Carleton University’s Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre (GCRC) is proud to announce that its partner’s Gwich’in Goonanh’kak Googwandak: The Places and Stories of the Gwich’in project has just won the 2020 Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Community Programming.

This award-winning partnership with the Gwich’in Tribal Council Department of Cultural Heritage (formerly Gwich’in Social and Cultural Institute) brought Elders, youth, researchers, geographers/cartographers and designers together to present and celebrate Gwich’in place names and their associated oral history in a variety of ways:

These products are the result of 23 years of research that began in 1992 by the Gwich’in Tribal Council Department of Cultural Heritage working with over 74 Elders and traditional land users in Aklavik, Fort McPherson, Inuvik and Tsiigehtchic in the Northwest Territories. The Atlas is organic as information is still being added. The nomination of place names for official recognition is also ongoing. To date, more than 500 Gwich’in place names have been officially recognized, significantly decolonizing the maps of northwestern Canada.

Beginning in 2010, the Gwich’in Goonanh’kak Googwandak project sought to share this information and knowledge widely and make it easily accessible. Working with community steering committees composed of Elders and traditional land users, in partnership with the GCRC, the project group created a Gwich’in Cybercartographic Atlas.

The GCRC has been working with dozens of communities across Canada and around the world using their innovative Nunaliit atlas software framework for community mapping projects. This technology is being used in the Gwich’in Goonanh’kak Googwandak project with enhancements co-created with the Gwich’in.

“Our collaboration with Carleton University was particularly beneficial to both parties as it helped to make our Elders’ knowledge more readily accessible, and supported the university to grow and share their open source atlas framework more widely. This has resulted in the development of dozens of other Atlases from Alaska to South America to Asia,” said Sharon Snowshoe, director of the Gwich’in Tribal Council Department of Cultural Heritage.

“The GCRC has worked in creating innovative cybercartographic atlases with Indigenous groups and organizations for nearly two decades,” said Fraser Taylor, director of GCRC. “We are very pleased to see this important recognition of one of our long-standing partners.”

The lasting impact of this project will be wide-ranging, helping to raise awareness and appreciation of Gwich’in place names at the local, national and international and is seen by the Gwich’in project team as one way to advance the process of reconciliation in our country.

Media Contact
Steven Reid
Media Relations Officer
Carleton University

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