in person and representing the Institute for Northern Studies PhD students, contributed to the panel -  Future Island Industries, along with Simon Clarke. Siun Carden took part in the panel - Intangible Cultural Heritage, while Andrew Jennings took part in the panel Transport, Infrastructure and Fixed links, where he was able to promote his forthcoming book The Bridge Effect: Critical Reflections in the Age of Technological Solutionism.