From July 13-15, amazing educators, explorers, and scientists from across the country met at the Marine Institute of Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland for CaNOE’s National Symposium 2018: Navigating Canadian Ocean Literacy. It was a weekend filled with engaging conversations, thought-provoking workshops, and even a little Screech. From ocean data to advocacy to indigenous youth, we all learned something. Check out the recap below:
The conference kicked off with our first keynote, Dr. Wendy Watson-Wright from the Ocean Frontiers Institute. Dr. Watson-Wright set the stage for the weekend, highlighting the current state of ocean literacy in Canada and what the future holds.
After a coffee break, we re-grouped for our first workshop led by CaNOE co-chairs, Anne Stewart and Heather Murray, about Canadian Perspectives on Ocean Literacy. We broke into groups and discussed various ocean literacy topics, such as best practices for incorporating ocean literacy in school curriculums across Canada.
After a delicious lunch (thanks to the Marine Institute) we started presentations. Round one, about ocean literacy and culture, took us from snorkelling in the Arctic to fishing with young girls in Newfoundland, then to engaging Indigenous youth in BC, and to an amazing music video about sponges written with kids. It was fin-tastic, check it out.
The following session, ocean literacy in education and communication, focused on the importance of inquiry based learning, whether in the classroom, on a field trip, or online, and about how to create a connection to the ocean, even in the off season.
When the ocean literacy talk was “done”, some CaNOE members became true Newfoundlanders!
After a beautiful, sunny first day, Day 2 was met with typical Newfoundland weather, but that didn’t dampen our spirits! Diz Gilthero, PhD, our second keynote speaker, shared powerful stories from her experiences over the years with Students on Ice and aboard Canada C3 in 2017. Afterwards Diz and Shannon Harding led a workshop on the upcoming Canadian National Ocean Literacy Strategy. This led to a productive group brainstorming session about the various ocean organizations across Canada who might be interested in promoting ocean literacy and joining the Ocean Literacy Coalition.
We then held our Annual General Meeting and voted in our new board of directors (at the AGM we also voted to increase the term to two years from the previous one-year Board term). We were also happy to announce that CaNOE has signed a memorandum of understanding with Ocean Networks Canada and we look forward to continue our partnership with them into the future.
Following lunch, we continued with ocean literacy presentations, but now through the science and technology lens. Excellent presenters explained the importance of understanding marine renewable energy and what it takes to work and construct in harsh marine environments. Not only that, we also learned the importance of data sharing with real-time data and story maps, and finally how to work with underrepresented groups in STEM, such as GROOVE (Girls Remotely Operated Ocean Vehicle Exploration).
Our final set of presentations was all about ocean literacy, stewardship, and advocacy, including the importance of youth and even sea turtles promoting ocean literacy. We were then treated to a surprise live question and answer session with scientists aboard the EV Nautilus! It was a wonderful way to end our second day.
World Oceans Day was the theme for our final morning of the symposium. Dr. Carol Amaratunga introduced World Oceans Day, which was originally suggested by the government of Canada at the Earth Summit in 1992 in Brazil. We were then introduced to Oceans Week HFX by Alex Vance and Mo Phung, who then led a workshop, which hopefully inspired others to start Oceans Weeks in their own communities.
We were treated to a traditional Newfoundland Brunch with fish n’ brewis, fish cakes, and fried bolonga. With our bellies full of delicious food, we continued to an indigenous youth engagement and ocean literacy panel discussion. Youth representatives from the Inuit, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations, and Qalipu First Nations shared their stories and advice for the best way to engage indigenous youth.
The conference wrapped up with a final discussion and some crafting, as participants were able to create their own gyotaku print to take home as a keepsake. In the end we all gathered in the lobby to admire to art work we’d been working on all weekend with artist Jennifer MacLatchy. She collected marine debris and we all had the chance to help weave it through, resulting in a wave. A wave of change.
The conference was a great success. Seventy-two people enjoyed a fantastic three days – lots of presentations, networking, planning, and food for thought! Special thanks to our organizers, Kiley Best and Dawn Roche, for their hard work and dedication in planning this conference, to our committed co-chairs, Anne Stewart and Heather Murray, for continuing to keep the canoe afloat, to the Marine Institute for providing a superb venue for our symposium, to Ocean Networks Canada for being a outstanding symposium partner, to all of our marvelous sponsors, and finally to all our speakers and participants who joined us on the Rock.
Long may your big jib draw!