“I feel very lucky to do work every day that I believe in, that is consistent with my beliefs and my history, and to work with people of extraordinary talent and leadership.”
Laurie Suitor is UINR’s Intergovernmental Relations & Partnership Advisor. Her job is to ensure that Mi’kmaq interests, concerns and priorities are included in environmental and resource management issues. Sometimes this involves on-the-ground project management and coordination, such as the Chapel Island Mission, sometimes it involves influencing policy and procedures within government.
At UINR, we do this, wherever possible, through collaboration and partnership. A significant portion of Laurie’s work is to ensure those partnerships happen and deliver effective results. These partnerships are between Mi’kmaq communities, between Mi’kmaq government and non-Mi’kmaq government, and between all levels of government (Mi’kmaq, Province of Nova Scotia, Municipal and Federal governments) and various combinations.
Laurie has a double major in English Literature and the History of Science and Technology, and a graduate degree in Education. The History of Science and Technology was a specialized degree offered in few institutions; it was created after the second world war by James Bryant Conant, president of Harvard University, who felt that if scientists had a better understanding the context in which scientific â€œtheoriesâ€ and practice had emerged, and the context in which they are practiced, then the war and the role science played in its tragedies would have been significantly altered. He felt scientists needed a more rounded education. People like Thomas S. Kuhn were practitioners of this approach to science.
On the arts side of her education, she worked in education and social work. On the science side, she worked for several years for the Department of Environment and Labour as the Bras d’Or Lakes coordinator.
Laurie was provincial Co-chair of the Sustainable Communities Initiative, and Co-ordinator of Bras d’Or Lakes Collaborative Environmental Planning Initiative (CEPI). She is currently on the Board of Directors of the Bras d’Or Stewardship Society.
Despite her years of formal education, Laurie feels that the most significant education she received did not involve school. For much of her childhood she grew up in a small cabin on an isolated lake in northeastern Ontario. She learned from the environment–the rocks, moss, fish, trees, insects, birds, animals, wind and water. This, she feels, was her most significant education.
For several years Laurie performed as a songwriter and pianist, and has won awards for her poetry. She still write music and plays piano every day. She is an avid swimmer and reads anything, except science fiction.
Laurie has spent a lot of her time learning traditional Mi’kmaq culture and tradition from the Elders. This has allowed her to understand the Mi’kmaq perspective in her dealing with government and allows her to translate “governmentese” into a form that Mi’kmaq people can relate to. Her ability to exist and communicate in both worlds has made her an invaluable asset at UINR.
Some of the projects and partnerships that Laurie initiated or works on include:
Bras ‘Or Lakes Collaborative Environmental Planning Initiative (CEPI)
Bras d’Or Atlas
Cape Breton University
Chapel Island Mission
Environmental Assessment Protocols
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Kwilmu’kw Maw-klusuaqn (KMK)
Natural Resource Officer Program
Youth and Elders Council