The 13th Annual Urban Issues Film Festival A Great Success!

The 13th Annual Urban Issues Film Festival, on the theme of “Resilience in the Face of Climate Change,” was possibly our most successful to date. There were about 110 people at the beginning, a very festive pizza dinner a couple of hours later, and an inspiring keynote by activist, author, and futurist Guy Dauncey. Both Guy’s talk and the films were well-received, and discussion was spirited. The volunteers from Geography, Community Planning, and other faculties and departments made a great team, meeting weekly during the months leading up to the event to design and plan its every aspect.

Sponsors included the Geography Department, the Geographic Students’ Union, the Planning Institute of BC (North Island chapter), and Master of Community Planning (MCP) Students’ Association. Geography, the GSU, and MCP all contributed financially, as did the Faculty of Social Sciences and VIU’s Sustainability Advisory Committee (SAC).

A subsequent showing, during WorldVIU Days, of “Metamorphosis” by Nova Ami and Velcrow Ripper, also attracted a healthy crowd of 60 to 70, and featured a workshop on the film’s themes the next night. The film showing was sponsored by Awareness of Climate Change through Education and Action (ACER) and SAC. All in all it was a great round of events focusing on the clear and present danger posed by climate change and what can be done about it.

Canada’s first national Marine Wildlife Area in the Scott Islands

A blast from a career past surfaced this summer for the Geography Department's newest faculty member, Michele Patterson. And this news is something to celebrate:

Environment and Climate Change Canada has just announced the creation of Canada’s first national Marine Wildlife Area in the Scott Islands off the northwest tip of Vancouver Island. This marine protection area is over 11,000 square km and is focused on seabird protection.

Michele Patterson previously worked as a Director for World Wildlife Fund Canada (2001-2009) and was involved in the early work that led to today’s designation. She reflects on the fact that the process to get this Marine Wildlife Area completed took 17 years! “We have a constant challenge in Canada with getting large marine protected areas completed due to: the diverse visions of stakeholders, the complexity of science and research, and our unwieldy, multi-jurisdictional policy environment. We definitely need to get better at conservation planning in order to protect important natural environments.” Michele teaches about these challenges and others in Geog 356 (Policy, Resources and Sustainability). Geography 356 is offered next in Spring 2019, and there are still some seats available.

Scott Islands marine National Wildlife Area

2018 Winners of our Geography Department Awards

Congratulations to all of our 2018 Geography Department award winners!

  • Geography Research Day Best Presentation: Trevor Dickinson
  • Award for Service to the Geography Department: Kayla Harris
  • Carto Cup 2018: Lena Ware
  • CAG Undergraduate Award: Trevor Dickinson
  • Lady Rose Award: Jessica Pyett
  • Also: NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award: Trevor Dickinson

VIU Geography Students Research Barriers to Bio-Diesel Use

“What stops a person from adopting a change in their business operations, and what factors could convince them to make that change?

Students in Vancouver Island University (VIU) Professor Dr Matthew Bowes’ upper-level Cultural Geography class are attempting to answer these questions as part of his latest research project, which looks at the barriers and benefits to bio-diesel use in commercial, industrial and institutional vehicle fleets within the Regional District of Nanaimo…” For full article go to

VIU News May 11, 2018 - 9:45 am MEDIA CONTACT: Jenn McGarrigle, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University P: 250.740.6559 | C: 250.619.6860 | E: | T: @VIUNews

3M National Teaching Fellowship for Pam Shaw

Pam Shaw

Congratulations to Pam Shaw (Geography Prof and Director of the Master of Community Planning Program) for receiving the 2018 3M National Teaching Fellowship!

"The 3M National Teaching Fellowship is sponsored jointly by 3M Canada and the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE)...It is the only pan-Canadian, cross-disciplinary recognition of educational leadership and excellence in post-secondary teaching."

Global Citizenship at the Heart of VIU's GIS Training Program in Ukraine

“NANAIMO, BC: In the spirit of global citizenship, professors from Vancouver Island University (VIU) have helped Ukraine launch a training program in Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) to support sustainable economic growth. The program is the culmination of a five-year partnership between VIU, the Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute (KPI) and Taras Shevchenko National University in Kyiv.

VIU professors and instructors worked with their Ukrainian counterparts to co-develop six SDI courses, translate them into Ukrainian and deliver them to more than 150 Ukrainian civil servants. The aim of the partnership, funded by Global Affairs Canada, is to improve access to spatial data and web mapping technology used to support sound policy development...” For the full article go to

March 19, 2018 - 3:45 pm MEDIA CONTACT: Aly Winks, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University P: 250.740.6529 | C: 250.618.7930 | E: | T: @VIUNews

GEOG 433 Special Topics in Geography: The Geography of Music (Spring 2019)

Geog 433 course poster

A thorough examination of an important present-day issue, trend, or concept in the discipline of geography. Topics will vary by offering but will focus on a subject of significance to human geography, physical geography, or geographical techniques. Next spring, the geographical origins and dimensions of music. May be repeated for credit up to three times for different topic.  

    • Monday & Wednesday 11:30-13:00
    • Instructor: Don Alexander  
    • 3 credits
    • open to any VIU student with 3rd year standing

2018 Carto Cup Competition

And the winner of the 12th Annual Cartographic Design Challenge is...  ADGIS student Lena Ware! Lena entered a map that she worked on as part of her ADGIS program. Her map shows a "Summary of Ecosystem Loss on Saltspring Island between 1992 and 2014." For a list of past winners and other contest details, please see the Carto Cup website.

Lena Ware and Jessica Craig

Congratulations to Larissa for having her paper published in The Canadian Geographer!

Larissa’s research started as a GEOG 491: Research Project. With time, dedication, hard work and guidance from supportive faculty, she managed to create an excellent paper. It was published by The Canadian Geographer this past spring.

Larissa Thelin, Jeff Lewis, Alan Gilchrist and Jessica Craig. 2018. The potential effects of climate change on the habitat range of the Vancouver Island marmot (Marmota vancouverensis). The Canadian Geographer / Le Géographe canadien.

WDCAG Conference 2018

The VIU Geography delegation of upper-year students Spencer Croft, Trevor Dickinson, Kayla Harris, and Geography Technician Jessica Craig, attended the Western Division of the Canadian Association of Geographers (WDCAG) conference in early March at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

Congratulations to Kayla on her presentation "A Land Use Change Detection Analysis of Wetland and their Potential Connection to Groundwater Recharge: Case Studies in the Regional District of Nanaimo" and poster “Barriers and Benefits to Bio-diesel use in Commercial and Industrial Vehicle Fleets in the Regional District of Nanaimo.” Congratulations also to Trevor Dickinson on his presentation “The Impacts of Avalanche Activity and Snowpack Creep on Vancouver Island Marmot Habitat in a Changing Climate.” Jessica Craig also presented on her “Adventures in Geography Education with Grandchildren and Grandparents; Summer Camp at Vancouver Island University.” 

Thanks to the collaborative work by colleagues from The King’s University and The University of Alberta for putting together such a smoothly run conference. The VIU Geography Department looks forward to next year's meeting hosted by the University of Victoria.

WDCAG 2018 participants

Fall 2017: 12th Annual Urban Issues Film Festival and a showing of 'Chasing Coral'

Two successful events were sponsored by the Geographic Students Union and the Department of Geography during the week of November 6th. The first, on November 7th, a film showing of “Chasing Coral,” followed by a panel discussion of three experts on the challenges facing coral reefs – including BC’s unique glass sponge corals – was attended by between 70 and 80 people. It was characterized by vigorous discussion and free pizza at the end of the night.

The second, on November 10th, was the 12th Annual Urban Issues Film Festival. There was an abundance of lively discussion of the films and speakers which were organized around the theme of “Tactical Urbanism and the Creative City.” GSU members played a particularly important role, coordinating the pizza dinner, staffing the registration table, introducing films and leading discussions, and providing beverages, like juices, tea and coffee. All in all, organizers and attendees seemed quite satisfied with the two events.

GrandKids University Summer Camp 2017

The Geography Department was excited to be a "major" part of GrandKids University again this summer! This program gives grandparents the opportunity to take their grandchildren to university and work together in a learning partnership to earn a GrandKids U degree with a "major" in a subject area. Geography "majors" had fun working with Geography Technician geocaching, reading maps and compasses, working together to design the coolest park ever, collecting weather data with instruments, becoming human sundials, examining the properties of rocks and minerals, and working together to solve an Escape Room. Also, many thanks to the MABBRI volunteers that helped us put on such a fun camp!

Geography Summer Camp

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