Organizers of the NWT and Nunavut Geoscience Symposium are eager to hear from some of the best minds in geology and mineral research at the Nov. 23 event in Yellowknife.

The symposium replaces the longstanding Yellowknife Geoscience Forum, which was cancelled in July due to Covid-19, before the 48th edition took place this month.

Hosted by the NWT Geological Survey and the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines, the symposium will be scaled down compared to the forum.

Tim Ensom, left, a graduate student from Wilfred Laurier University, and Ed Grozic, a Calgary-based permafrost engineer with Tetra Tech Canada, took part in the NWT Geoscience Forum in 2019 at the Capitol Theatre. The event will look much different this year as there is to be only livestreamed, pre-recorded presentations and PDF posters.
NNSL file photo

The day will feature 42 pre-recorded oral presentations and 18 PDF posters that can be downloaded on the symposium’s website at when it goes live on Nov. 23.

Themes this year will include energy geoscience, environmental science, geoscience, mineral exploration, permafrost science and regulatory updates.

The event has also drawn representation from institutions such as the University of Alberta, the Geological Survey of Canada, University of Calgary, University of Ottawa, Golder and Associates, Queen’s University, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Hebrew University, among others.

Among the highlights of the event will be Steven Kokelj’s presentation titled The Thermokarst Environments of Northwestern Canada.

“I’m actually pretty jazzed about this taking place and I think it is nice to see it even going on,” said Sarah Gervais, geosciences editor with the NWT Geological Survey. “People are interested and want to be engaged and want to share information.

“People out there still view this event as important and see that there is still a need to do it. We were really not sure how many were going to be interested and we had just put it out there and crossed our figures that it would work out.”

Gervais said there’s no doubt the proceedings will be much different from previous years and, in some respects, not for the better due to pandemic restrictions. In a normal year, in-person presentations would total close to 150 during the event.

The NWT Max Awards, which closed out the 47th Geoscience Forum last year, took place at the Explorer Hotel and drew 220 delegates. The event will be among the cancellations this year due to Covid-19 public health restrictions.
NNSL file photo

What has ensued poses a significant setback to what the forum is geared to do: encourage professional networking and in-person knowledge-sharing in the mineral science and geology fields.

“You don’t get to network and networking is a big part of it,” Gervais acknowledged, noting that when people in industry, Indigenous groups or from academia are mingling, it can lead to opportunities for mentorship in a field, funding for studies and research or future collaborations.

“Networking is really important for academics, and the sentimental thing with the science is not getting to network,” she said.

Trade show and NWT Max Awards 

Typically the Geoscience Forum is highlighted by the trade show at the Multiplex and the NWT Max Awards, which includes a large dinner and awards ceremony at the Explorer Hotel. Neither will proceed this year.

Usually the trade show attracts more than 100 booths or displays and draws from the presentations as a “mixing ground where people can network or show off their businesses,” said Tom Hoefer, executive director of the Chamber of Mines.

That event also allows industry professionals to hold other networking activities, such as Coffee With Cabinet, where politicians and professionals can meet directly.

As for the awards and dinner, last year, 220 people turned out for the dinner and awards night, which was highlighted by guest speaker Bruce Anderson of Abacus Data and freshly-elected Premier Caroline Cochrane and then-minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment Katrina Nokleby.

NWT politicians sent a message of commitment to the struggling mineral industry at the time.

“It would be something of a disappointment that we have had to cancel the two events – the trade show and Max awards – but Covid being what it is, and the escalation of it, we were unable to do it,” said Hoefer.


Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. A through and through "County boy" from Prince Edward County, Ont., Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin...

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