Government of Canada supports sustainable and culturally respectful resource development

The University of Lethbridge is receiving over $1.6 million in funding towards two projects to support sustainable and culturally respectful resource development. The announcement was made today by the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada.

Supporting sustainable and culturally respectful resource development boosts economic growth and creates well-paying jobs for all Canadians.

An investment of $1,195,805 will support the purchase of the Titan multi-spectral LIDAR (MSL) imaging system, a one-of-a-kind airborne 3D data collection sensor that will enable industry and academia to obtain data and capture high accuracy 3D images over long distances through traditionally inaccessible terrain, such as forest canopy and below water.

“The cutting edge airborne multi spectral laser scanner technology will help us monitor resource and environmental conditions impacted by climate change and natural disasters, as well as evaluate the risks to communities from hazards such as wildfire, floods and oil spills,” says Dr. Chris Hopkinson, research Chair and professor in the University’s Department of Geography.

This equipment will complement the U of L’s nationally unique Ecosystem Diagnostic Imaging (EDI) facility to enhance market readiness and validate MSL capabilities for companies in sectors such as oil and gas, forestry and agriculture. The project is anticipated to create 20 jobs for highly qualified personnel and assist 50 small- and medium-sized businesses. This investment demonstrates the Government of Canada’s commitment to promoting growth, long-term prosperity, innovation and global competitiveness.

“Our government is laying the foundation for Canadians to become more competitive and succeed in the global economy,” says Bains. “Today’s investments in the University of Lethbridge build on our competitive advantages and will result in new innovations for sustainable and culturally sensitive resource development, boosting economic growth and creating good, middle-class jobs for Canadians.”

The U of L, with co-management support from the Piikani First Nation (PFN), is also receiving $432,184 to develop and implement community-based environmental monitoring that integrates traditional Indigenous knowledge with emerging environmental monitoring technologies.

Indigenous graduate and undergraduate students from the University will be recruited as team leads to 15 Piikani youth who will be trained to collect, store and manage environmental and cultural data under the guidance of Elders. The project will increase PFN’s capacity to take advantage of environmental monitoring business and employment opportunities generated by regional natural resource extraction and industrial development. With this investment, the Government is taking concrete action to advance reconciliation and make a better future for Indigenous Peoples and all Canadians.

"The Community Based Environmental Monitoring (CBEM) project is a partnership project between the U of L and Piikani Nation that engages and trains community at all levels in the development, use and application of emerging monitoring technologies with the goal to promote self-sufficiency and efficacy and build community capacity,” says Dr. Michelle Hogue, associate professor and coordinator of the University’s First Nations Transition Program.

“Indigenous communities will benefit and greatly improve prospects for economic diversification by training individuals to collect, store and manage their own environmental and cultural data.”

Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan aims to build an economy in which Canadians have access to high-quality jobs and Canadian businesses are well-placed to participate in a rapidly evolving and competitive global marketplace.