This spring saw the continuation of a research project that started four years ago on the Magdalen Islands of Quebec, which are a microcosm of the issues for all island and coastal peoples under stress from climate change and coastal erosion.Associate Professor of Anthropology Roberta Robin Dods is currently spending six weeks on the Magdalen Islands, four weeks on Grosse Ile and the Old Harry area, and two weeks on Entry Island.
Like many small primary resource-based communities in Canada, these islands are losing populations — particularly from the younger generations leaving for more urban areas. For example, this will be the last year Entry Island elementary school operates in its current configuration. Families with school age children will now have to choose to live elsewhere or send their children off-island to be educated.
The school facilities on the island are an ideal location for the training of student researchers in environment-based programs. They feature access to excellent resources, locations for researchers and relatively easy access to a place with a true sense of remoteness.
Dods’ work on these islands this year is in preparation for an extended period of time to be spent there in 2016. What the changes to the climate and populations of these islands means for Canadians remains to be seen. One thing is for sure: Dods will be there to document what happens.