Designing sustainable, safe and inclusive coastal communities in Atlantic Canada

Future Ocean News is a monthly newsletter produced by Ocean Frontier Institute’s Future Ocean and Coastal Infrastructures (FOCI) research project with the purpose of connecting team members, collaborators, partners, knowledge holders and users, disseminating research, highlighting the work of partners, increasing visibility of highly qualified personnel, and promoting FOCI’s and FOCI-related opportunities and events.

Research in the Making

Photo credit: Robert Brown

Search and Rescue in Remote Regions

Informing the design of search and rescue (SAR) infrastructure in a context of change

The Search and Rescue (SAR) system in Canada is both complex and effective, saving thousands of lives each year. FOCI’s Work Package on ‘Search and Rescue in Remote Regions’ led by Dr. Robert Brown informs on the expected performance of search and rescue (SAR) infrastructure as a whole in a context of change. Coastal regions of eastern Canada and the Arctic gateway are seeing increases in ship traffic every year—a trend that is expected to continue. This region is also known for its harsh and unpredictable conditions, which increase the risk to vessels and their passengers and crew. When SAR is required to assist with maritime emergencies, a range of decisions have to be made regarding deployment of assets and operational plans. Different tactical SAR planning models are used but to date, strategic planning models for examining overall system performance and the factors which most affect system performance have been limited in scope. Using mixed methods of analyzing and modelling existing data and integrating community-based research and engagement methods, the objective of this work package is to advance the state-of-the-art in strategic SAR modelling through an infrastructure lens.

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FOCI in Focus

‘Perceptions of Climate Change and Social Futures’: A Delphi Process Report

by FOCI team members Howard Ramos & Brenna Sobanski

The research team part of the FOCI project ‘Perceptions of Climate Change and Social Futures’ conducted a Delphi process, which is a technique for obtaining a consensus of opinion among a group of experts on a topic, to consult FOCI members on the needs for achieving climate change mitigation goals and key actors for climate change mitigation and adaptation in Atlantic Canada. Consulting 139 FOCI members from 66 organizations and institutions including government departments, to businesses and universities was a way to in involve people with a range of relevant expertise in our research. This report describes the Delphi process engaged and presents the results it generated. Overall, the results of the Delphi process point to the most important actions that should be taken and actors who are and should be involved in climate mitigation and adaptation. The results show a strong consensus around the importance of infrastructure and policy around climate change in Atlantic Canada.

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‘Perceptions of Environmental Change in Atlantic Canada’: Survey Report

by FOCI team members Rachel McLay & Howard Ramos

The research team part of the FOCI project ‘Perceptions of Climate Change and Social Futures’ conducted an online survey of Atlantic Canadians to learn how they relate to the natural environment in their communities and whether they perceive changes. This report examines the environmental changes Atlantic Canadians are seeing in their communities and explores how they feel about and respond to the changes they observe. According to the report and the Op Ed article published by Rachel McLay, Howard Ramos and Karen Foster, Atlantic Canadians say that “environment supersedes the economy”. They are not only highly attuned to and deeply concerned about changes in their local environment. Over 70 per cent of respondents have already noticed negative effects of climate change in their community and believe it is likely that they, personally, will be harmed by climate change in their lifetime. For that reason, the public is eager for bold climate action.

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Partner Spotlight

Ocean School

Ocean School, a joint initiative of Dalhousie University, the Ocean Frontier Institute, and the National Film Board of Canada, is a free, innovative inquiry-based learning experience geared towards students aged 11-15 years old and available online in English, French, and Spanish. Through the use of videos, virtual reality, augmented reality, and corresponding activities, Ocean School hopes to strengthen students’ personal connection to the ocean and empower the next generation of ocean citizens, researchers, and innovators.

In partnership with the FOCI project, Ocean School is collaborating with Homarus to create a video featuring a “Day in the Life of a Fisher” and a Choose Your Own Adventure interactive to help learners step into the shoes of a fisher and learn about the many social, economic, and conservation factors that shape decisions around fishing closures. Ocean School is also collaborating with FOCI researchers and community partners to create a video on equity and inclusion and hopes for the future of fishing in Newfoundland.

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Bright Future: Researcher Spotlight

Meet Dr. Gillian Kerr

Dr. Gillian Kerr joined the FOCI team at Dalhousie University in August 2020. She is working with the FOCI Work Package ‘Perceptions of Climate Change and Social Futures in Atlantic Canada’ team on collecting, analyzing and disseminating research on climate change perceptions across Atlantic Canada. Gillian is an adjunct faculty at Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC where she teaches environmental and ecological economics for decision-making. She recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship at McGill University in the RESNET research group on ecosystem service research and application across Canada. Her doctoral thesis, “Market-Based Approaches for Environmental Governance: Exploring the Implementation Gap in Alberta” explored governance issues that have impeded the application of MBIs for environmental objectives in Alberta. Her research interests include ecosystem services theory and application for sustainable communities, green infrastructure and the application of ecological economics to enhance sustainable futures. She has recently moved to Halifax from Edmonton, Alberta.

Research and involvement with FOCI

As part of FOCI's Work Package ‘Perceptions of Climate Change and Social Futures in Atlantic Canada’, effective and sustainable environmental policy and advocacy is based on knowing what people think and understanding how they perceive social and environmental issues. Our team has recently completed two surveys, a Delphi process and an online survey across Atlantic Canada on the Perception of Environmental Change. Gillian is currently leading the development of papers on social infrastructure and climate adaptation and the use of online surveying to reveal the perceptions of change, with a focus on rural Atlantic Canada. The aim of our work is to build citizen engagement and policy network infrastructure to help communities grapple with climate change and rapidly evolving ecosystems.

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Don’t Miss the Boat! Ongoing and Upcoming Events

4th World Small-Scale Fisheries Congress

A Series of five regional congresses in 2022

May - November, 2022

The 4th World Small-Scale Fisheries Congress (4WSFC) is a transdisciplinary forum for anyone interested in small-scale fisheries to participate in an interactive discussion about the world's small-scale fisheries. The 4WSFC will take place in five regions of the world in 2022, the International Year for Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture. The call for abstracts for 4WSFC Asia-Pacific is now open until October 15, 2021. The second congress, ‘4WSFC North America’, will be held in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador in June 2022.

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Ocean Frontier 2022: Vision for the Future Conference

Ocean Frontier Institute’s Biennial Conference

May 16-19, 2022

The Ocean Frontier Institute's third biennial conference will take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia on May 16-19, 2022. The purpose of the Vision for the Future Conference is to highlight the work of OFI researchers and partners focusing on ocean sciences and social sciences, technology development and innovation. OFI supports various events — from workshops to lectures and community-based activities — that provide learning opportunities about our ocean. Save the date and stay tuned for more details!

An Ocean of Opportunities

Être étudiant-e du PhiLab / Being a PhiLab student

PhiLab Student Opportunities

Community-engaged research and philanthropy


The Canadian Philanthropy Partnership Research Network (PhiLab), is a Canadian research Network on philanthropy with a head office in Montreal, on the campus of Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM), and several hubs including one in Atlantic Canada. There are many opportunities for students working on community-engaged research available at PhiLab, including: (i) research assistantships and funding; (ii) publishing content (blog/newsletter articles, interviews, book reviews, event coverage, etc.); (iii) joining an extensive network of philanthropy sector actors, academics and your peers; and (iv) participation in events. To learn more about PhiLab and opportunities, watch this introductory video outlining what it means to be a PhiLab student, as well as this presentation and slides of the many opportunities available. You may also check their website to learn about other projects, members, partners and upcoming events, as well as follow them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Academia. Contact PhiLab Coordinator Sondra Eger ( if you are interested in joining as a student, or contributing a piece to their newsletter.

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Virtual Workshops

Women in Resource Development Corporation

September 2021 - March 2022

Women in Resource Development Corporation (WRDC) is offering a series of free online workshops on the following themes: ‘Creating a Respectful Workplace’, ‘Diversity, Inclusion and You’, and a new workshop on ‘Inclusive Leadership’. Workshops will take place from September 2021 to March 2022, and are scheduled for 9:00 am - 12:00 pm NST. WRDC is a provincial non-profit organization committed to increasing women's participation in trades and technology.

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Seed Fund

Ocean Frontier Institute

Apply by September 30, 2021

Do you have an ocean-related project that offers high potential to catalyze innovation success? Do you need a small amount of funding to help it move forward — and grow? OFI’s Seed Fund supports innovative projects that have the potential to advance research, commercial or social concepts relating to the ocean. To qualify, applicants must be current faculty, staff, technicians, postdocs, or students at Dalhousie University, Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador, University of Prince Edward Island, and/or University of New Brunswick (*as of July 30, 2021).

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Navigating new waters

FOCI Knowledge Mobilization Coordinator Mirella Leis has accepted a new position with Ocean Wise, a Canadian-based not for profit conservation organization on a mission to protect and restore the oceans while empowering communities to take action. While transitioning into her new role, Tasha Olekshy will be stepping in to work with the FOCI Core team to ensure the Consortium stays engaged and connected. Tasha is a recent Master of Arts - Environmental Policy graduate from Memorial University and is looking forward to assisting with FOCI’s communications and knowledge mobilization initiatives.

Mirella Leis
Tasha Olekshy

About FOCI

The Future Ocean and Coastal Infrastructures (FOCI) program is facilitating innovative transdisciplinary research and outreach focused on the creative co-design of infrastructures to prepare for change and build safe, sustainable and inclusive communities in Atlantic Canada.

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Research Funding was provided by the Ocean Frontier Institute, through an award from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund


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