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Students shadow environmental scientists

Katie May
Northern News Services
Published Monday, May 3, 2010

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - If she's going to realize her dream of becoming a polar bear biologist, Carmen Apples knows she'll have to get familiar with environmental impacts on ecosystems and be able to navigate her way around the inside of a lab.

NNSL photo/graphic

Students from across the Tlicho participated in INAC's science camp in Yellowknife April 21 to 23. From left, students Janelle Nitsiza and Joseph Moosenose Jr., from Whati; Bruno Simpson and Vincent Nasken, from Wekweeti; Eric Laboline, environmental co-ordinator for Deton'Cho/Nuna Joint Venture; Katrina Nokleby and George Lafferty, community consultation officer for INAC's contaminants and remediation directorate. - photo courtesy of Christina Gray

The Grade 11 student at Behchoko's Chief Jimmy Bruneau School got her first taste of what it's like to be a real scientist when she, along with about 14 other students from across the Tlicho region, had a chance to job shadow environmental scientists from the federal department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC). The scientists were in Yellowknife April 21 to 23 working on environmental cleanup and remediation projects on mine sites in the area and showed the students how to take water samples near Giant Mine and took them on a tour of Taiga lab, where water and soil samples are done.

Bill Mitchell, the acting director of INAC's contamination and remediation directorate, said the three-day science camp was an opportunity for students to see the kinds of jobs available in environmental science.

"It's just to give them a general idea of what an environmental scientist would do and it's really to help them make decisions about the future because it's difficult for folks in the communities to see what types of jobs might be out there," Mitchell said.

Being at the lab was Apples' favourite part, and she said she would like to spend even more time there.

"Sadly, no," the students didn't get to wear lab coats, Apples said, but she was happy to wear safety goggles while learning about water sampling.

"I learned about the impacts we have on the environment, in our homes and how we should treat the water," she said.

"We learned how the diamond mining is affecting our land."

All of that knowledge will come in handy as she pursues her biology studies, especially learning first hand that "our air isn't just being polluted by us, it's being polluted by everyone in the world, so whatever is sprayed or spread around the world is going to be affecting our animals."

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