By Andrea Minano, MSc Student, University of Waterloo
From June 4th to June 18th, 2014, a team from the Partnership for Canada-Caribbean Community Climate Change Adaptation (ParCA) travelled to Shelburne County and the Region of Queens Municipality in Nova Scotia. The team was primarily composed of 4 Master’s candidates from the University of Waterloo: Shandel Brown, Saveena Patara, Maliha Majeed and Andrea Minano. Other associates from ParCA were able to attend for parts of the trip, including Dr. Carolyn Brown (University of Prince Edward Island) and Dr. Ahmed Khan (St. Mary’s University).
Each member of the ParCA team had a series of goals to accomplish during this trip. Saveena and Shandel focused on delivering the results of their research based on in-person interviews to community members and stakeholders in the study site. Their secondary role was to share their experiences and contacts with Maliha and Andrea, who are responsible for conducting follow-up research in Shelburne and Queens. These stakeholders and community members varied widely from institutions, roles, responsibilities, and fields of expertise. Some examples of these contacts included Mike MacLeod (Planner from Liverpool), Dayle Eshelby (Lockeport Councillor), Jen Graham (Coastal Coordinator for Ecology Action Centre), and tourism and fisheries stakeholders across the region. Through these meetings, it was possible to gain a more thorough understanding of the current challenges and uncertainties the communities are currently facing in relation to climate change, aging populations, and economic limitations.
Andrea and Maliha were able to scope the study site and become more aware of the relevance, importance and need of climate change research in the South Shore. Andrea was also able to test a web-mapping pilot survey for understanding the technological gaps with South Shore participants and gaining an insight to the environmental vulnerabilities across a wide geographic region. Participants were able to complete the survey without help from researchers while contributing information regarding flood and erosion-prone areas in the South Shore. Some of this information offered a greater insight to the environmental challenges in the community and an opportunity for the researcher to visit the indicated sites and take geo-tagged photos. The information gathered through the pilot study is highly valuable as these details will now be taken into account in the future directions of research.
In the final week of the trip, the team left the South Shore to present at the Coastal Zones Canada conference. The presenters and the presentations of the conference offered an insight to research initiatives in coastal environments, many of which were related to climate change in Nova Scotia. Several ParCA members from the University of Prince Edward Island, St. Mary’s University, University of Waterloo and the University of the West Indies made an appearance and discussed a wide variety of topics from the role of governance in climate change adaptation to climate change vulnerability assessments using Geographic Information Systems. The significance of these studies and research initiatives was highlighted by a panel discussion which offered an insight to the importance of sharing research results with communities who were engaged in studies. This, for many of the panelists, was seen as a vital change in research and as a necessary practice in the future.