Canadian Museum of Nature

Canadian Museum of Nature

March 27, 2008 09:00 ET

National Lecture Series and Student Forums launched at the Canadian Museum of Nature for International Polar Year

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 27, 2008) - A dynamic national series of public education programmes focussed on the International Polar Year kicks off on Tuesday, April 1 in Ottawa at the Canadian Museum of Nature with an evening lecture by award-winning author and wildlife biologist Karsten Heuer. This is the official launch of the Polar Perspectives 2008 Speakers Series and Youth Forums which will cover 15 cities from coast to coast to coast this year. On April 2, Dr. Louis Fortier, Scientific Director of ArcticNet and one of Canada's leading experts on climate change, will give a public lecture in French at the Museum.

The series is presented by the Canadian Museum of Nature with the Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada in partnership with Students on Ice. The goal is to raise awareness about Arctic issues such as the impacts of climate change on the environment, health, Inuit culture, and sovereignty. International Polar Year began on March 1, 2007 and will continue to March 1, 2009.

"The Canadian Museum of Nature, together with our partners in the Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada, is proud to offer this national series to celebrate International Polar Year", says Joanne DiCosimo, the CMN's President and CEO. "The Canadian Museum of Nature, then a branch of the Geological Survey of Canada, sponsored the first Canadian Arctic Expedition (1913-18) and also co-led important Arctic fieldwork in 1908-1912. We are very pleased to give Canadians this opportunity to hear and discuss the most current Arctic research findings."

"Polar Perspectives is bringing people together with scientists, environmentalists, authors, filmmakers and activists", says Geoff Green, founder and Director of Students on Ice. "It will challenge people to think about real and immediate concerns, about the impact that their own actions are having and how they can make a difference. It will leave an International Polar Year legacy."

In addition to free evening lectures, all-day forums are being held for secondary school students to explore and discuss these issues. To participate, students submit applications answering brief essay questions about the Arctic and International Polar Year. Fifty youth will be chosen for each forum.

Karsten Heuer's presentation on launch day, April 1, is entitled Five Months on Foot with an Arctic Caribou Herd. It will cover the 1,500-km-journey that he and his wife, film-maker Leanne Allison, undertook in 2003 through the Yukon and Alaska with a 123,000-member herd. Their quest to follow the Porcupine Caribou herd from their wintering to calving grounds and back again was the subject of his book Being Caribou as well as a National Film Board of Canada documentary written and directed by Leanne with Diana Wilson. The goal of the five-month-trek was to understand one of North America's last great mammal migrations and to communicate their findings to politicians and to the rest of the world.

Dr. Louis Fortier's French lecture on April 2 Rechauffement planetaire : un ocean arctique libre de glace en ete d'ici 2015? (Global Warming: An Ice-Free Summer Arctic Ocean by 2015?) will look at climate change impacts in the vulnerable Arctic, from the rapidly shrinking ice cover to the threat to megafauna to the destabilization of the northern infrastructure. Dr. Fortier holds the Canada Research Chair in Polar Marine Ecosystems at Laval University and is Scientific Director of ArcticNet, one of Canada's networks of Centres of Excellence. This highly respected researcher and excellent communicator was named Scientist of the Year in 2004 by Radio-Canada and Scientific Personality of 2005 by La Presse and Radio-Canada. Dr. Fortier was recently made an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Both evening lectures will begin at 7:30 p.m. (Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. so the public can browse information displays).

After Ottawa, Polar Perspectives will be hosted at the Eptek Art and Culture Centre in Summerside, PEI, on April 14-15 and then at the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History in Halifax on April 16. For details about upcoming venues, dates and speakers in centres across the country, or to download the youth forum application form, visit

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