With generous support from the Weston Family Foundation, WCS Canada is able to award annual fellowships to graduate students to support field research relevant to WCS Canada’s conservation objectives at our two long-term conservation sites: the boreal region of northern Ontario and the northern boreal mountains of Yukon and British Columbia. Here is a short report on what our Fellowship program has accomplished.
WCS Canada will award one-year fellowships of between $5,000 and $20,000 each. The amount of funding awarded will be determined in part by the applicants’ financial needs and the number of applications received.
The Fellowship awards are intended to:
Fellowship awards are available for project activities beginning on or after April 1 of award year.
Fellowship applicants must be pursuing a graduate degree in conservation science, or in a related field such as landscape ecology, natural resources management/conservation, conservation planning, conservation biology, environmental studies, wildlife/plant/fisheries ecology or socio-ecological studies.
Individuals who have received a WCS Canada Weston Family Foundation Fellowship award in a previous year may reapply. 2020 Fellows who have projects that have been extended beyond one year in response to COVID-19 may also re-apply for 2021. Applications to support an additional year of the same project will be considered. Applications from past grantees for new projects will also be considered. For example, a student that received a Fellowship award for Master's research may submit an application to support their PhD research.
The proposed research project must help advance WCS Canada’s conservation objectives at one of its two long-term sites (the boreal region of northern Ontario or the boreal mountains of Yukon and British Columbia - please see map below) or increase conservation knowledge that is relevant to one or both of these sites. Relevant research areas include, but are not limited to, studies of: aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems; wetland, riparian, and peatland ecosystems; species management/conservation; ecosystem connectivity; ecological changes resulting from climate change; sustainable harvesting of fish and/or wildlife; and socio-ecological effects of natural resource development or management, especially cumulative effects of multiple development projects.
Expenses related to thesis related research costs are eligible including, but not necessarily limited to:
Stipends for graduate students are not eligible for Fellowship support.
Fellowship applications must include the following:
We ask that documents 2 to 7 be consolidated into one PDF file. If the Letter of Support is being sent separately then combine files 2 to 6.
Applicants are strongly advised to ensure that their proposed research follows accepted ethical guidelines for research in the North before submitting proposals. Examples include the First Nations Information Governance Centre’s Ownership, Control, Access, and Possession (OCAP®) standards, First Nations Ethics Guide on Research and Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge, Principles of Ethical Métis Research, Tri-Council Policy Statement (2018) - Chapter 9, entitled “Research Involving the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples of Canada, ACUNS Principles for Conduct of Research in the North, and the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Nunavut Research Institute Guide for Researchers.
Fellowship awards will be conditional upon applicants providing copies of approved permits for research and evidence of compliance with necessary animal and/or human ethics review and welfare protocols.
Electronic submissions in a single PDF to be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "2021 Weston Fellowship Application".
Recipients of Fellowship Awards will be required to report on the progress of their projects and provide a final report. Reporting requirements include providing photos and video footage of field work activities. Examples of videos submitted by previous Fellows can be found on the WCS Canada YouTube channel.
Northern Ontario contains the world’s largest intact boreal forest, the third largest wetland, and the second largest peatland complex. Its sheer size (450,000 sq. km), remoteness, low human population density, lack of a permanent transportation or energy infrastructure network, and, as-yet, small industrial footprint make it a stronghold for a number of species that have experienced range reductions in the rest of Canada, including caribou, wolverine, and lake sturgeon as well as the most southerly sub-population of polar bears. It is also a homeland to approximately 40,000 First Nations Peoples (including Anishinabeg and Muskegowuk) In the last two decades, First Nations in this region have experienced a mineral boom in staking, exploration, and mining, intensifying with the discovery of a world-class nickel-chromium deposit (the “Ring of Fire”). In 2010, the Government of Ontario formally committed to protecting at least 50% of the landscape and creating a new relationship with First Nations to support sustainable development through community-based land-use planning processes. Our vision is that Ontario’s Northern Boreal Landscape remains the largest intact boreal landscape in the world with thriving populations of iconic fish and wildlife species within a dynamic landscape, supporting healthy and resilient communities of First Nations pursuing traditional resource use and limited industrial development.
Northern Boreal Mountains (NBM)
The Northern Boreal Mountains and Yukon encompasses approximately 855,000 sq. km in northwestern Canada, incorporating diverse boreal, taiga, and tundra ecosystems. Resident aboriginal peoples rely on their harvests of wildlife and fish, including the longest-distance migration of salmon in the world. Much of the region is still wilderness, supporting robust populations of barren-ground and mountain caribou, grizzly bears, wolverine, and lynx, and significant breeding populations of many boreal bird species. Much of the region was part of the Beringian refugium during the last ice age, and that geographic isolation led to significant speciation and endemic wildlife. Lowland forest and riparian habitats support the majority of the region’s biodiversity but these habitats are poorly covered by existing conservation lands. WCS Canada is focusing on the NBM because of the mix of conservation opportunity and threat the region currently faces.
Our vision is that the full suite of wildlife species continues to thrive, with robust populations conserved across the diversity of ecosystems, throughout the boreal mountains of northwest Canada.