This summer has been quite the adventure. What began in China in May has become a bit of a round-the-world tour as I’ve travelled from place to place for various reasons. I spent time teaching a course in China as part of a relationship between the School of Computer Science and Dalian Nationalities University. After that I spent a month in Malawi as part of the Leave For Change program, helping to develop a framework for the Agricultural Research and Extension Trust. I wasn’t home long before I once again boarded a plane, this time to spend just over a week in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Rigolet, in the region of Nunatsiavut of Newfoundland and Labrador.
While China was primarily focused on teaching, and Malawi was primarily focused on service, my trip to Rigolet was part of a broader interdisciplinary research program that spans the mandates of each of the tri-council funding agencies1. Specifically, I’ve been working with Dr. Sherilee Harper (Department of Population Medicine, University of Guelph), Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo (Canada Research Chair, Cape Breton University, and recently announced Director of the Labrador Institute) and the community of Rigolet, to develop a web and mobile application for monitoring environmental changes and health. The team includes Oliver Cook and Dominic Gagne (MSc students in the School of Computer Science), Alex Sawatzky (a PhD student in the Department of Population Medicine), community members Inez Shiwak and Charlie Flowers, and Anna Bunce (our Project Manager).
Our recent visit to Rigolet (my third since last October) was to officially launch the pilot environmental and health monitoring program known as eNuk. Designed using participatory methods, eNuk will allow community members to geospatially track changes to the land and environment that are important to them. The web portal and mobile app will also allow participants to record thoughts, feelings, photos, videos, and audio messages that can be kept private or shared. Any shared content will provide others with the ability to comment, effectively crowd sourcing knowledge and stories that span people and places.
The data collected through the app will be used to provide timely health interventions, improve safety on the land, and allow us to better understand the impacts and adaptations related to climate change, the environment, and wellness. The data will also be used to further develop and refine the app and website so that it continues to support the community in the ways that are relevant to them.
The pilot program is the first step in a multi-year program. It’s an ambitious project, but with the town of Rigolet working with us, I don’t doubt that it’ll be successful.
1 Although all three trips have covered the spectrum of teaching, service, and research to some degree.