February 22, 2018 - 9:15am
Scholars tackle issues facing coastal communities at home and abroad
More students at Vancouver Island University (VIU) are going to have a chance to continue the work of building resilience in coastal communities thanks to $300,000 in new funding from the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships (QES) program.
The funding announcement made this week will support 18 VIU students to pursue international internships, and assist six international students from partner countries to pursue graduate studies and research at VIU – growing VIU’s network of scholars working on issues facing coastal communities.
“We’re excited to be expanding VIU’s engagement with coastal communities around the globe,” said Darrell Harvey, VIU’s Coordinator of International Projects and Internationalization. “Thanks to the QES program, VIU students are both contributing their skills and knowledge to partner communities abroad, as well as learning from their experiences to tackle issues here on Vancouver Island.”
Over the first three years of VIU’s QES program, 22 VIU students have travelled to partner countries, including VIU’s primary partners in Belize, to pursue internships and research. The program aims to develop global citizens, activate a new generation of leaders, enhance collaborative capacity and peer relationships, and enable scholars to pursue and amplify community development. VIU has also hosted seven international scholars from Belize who are completing their master’s degrees, building connections, and making an indelible mark on the fabric of the VIU community.
The expanded program will build on growing partnerships in the Caribbean, East Africa and elsewhere. In addition to the external funding, VIU will contribute more than $200,000 in in-kind resources. The Nanaimo Foundation will also contribute $5,000 to support students.
“The Nanaimo Foundation congratulates VIU on the exciting news that the Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship will continue at VIU,” said George Hanson, Chair of the Nanaimo Foundation. “The Nanaimo Foundation is proud to have contributed to this program at VIU over the past three years and we are delighted to announce that the Nanaimo Foundation is pledging financial support to the continuation of the program.”
Together, the new funding will support students such as Lainy Nowak, who was one of six students recently awarded QE scholarships from the last funding round, and will be setting off on research and internships in the coming months. They are the third cohort of VIU students to go abroad.
“I am incredibly honoured and humbled to be a Queen Elizabeth Scholar,” said Nowak, a Master of Community Planning student. “For me, this is an opportunity to represent my school, my program, and my community while fulfilling an aspiration for learning more about the world.”
Nowak will be working in Christchurch and Wellington, New Zealand to study the country’s response to the series of earthquakes that hit the region in 2011.
“Earthquakes, tsunamis and flooding are devastating coastal populations around the world and I plan to find out how we can effectively plan for and mitigate these disasters,” Nowak said. “My goal is to take the lessons I learn and apply them not just to Vancouver Island, but to other regions experiencing these threats. I believe that we are all global citizens that need to help each other.”
Avryl Brophy, Bachelor of Natural Resource Protection, is heading to Grenada with the goal of collecting data on local bird species and providing community education alongside a fellow QE Scholar from the University of Manitoba and local partners at St. George’s University. Kristina Vaudry and Sally Haynes will be working with Wechaui Hippo Sanctuary in Ghana on developing economically viable, sustainable tourism practices while Jamie Humphrey and Celina Glabus, Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies, will be working toward enhancing women’s rights in Kerala, India and Gordon’s Bay, South Africa.
“The work aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and is important because it encourages economic growth in a sustainable way,” Glabus said. “It promotes the fostering of long-term community development in coastal areas.”
The QES program is a collaborative initiative led by the Rideau Hall Foundation, Universities Canada and the Community Foundations of Canada, made possible thanks to contributions from the Government of Canada, provincial governments, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), universities, and a wide range of private sector donors. Launched in 2014, the QES program has engaged 44 universities in every province, with funding that will enable, in total, 3,000 scholars to participate in this global exchange of talent.
Aly Winks, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University