News Article | March 2, 2017
VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - March 2, 2017) - A memorial to the British Columbia search and rescue volunteers who lost their lives in the line of duty has been unveiled on the grounds of the Legislative Buildings in Victoria. Seventeen volunteers have died during the past 50 years while taking part in search and rescue activities. There are more than 4,400 search and rescue (SAR) volunteers active in the province today. The memorial is a joint project by the three organizations representing land, marine, and aviation SAR volunteers: the BC Search and Rescue Association, Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue, and PEP Air. "British Columbia is one of the most challenging search and rescue regions in the world, and this memorial will be a reminder of the vital role that highly trained and dedicated volunteers play in the public safety system in our province," said Pat Quealey, CEO of Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue. "This joint project is also symbolic of the close partnership our volunteer organizations have with each other and with the federal, provincial and local agencies which call upon us to respond during emergencies." The B.C. Search and Rescue Volunteer Memorial has been installed near memorials to police, fire and ambulance personnel on the south-east side of the Legislative Buildings. The three volunteer SAR organizations raised more than $100,000 to cover the cost of the polished black and grey marble monument. The Speaker of the Legislature provided support with site preparation. Local ground search teams, Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue crews, and PEP Air pilots and crews collectively respond to more than 2,000 incidents every year, saving many lives. Volunteers log a total of more than 280,000 training and mission hours each year. "Trained volunteers are often the first - and sometimes only - rescuers to arrive to help people in trouble," said Chris Kelly, President of the BC Search and Rescue Association. "This monument is a solemn reminder that despite extensive safety programs their work can still be dangerous. It is also a lasting tribute to the volunteers who lost their lives to help others." "As volunteers we receive no payment, but dedicate our time and skills to helping our communities," said Alton King, Director of PEP Air. "We are pleased this memorial will honour all those who serve." THE ORGANIZATIONS BEHIND THE SEARCH AND RESCUE MEMORIAL Search and rescue (SAR) in British Columbia has three categories: air, marine and ground. The British Columbia Search and Rescue Volunteer Memorial is a joint project by the three organizations that represent volunteers in each of those SAR categories. The Provincial Emergency Program Air (PEP Air) is a province-wide volunteer aviation association that promotes aviation safety and provides air search support services to the National Search and Rescue Program. PEP Air has more than 75 aircraft crewed by more than 500 volunteer pilots, spotters and navigators. Crews assist the Canadian Armed Forces, RCMP and other emergency agencies in searching for aircraft, boaters, hikers and others. www.embc-air.org With a focus on excellence in community-based marine safety, RCMSAR's more than 1,000 members operate 35 stations on the west coast and in the Interior. Volunteer marine rescue crews respond to an average of 800 emergencies on the water every year. That is about a third of all marine incidents on the west coast. RCMSAR supports the Canadian Coast Guard and is tasked by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria. Crews operate a range of fast response vessels designed and built in British Columbia for the challenges of our rugged coastline. www.rcmsar.com BCSARA represents 80 search and rescue groups and more than 2,500 volunteers who conduct ground search and rescue throughout British Columbia. The organization serves as a liaison between Emergency Management British Columbia, the RCMP, local police and other agencies. Ground search and rescue volunteers respond to about 1,500 incidents per year. Their assistance can be requested by police, the BC Ambulance Service, BC Coroners Service, fire departments, the Canadian Armed Forces and Parks Canada. www.bcsara.com The British Columbia Search and Rescue Volunteer Memorial honours those who have lost their lives in the line of duty. It also honours all those who serve. The memorial is in memory of:
News Article | November 15, 2016
Take the 2017 Canada Day Challenge for your chance to win a VIP trip to Parliament Hill to take part in celebrations for the 150th anniversary of Confederation GATINEAU, QUEBEC--(Marketwired - Nov. 15, 2016) - Created 30 years ago, the Canada Day Challenge is an annual contest that gives young Canadians aged 8 to 18 the chance to share their unique vision of our country. This activity gives young people the chance to express their creativity in one of three categories: Three winners will be chosen at the end of the contest. They will each receive an unforgettable VIP trip to Ottawa with a parent or legal guardian, all expenses paid, to take part in celebrations for the 150th anniversary of Confederation on Parliament Hill. Their entries will also be featured on official posters for Canada Day celebrations in 2017. Once again this year, the winners will get the chance to work with a team from the National Film Board and produce an individual short film to share their experience in Canada's Capital Region. In addition to the Canada Day Challenge, Historica Canada is holding a contest for aspiring young filmmakers: Here's My Canada. Visit heresmycanada.ca for more information. Canadian Heritage wants to thank the official sponsors of the Canada Day Challenge: the National Film Board, Parks Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Encounters with Canada, the Trans Canada Trail, Canada Post, the Canadian Museum of History and the Royal Canadian Mint. To find out more about the contest and entry rules, or for other educational resources, visit the Canada Day Challenge website at www.canada.ca/canada-day-challenge. "In 2017, Canadians will celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation. This is the perfect opportunity for young people to express their creativity through the 30th Canada Day Challenge. They are invited to celebrate the future by capturing our country's culture and heritage in drawings, photographs and the written word. I invite young people all across Canada to demonstrate their talent with this contest, which is sure to be a unique creative experience for them once again this year." Follow us on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Flickr.
News Article | September 21, 2016
Lightning records The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has recognized two world records for extreme lightning: the longest-distance flash covered 321 kilometres in 2007 in Oklahoma, and the longest-duration flash lasted 7.74 seconds in southern France in 2012. The WMO has added lightning records, announced on 16 September, to its list of other weather extremes — such as temperature and precipitation — given the improved monitoring of the phenomenon in recent years. Arctic ice cover hits second-lowest level Despite a relatively cold and cloudy summer, sea ice in the Arctic Ocean dropped to its second lowest extent since satellite observations began 37 years ago. Arctic sea ice seems to have reached its seasonal minimum on 10 September, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado. Ice cover stood at 4.14 million square kilometres, which ties with 2007 as the second-lowest minimum in the satellite record. The ten lowest extents have all occurred since 2005. In September 2012, Arctic sea-ice cover dropped to a record-low 3.39 million square kilometres. Terror discovered Marine archaeologists have found the probable remains of HMS Terror, the second of two ships lost in a failed 1845 Arctic expedition led by John Franklin. Following a tip from an Inuit crew member, a search party from the Arctic Research Foundation, a Canadian charity, found the submerged vessel in the aptly named Terror Bay, on the coast of Canada’s King William Island. The wreck was in good condition with its hatches closed, suggesting that crew members abandoned it and boarded Franklin’s second ship, HMS Erebus to sail farther south. The Erebus was later abandoned and all 129 expedition members lost. Parks Canada said on 14 September that it aims to validate the find. Dystrophy drug The US Food and Drug Administration has approved its first drug to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The decision, announced on 19 September, is controversial owing to the small size and lack of a placebo control in the key clinical trial conducted by the developer, Sarepta Therapeutics in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The agency will require Sarepta to conduct another study to verify the effects of the drug, eteplirsen. Gaia reveals The European Space Agency released the largest, most detailed star map yet of the Milky Way on 14 September, in the first data release from its Gaia space observatory. The data suggest that the Milky Way is slightly bigger than previously estimated. See page 459 for more. Trial transparency Long-awaited US rules intended to crack down on the large number of clinical trials that are never reported were released on 16 September. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will require that researchers report the design and results of all clinical trials, and those who do not comply can be penalised. And the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) is imposing new rules on agency-funded work, including stricter reporting requirements for phase I trials. Both sets of laws go into effect in January. Separately, US vice-president Joe Biden announced that the NIH has developed a user-friendly registry for cancer trials. See page 450 for more. Value science Science should be valued more highly in international decision-making, argues a United Nations report released on 18 September. Prepared by the UN Scientific Advisory Board, the report says that policymakers should consider the role of science in policy and society more seriously when addressing issues such as sustainable development, climate change, food and water security and inequality. It also recommends that nations invest a greater fraction of gross domestic product in science, technology and innovation. State of the EU Research stands to do well out of the European Commission’s mid-term review of its budget for 2014–20. The review, released on 14 September, proposes freeing up €6.3 billion (US$7 billion) from budget reserves and other sources for programmes that foster job creation and address the refugee crisis. The Commission proposed allocating €400 million to top up its Horizon 2020 research-funding programme, and €200 million to strengthen its student exchange scheme Erasmus+. It also promised to unwind some of the red tape that comes with its grants. The proposals require approval by the European Parliament and Council of Ministers. Chinese space lab China has launched its second orbiting space lab — marking another step towards the country’s goal of building a space station by the early 2020s. Tiangong 2 (meaning ‘heavenly palace’) launched on a Long March rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi desert on 15 September (pictured). It will initially fly uncrewed in low-Earth orbit, but a planned second launch will carry two astronauts to it in November. The 8-tonne module carries several scientific experiments, including a γ-ray detector. Nuclear go-ahead The UK government approved the building of an £18-billion (US$23-billion) nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in southwest England on 15 September, seven weeks after it put a surprise brake on the project. The government had said that it needed time to review the deal, which is being funded two-thirds by French energy company EDF and one-third by China. Hinkley Point C will be the first new UK nuclear plant this century, and it is expected to meet 7% of UK electricity demand. The government says that it has imposed national-security safeguards on the deal. New GSK chief GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will become the only major global drug firm to be led by a woman. The company announced on 20 September that Emma Walmsley, head of its consumer-health-care division, will replace Andrew Witty as the company’s chief executive. Witty, one of the biggest names in the industry, will stand down in March 2017. Cosmic upgrade The Pierre Auger Observatory, a facility spread over 3,000 square kilometres in Argentina that aims to reveal the origins of ultra-high-energy cosmic rays, began a US$14-million upgrade on 15 September. The improvements should enable it to tell apart different types of cosmic ray. Sensors called scintillators are being added to each of the observatory’s Cherenkov detectors (water tanks) to measure the ratio of electrons and muons that rain down when a cosmic ray hits the atmosphere above. That, in turn, will improve estimates of the mass of the particles that make up these rays. Million-dollar prize The first winners of a set of US$1-million prizes awarded for research done in China were announced on 19 September. The Future Science Prize for life sciences was awarded to pathologist Yuk Ming Dennis Lo at the Chinese University of Hong Kong for the discovery that DNA from a fetus can be extracted from the mother’s blood, and for the non-invasive prenatal test it enabled. Qi-Kun Xue at Tsinghua University in Beijing won the physics prize for discovering experimentally the quantized anomalous Hall effect (an unusual motion of electrons in a conductor at low temperature) and high-temperature superconductivity at material interfaces. The prizes, billed in Chinese media as ‘China’s Nobels’, are funded by Robin Li, head of China’s Internet giant Baidu, and other business executives. Agriculture merger Agricultural biotech giant Monsanto has accepted a US$66-billion takeover bid by Bayer, a health-care and chemical company in Leverkusen, Germany. The deal, announced on 14 September, could reshape the agricultural technology industry, which has recently seen the consolidation of several large companies. The combined firm will be headquartered in St Louis, Missouri, and have a research-and-development budget of about €2.5 billion (US$2.8 billion). The deal has yet to be approved by regulators and Monsanto shareholders, but is expected to be finalized by the end of 2017. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses distil articles on similar research into what is meant to be an authoritative take on a topic. But valuable work is being diluted by a torrent of “unnecessary” articles, according to a report by a leading meta-researcher. The number of such studies added to PubMed each year is more than 27 times what it was in 1991 (J. P. A. Ioannidis Milbank Q. 94, 485–514; 2016). The increase might stem from articles intended to increase citations, or to serve as marketing tools, the report says. 27 September–7 October The International Civil Aviation Organization discusses aircraft emissions at its summit in Montreal, Canada. go.nature.com/2d1bmty
News Article | February 16, 2017
MISSISSAUGA, Ontario, Feb. 16, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Toronto Spring Camping & RV Show producers are gearing up to provide MORE FUN and your BEST NEW RV SHOPPING OPPORTUNITY at the last RV & Camping Show of the season! Here’s what we have lined up for the BIG ONE in 2017! Campgrounds and Camping Products Talk to campground owners, camping product vendors and more! More Great RV Products and Services! Featuring: RV Insurance, RV Rentals, Sunrooms, Golf Carts, Pet Treats, Leather Goods & Accessories, Water Toys, Camping Cookware, Dishes & Storage, Fire Pits, Solar Technology, RV Mats, RV Magazines and much more! Fish TV – Hosts Leo Stakos, Ron James and Jeff Chisholm will be on-site for the duration of the show. They will be available to sign autographs and take pictures with their fans – remember to bring your cameras! Toyota – Official Truck Sponsor, displaying of their new trucks My Custom Sports Chair – Official Show Sponsor offering special show pricing on customized sports chairs! $50 OFF when you purchase a custom sports chair at the show! GO RVing Canada Activity Zone to keep the family entertained! March of Dimes Madness sponsored by Wayfarer Insurance - Support the March of Dimes “Campers Helping Campers” program by donating $2 to try and get the top basketball score in 30 seconds for a chance to win a TV! TV will be awarded to the top score at the end of the show on Sunday March 5th. Parks Canada Pavillion - Experience Parks Canada and get your free Discovery Pass at The Toronto Spring Camping & RV Show and Sale! On-site Financing offered by RBC, TD Auto Finance and National Bank of Canada. Daily Show Seminars Andy Thomson – RV Hitch Hints Peter Bristow - RV Cleaners & Treatments Shane Devenish – RVing for beginners - RV Lifestyle for New Campers Fish TV Kidz Zone – not just for kids! Chance to Win Your Payments paid for up to 12 months on the purchase of your new Recreational Vehicle at the show (Up to $5000 OAC)! Chance to win 1 of 8 Truma LevelChecks! Know the level of your propane gas cylinder in a second! Reliable measurement using ultrasound with integrated LED flashlight. Chance to win a new Custom Sports Chair! Win and customize your own sports chair! Chance to win Family Camping Weekend Passes to Havelock Country Music Jamboree and Haverock Music Revival! Admission Price Specials Half price Thursday and Friday only $7.50 Saturday and Sunday On-Line special $14.00 Saturday and Sunday – At the Door $15.00 Media Passes Email Shannon.firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to attend the show. Parking is always FREE The entire International Centre parking lot is available for the BIG ONE and is always free to park. Entrances There are three entrances into the BIG ONE. Hall 1, Halls 2/3 and Hall 5. The Toronto Spring Camping & RV Show and Sale is the largest consumer RV Show in Canada and the only RV Show promoted by the Canadian Recreational Vehicle Association is held annually at The International Centre in Mississauga. Learn more about the BIG RV SHOW at www.torontospringcampingrvshow.com or call us at 905-336-8949.
News Article | October 28, 2016
CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - Oct. 28, 2016) - The Government of Canada is committed to growing the economy and the middle class, and helping those working hard to join it. Through the Build in Canada Innovation Program (BCIP), the Government of Canada is investing in Canadian innovations to create inclusive and sustainable economic growth for communities across Canada. The Honourable Judy M. Foote, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, today announced that the Government of Canada is investing in four made-in-Canada innovations. RallyEngine Inc. received a $224,774 contract for its app-based communications platform, which allows organizations to efficiently locate, alert and inform widespread personnel in real-time. This app can be used by first responders and other officials to communicate with the public during crisis situations. The testing of this innovation is being conducted by the Town of High River, Alberta, on behalf of Public Services and Procurement Canada. New Energy Corporation Inc. received a $494,033 contract for its EnviroGen hydrokinetic turbine. The innovation generates electricity from streams with little environmental impact. This green power-generating system can increase local self-reliance in remote areas and reduce the use of fossil fuels by using a clean, renewable resource. The testing of this innovation is being conducted by the Sagkeeng First Nation in Fort Alexander, Manitoba, on behalf of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. Userful Corporation received a $394,622 contract for its display management system. The innovation, SideSeat, allows users to control and manage touch-screens from a single standard computer with a web browser. The innovation is inexpensive and is able to manage a large number of screens from one central operating system. The testing of this innovation is being conducted by the Kingston Frontenac Public Library on behalf of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. Golden Environmental Mat Services received a $482,054 contract for its SmartMat GPS management system. The SmartMat allows users to accurately track the location of their construction mats and their performance throughout an entire construction project. Construction mats are used as structural roadways to provide passage over unstable ground. The testing of this innovation is being conducted by Parks Canada at Waterton Lakes National Park. These investments were made through the BCIP, which helps Canadian innovators land their first sale and get their innovations tested by the Government of Canada. This program is just one of the many ways the Government of Canada supports innovation and small and medium-sized businesses across Canada. Canadian innovators can submit their proposals for the BCIP on the program's website. "Our government is committed to investing in Canadian businesses and communities. These businesses are developing innovative, cutting-edge products in their industries while strengthening the economy. Fostering made-in Canada innovations is essential to support the middle class and those working hard to join it." The Honourable Judy M. Foote, Minister of Public Services and Procurement "Through the Build in Canada Innovation Program, we were able to match and test our mobile technology with High River to enhance community capacity and facilitate volunteerism. Public Services and Procurement Canada has been tremendously supportive of our innovative and inclusive approach to community engagement and public safety." "New Energy is excited to be at the forefront of microhydro power generation with support from the Build in Canada Innovation Program. BCIP's investment in our project will help bring clean renewable power technology and self-sufficiency to the Sagkeeng First Nation in northern Manitoba while creating new engineering jobs in the Calgary market. This project has also been instrumental in our product development and subsequent growth into global markets from Europe to Southeast Asia to Africa. We look forward to the Canadian Government's continued support as we continue to innovate and expand New Energy's capabilities to include remote community capacity building both in Canada and in developing nations worldwide." "Userful is very pleased to be a supplier to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada through the BCIP. The government's support of innovation is helping diversify the Alberta economy and build new green technology." "Golden Environmental Mat Services (GEMS) is eager to supply Parks Canada with an innovative environmental access mat program. By testing our innovation through the BCIP, we are able to help maintain and improve ecological integrity within Waterton Lakes National Park. GEMS will work closely with the Environmental Assessment Team at Parks Canada, which is responsible for ensuring that construction projects do not create unnecessary disturbance."
News Article | December 22, 2016
At the top of the globe in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, near the North Pole, a thin layer of soil above the permafrost thaws for just three months each year. When it does, the tundra bursts into bloom. The flowers are favorite summer foods of the Peary caribou, Rangifer tarandus pearyi, a petite, white-bearded subspecies of reindeer. With their noses stained red from the flowers of purple saxifrage, they are truly red-nosed reindeer in the summer. But foraging for flowers under summer’s midnight sun is a short-lived luxury. Finding food in winter has always been harder, and climate change is only making the problem worse. Climate is changing twice as quickly in the Arctic compared to the global average. As winters get warmer and wetter, precipitation that falls as rain and then freezes on the ground is increasingly trapping the animals’ food below a crust of ice. Furthermore, declining sea ice is hampering their ability to move from island to island to find enough to eat. Set against a myriad of other ecological challenges, these environmental shifts are putting considerable pressure on the Peary caribou. But the latest scientific findings are informing conservation efforts and provide some reasons to be optimistic about its future. It’s tough to precisely track the number of Peary caribou in Canada’s vast northern reaches. From the piecemeal data that do exist, scientists estimate that 13,200 adult Peary caribou now roam the Arctic Archipelago. That’s more than the 1996 estimate of 5,400 individuals, a low point attributed to winter die-offs from unusually deep snow and food shortages due to ice. But current numbers are still less than the 22,000 estimated in 1987. And although a recent modest rise in numbers prompted the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada to suggest down-listing the Peary caribou’s status from endangered to threatened in 2015, scientists are concerned that populations might not be able to rebound to historic sizes if the environment changes too much. One particular weather pattern is freezing the Peary caribou’s assets. The reindeer can forage just fine in snow, provided it is not too deep, nosing through the powder to reach the underlying vegetation. But as the Arctic warms, precipitation increasingly takes the form of rain. When rain falls onto snow in the High Arctic winter, it creates a sticky situation that soon freezes solid. The ice that forms on the soggy snow’s surface or in layers below can prevent Peary caribou from accessing the plants they need to survive. Even if the animals survive these difficult freezing events by finding alternate foods, or moving elsewhere, these dips in dietary intake may have consequences in the breeding season. “Females need a certain level of fat in order to reproduce in the spring,“ says Cheryl Johnson of Environment and Climate Change Canada, the country’s environmental science agency. During particularly harsh winters, with deep snow or rain on snow followed by icing, the number of Peary caribou calves observed the following spring can drop to zero. Scientists have long debated the impact of these rain-on-snow and subsequent icing events on Rangifer tarandus—the species called caribou in North America and reindeer in Europe and Asia. In 2010, Nicholas Tyler, a reindeer researcher at the Center for Sami Studies at the University of Tromsø in Norway, published an analysis of all of the available data for rain-on-snow events in North America and Eurasia. He found little evidence for rain on snow being universally dire for caribou and reindeer. It’s an idea that over time, he says, achieved mythical status amongst researchers based on what he calls “enthusiastic interpretation of sometimes meager field data.” He says rain on snow may be important in some populations some of the time, but not in all populations all of the time. Now, though, advances in data analysis from remote sensing are allowing a more rigorous look at how rain on snow and icing affects reindeer. Previously no one had actually examined whether rain-on-snow events had become more frequent in Canada’s High Arctic, Johnson explains. So she and her colleagues at NASA and at Canadian universities in Quebec and Ontario used satellite data to detect and quantify rain-on-snow and icing events across 18 High Arctic islands. They then assessed how well those occurrences aligned with caribou numbers. One of Johnson’s collaborators, remote sensing expert Alexandre Langlois of the University of Sherbrooke, notes that rain-on-snow and icing events can be detected using passive microwave radiography data collected by satellites since 1979 to image the earth. How can satellites detect ground-level phenomena? “Everything that has temperature emits thermal energy,” Langlois explains. The ground emits microwave radiation and snow scatters the signal. “But when you add water from rain, it changes the pattern completely,” he says. Computational algorithms developed by Langlois with University of Sherbrooke colleague Caroline Dolant and others can now detect rain periods, melt periods and ice patterns from the twice-daily satellite passes. Those data provide nearly four decades of coverage for the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, which, although limited for a climate record, is “one of the longest satellite time series that is available,” Langlois says. Examining the microwave data, Johnson and her colleagues found a clear signal that rain-on-snow and icing events have increased in frequency since 1979. Areas with rain-on-snow increases in winter coincided with areas with decreases in caribou numbers the following summer, though it is unclear whether caribou declines reflect mortality or emigration to other areas outside the monitored range. Nevertheless, “if we can understand where these [rain-on-snow and icing] events occur, the frequency of that occurrence, and how spatially that might change through time, then we can assess which areas are at less of a risk,” Johnson says. The next step is to generate maps with finer scale data that can help conservation managers focus their efforts on lower rain on snow and icing areas where Peary caribou are more likely to thrive. Rain on snow and icing are not the Peary caribou’s only challenges, however. Although these reindeer lack flippers and other traits associated with ocean-faring creatures such as whales, Peary caribou are, in fact, marine mammals. For centuries they have trekked from island to island across the sea ice in search of food. Now that sea ice is disappearing. Forming later and thawing earlier each year, the caribou’s inter-island highways are fading away. In addition to keeping the caribou from reaching food sources, the loss of the ice highways could jeopardize the animals in another way. A new study published in 2016 in Biology Letters by Trent University doctoral student Deborah Jenkins and her collaborators analyzed Peary caribou tissue, antler and fecal samples collected across the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Combining genetic analysis with remote sensing and climate change projections, they found evidence that Peary caribou in the Arctic Archipelago already have less gene flow between populations than continental caribou (a different subspecies) in the lower Arctic mainland. The authors predict that reduced bridging between islands in future will further limit Peary caribou gene flow because isolated populations have fewer opportunities interbreed. But Johnson says that much more work needs to be done to understand where, when and how many Peary caribou cross the sea ice in order to determine what the loss of that ice may mean. And it is not only loss of sea ice itself that may impact Peary caribou crossings: as Arctic waters open up, shipping traffic is increasing, with unknown effects on these animals. Climate change is just one of a multitude of factors affecting Peary caribou numbers. Fluctuations in population sizes of predatory wolves and polar bears, as well as still poorly understood interactions with herbivorous musk oxen that may compete for similar food, could also impact this small reindeer. At this point, no one is certain if the current upswing in Peary caribou numbers is part of the natural cycle of things, Johnson says. In her research, Johnson collaborates closely with Inuit community members and indigenous knowledge has been integrated into every aspect of her research, from helping to develop hypotheses to mapping caribou habitat and identifying where and when they cross the ice. “Without their knowledge we would have very, very little information,” Johnson observes. Indigenous knowledge, she explains, suggests that Peary caribou numbers have always fluctuated wildly through time. The current low numbers may thus be part of a very long-term natural cycle that will eventually usher in larger numbers. Caribou researcher Micheline Manseau of the government agency Parks Canada, shares Johnson’s cautious optimism about the fate of the Peary caribou. Even with the predicted eventual loss of most sea ice, it’s not the first time in their evolutionary history that these caribou have had to change their movement patterns. There is evidence that some of Peary populations have gone through genetic bottlenecks in the past. Manseau suspects the creature will be able to thrive on the larger islands, which can be more than twice the size of Maine. Other evidence supports this hopeful outlook for Canada’s diminutive, red-nosed reindeer, too. Carbon dating of ancient poop suggests that Norway’s Svalbard reindeer, which are similar in many ways to their Peary cousins, arrived on their now isolated Arctic archipelago 5,000 years ago. Crossing the sea ice from Eurasia, and becoming stranded there some time later, the Svalbard reindeer are “living proof,” Tyler says, “that these island populations can exist for a long time.”
News Article | February 15, 2017
The celebrations of the 39th edition of Winterlude continue, along with the many other activities being offered once again this weekend. Here's what awaits visitors from February 10 to 12. For the latest information and any changes or cancellations, check our calendar of events, Facebook page or Twitter feed. Confederation Park will once again be filled with beautiful sculptures and radiant smiles this weekend. Professional ice carvers will face off in the Ice-Carving Competition, and the Garden will also feature the popular Public Challenge ice-carving contest. Saturday will feature the Canada 150 signature concert, part of the Sub-Zero Concert Series. On stage will be DJ Dash, the Dakhká Khwáan Dancers, Sarah MacDougall, Elisapie, Johnny Issaluk and David Serkoak. The evening will conclude with a performance by DJ Sandy Duperval. Visitors can choose from several activities to make the most of winter. The celebrations continue in Marion Dewar Plaza, just metres away from Confederation Park. This weekend, visitors can enter the Here's My Canada video contest, a nationwide project by Historica Canada, and attend an indoor military music concert at Jean Pigott Place. Most of the activities featured in the opening weekend will also be continuing. These include the OLG skating shows with special guest Liam Firus and DJ Rodrigo in the OLG Bubble, the percussion group Baratanga!, the European Union's 50-block ice sculpture, and events celebrating ringette in Canada. Visitors will have lots to discover again this weekend in the Snowflake Kingdom. New events include Joie de vivre! (presented by Outaouais Tourism, Gatineau 2017 and the Salon du livre de l'Outaouais), where families can take part in craft workshops and a drawing contest and meet a comic book artist. They can also dance and sing along to traditional music with Louis Racine and his musicians in a cozy setting at Maison Charron, and also play with musical bicycles that let riders remix songs by their favourite musicians as they pedal. Visitors will have lots of options for fun with friends and family. This Saturday is the 37th Accora Village Bed Race, a Winterlude classic, on the Rideau Canal Skateway. Close to 50 teams have entered this year's race with modified beds-definitely an impressive spectacle! There will also be contests, including one for the best costume. Activities featured in the opening weekend will also continue. Here's what visitors can expect: The Nokia Rest Area (at Concord Street) and the CIBC Rest Area (at Fifth Avenue) will once again provide the perfect spot to take a break and be entertained by jugglers, acrobats and other entertainers. Winterlude Partners: More Programming than Ever! This year, nearly 50 partners have come together to make Winterlude richer and more entertaining than ever. Here are a few of the activities taking place over the second weekend of Winterlude at various places in Ottawa and Gatineau. Canadian Heritage is proud to present Winterlude with the support of the following official sponsors and site partners: CIBC, OLG - Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission, Metro, Ville de Gatineau, City of Ottawa, National Capital Commission, Enbridge, Nokia, Giant Tiger, Fairmont Château Laurier, The Westin Ottawa, Lord Elgin, Parks Canada, Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa Art Gallery, TakingITGlobal, Historica Canada, OC Transpo and many others, including the region's tourism sector. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
News Article | February 16, 2017
Don't miss CIBC Shinny Hockey Day, North America's first Ice Dragon Boat Festival, and the birthdays of our mascots Noumi and Nouma! The third and final weekend of the 39th Winterlude is already here. Put on your snow pants and your boots or skates to enjoy, one last time, the many activities being offered from February 17 to 20. For the latest information and any changes or cancellations, check our calendar of events, Facebook page or Twitter feed. To bring the 39th Winterlude to a close, no less than three evening shows of the Sub-Zero Concert Series will take place this weekend at Confederation Park. On Friday, visitors will be able to watch the Acadia show, featuring Annie Blanchard, Jean-François Breau, Maxime McGraw and Joannie Benoit. DJ iLon will heat up the crowd at the end of the evening. On Saturday, well-known singer David Usher will take the stage, followed by DJ Daniel "D-Noy" Desnoyers. On Sunday, Alex Nevsky, La Voix Junior winner Charles Kardos and finalist Brenden MacGowan, and Scott Helman will entertain audiences to close out this winter celebration. Here's what visitors can expect during the day before attending the shows: Families can also have fun just metres away from Confederation Park in Marion-Dewar Plaza, near Ottawa City Hall. There they'll find the Gloucester Skating Club during the OLG skating shows, along with DJ Rodrigo in the OLG Bubble; the highly anticipated Ottawa Senators alumni hockey game; and interactive hockey games. Many of the activities offered during the previous weekends will be presented once again to give visitors even more choices, including the outstanding percussion group Baratanga! On Sunday, February 19, at 12:30, everyone is invited to celebrate the birthdays of Noumi and Nouma, the Ice Hog family twins, in the Snowflake Kingdom! Children will also be delighted by the tale of "The Origins of the Snowman," which will be told on an outdoor stage throughout the weekend. Once again, people of all ages will be able to take part in a wide range of activities: On Saturday, Winterlude will host North America's first Ice Dragon Boat Festival! If you'll be in Canada's Capital Region, this is an event you won't want to miss. With nearly 150 simultaneous hockey games taking place on the Rideau Canal Skateway, CIBC Shinny Hockey Day offers even more excitement. Activities featured during previous weekends will also continue. Here's what visitors can expect: The Nokia Rest Area (at Concord Street) and the CIBC Rest Area (at Fifth Avenue) will once again provide the perfect spot to meet or take a break and be entertained by jugglers, acrobats and other entertainers. Winterlude Partners: More programming than Ever! This year, nearly 50 partners have come together to make Winterlude richer and more entertaining than ever. Here are some activities that will take place at various locations in Ottawa and Gatineau from February 17 to 20: Canadian Heritage is proud to present Winterlude with the support of the following official sponsors and site partners: CIBC, OLG - Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission, Metro Ontario, Ville de Gatineau, City of Ottawa, National Capital Commission, Enbridge, Nokia, Giant Tiger, Fairmont Château Laurier, The Westin Ottawa, Lord Elgin, Parks Canada, Canadian Museum of Nature, Students on Ice Foundation, Music Yukon, Bytown Museum, Delegation of the European Union to Canada, Ottawa Art Gallery, TakingITGlobal, Historica Canada, OC Transpo and many others, including the region's tourism sector. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
News Article | February 15, 2017
A herd of plains bison have been successfully reintroduced to Canada's oldest national park, more than 100 years after they were nearly hunted out of existence. The 16 bison were moved to the Banff National Park in Alberta last week. On Monday officials said the transfer had gone smoothly and the animals were adapting well to their new home. The move will restore their role in the park's ecosystem, officials say, and has been welcomed by indigenous groups. The bison will be kept under observation in an enclosed pasture of the park in the foothills of the Rockies until the summer of 2018, Parks Canada officials say. The animals were once the dominant grazers in the park, in addition to being spiritually significant to Canada's aboriginal groups, supplying them with food, clothing and shelter. The herd will eventually be released into a far wider area of the park where they will be at liberty to interact with other native animals and search for food, The Calgary Herald reported. It said the hope is that natural barriers and wildlife fencing will stop the bison from wandering astray. "By returning plains bison to Banff National Park, Parks Canada is taking an important step toward restoring the full diversity of species and natural processes to the park's ecosystems while providing new opportunities for Canadians and visitors to connect with the story of this iconic species," Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said. At one time, there were as many as 30 million bison on the plains but they were hunted almost to extinction with only a handful remaining in government-controlled areas.
News Article | November 11, 2016
Forest fires seem scary, but they're not always a bad thing. The Environmental Commissioner explains why they're desperately needed in Ontario's boreal north. Forest fires are not always a bad thing. In fact, the constant suppression and fighting of forest fires have created problems in the boreal forest of northern Ontario that worry the province’s Environmental Commissioner. In her annual report, Commissioner Diane Saxe recommended that Ontario let natural forest fires burn longer before put them out and that the province light more controlled fires. Such advice may sound counterintuitive, but it’s important to realize that fire plays an important role in the maintenance of healthy, resilient forests. It creates pasture for large animals like moose and caribou (whose populations are dropping). It clears out the brushy undergrowth to allow for faster, stronger regeneration. It softens the resin in jackpines’ cones and releases seeds for new trees. It can kill off pest populations, such as the pine beetle. It also creates a safety barrier for future fires that could occur. Timber companies are cited as one of the main reasons why forest fires have been suppressed in recent decades. They do not want prescribed burns taking place near their commercial timber stands, for fear of losing valuable trees. Another change has been the withdrawal of provincial government subsidies for prescribed burns. Whereas it used to cost foresters only $75 per hectare to conduct a burn, it now costs around $900. TVO reports: Another unfortunate consequence of fewer prescribed burns is loss of knowledge. Nearly three decades have passed since prescribed burns in Ontario’s north were standard procedure, which means that many of the people who conducted them are retiring. The knowledge of how to assist a forest’s regeneration is waning, although Parks Canada is trying to reinstate prescribed burns as part of its strategy for better managing the country’s national parks. “These fires are ignited by park staff. How they are managed is planned before-hand. Trained specialists decide when, where, and under what limits such fires will be permitted to burn. They consider weather, type of vegetation, fire behavior, and terrain in order to burn safely and meet ecological goals. "Prescribed fire involves some risk. However, it is less than the risk of letting wildfire burn unchecked or trying to exclude all fire. Decades of fire suppression have created a build-up of dead wood (fuel) in the forest. This can result in an extremely intense fire. We can lower this hazard by prescribed burning or thinning trees to reduce fuels around facilities and towns.” The importance of allowing forest fires really hit home for me this summer, while traveling through the Kootenay Rockies of eastern British Columbia. For two hours I drove past barren mountainsides where vast stands of lodgepole pines have been killed by pine beetles. Apparently this is the unintended consequence of fire suppression over the past half-century; it has allowed the trees to grow older than usual and provided a rich food source for beetles. The result is an epidemic of beetles that are killing the forest in a far more destructive way than a forest fire would. Mats Skolving -- The pine beetle has ravaged the lodgepole pines of Kootenay National Park in British Columbia/CC BY 2.0 The Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry has given an ambiguous response to the Commissioner’s report: “We’re continuing to do some prescribed burns in the province, but ultimately public safety is number one.”