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Geographic Education Poster Series


Geography Helped Me Get Where I am Now

Sara Pye


G.P. Vanier Secondary School

University of Victoria – Bachelor of Science (Honours) Degree in Geography with Distinction (2010)
McGill University – Master of Science Degree in Geography (2012)

Director of Indigenous Social and Cultural Policy, Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, Government of British Columbia


In 2005, I graduated from G.P. Vanier Secondary School and began attending the University of Victoria. I did not have a clearly defined career path in mind, so I took a variety of coursework in my first year. During my first semester, I fell in love with geography and decided I would pursue my Bachelor of Science Degree in Geography. Over the course of my undergraduate degree, I participated in UVic’s Co-op Program, where I was exposed to a diversity of job opportunities. First, I worked for Maritime Pacific Engineering, a private forest engineering company based out of Campbell River, BC. I conducted fieldwork and wrote terrain stability assessments for forestry companies across Vancouver Island. Then, I worked for the Institute of Ocean Sciences, a research institution operated by the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Sidney, BC. I went on oceanic research cruises along the west coast to conduct water sampling and used remote sensing technologies to study the productivity of the ocean. Lastly, I worked for the Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Resources with the BC Government in Victoria, BC. I used GIS and other geospatial information to better manage mineral resources in the province. Through my undergraduate degree and work experience, I focused on physical geography, including geomatics and natural resource management.

In 2010, I moved to Montreal to attend McGill University where I pursued my Master’s of Science Degree in Geography. I was a member of the Climate Change Adaptation Research Group, led by Dr. James Ford. My thesis research focused on the impacts of climate change on Indigenous communities. I conducted my fieldwork in Iqaluit, Nunavut, where I worked with Inuit hunters to determine how changing sea ice and weather conditions impacted their ability to hunt, and spoke with community members to see how hunting challenges impacted their access to traditional foods. Ultimately, my research found that both environmental conditions as well as socio-economic conditions played a significant role in impacting food security. Through my graduate degree and research, I became more interested human geography.

I graduated from McGill in 2012, and moved to Iqaluit, Nunavut to work for the Department of Health with the Government of Nunavut. As Territorial Food Security Coordinator, I worked closely with the Nunavut Food Security Coalition, which is a collaborative group of government departments, Inuit organizations, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector working together to improve food security in Nunavut. I was responsible for coordinating the development and implementation of the Nunavut Food Security Strategy and Action Plan 2014-16.

In 2015, I moved back to Victoria, BC to work for the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation with the BC Government. First as Senior Advisor, and now as Director of Indigenous Social and Cultural Policy, I support a variety of initiatives that aim to improve the quality of life of Indigenous people in BC. I work closely with the Minister’s Advisory Council on Indigenous Women, which is a group of Indigenous women from across BC whose vision is a world where all Indigenous people live free of violence and are healthy, sustainable and self-determining. My work focuses on Indigenous women, culture, health, children and families, safety, housing, poverty reduction, and other interrelated areas.

I am very grateful for every step I have taken in my geography career. Even though it is still in its early stages, it has already taken me from Vancouver Island to Baffin Island – and even Greenland in between!

 
 

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