3M Environmental Innovation Award
Making a difference
through innovative
environmental solutions


2012 Winner - D. R. Fraser Taylor

D. R. Fraser Taylor (Photo: David Trattles)

Living atlases
For D. R. Fraser Taylor, a map is more than just a faded poster hanging on a classroom wall — it is a key tool in environmental education that offers a potential wealth of understanding.

But since traditional maps can present only a limited amount of information, Taylor decided to come up with a new way of designing and using maps, called cybercartogarphy. The approach blends digital online maps with location-specific cultural information and interactive tools, such as audio recordings and photographs, to enhance the cartographic information, creating what Taylor calls “living atlases.”

So far, he’s produced nine of them, ranging from Antarctica to Latin America, but three of these — the Kitikmeot Place Name Atlas, the Arctic Bay Atlas and the Inuit Sea Ice Use and Occupancy Project — have earned Taylor and his team at Carleton University’s Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre (GCRC), in Ottawa, the 2012 3M Environmental Innovation Award.

“I’m very pleased,” says Taylor, a distinguished research professor at Carleton and director of the GCRC. “But it’s not just my work. The award is really in name of all the people work with, including, and most important, our Inuit partners in the North.”

Presented by The Royal Canadian Geographical Society and 3M Canada, the annual award recognizes innovative individuals who work to protect, restore and preserve the environment in ways that are beneficial to Canada and Canadians.

The three winning atlases, all of which focus on northern Canada, are meant to preserve and share indigenous knowledge while presenting new ways to look at our northern environment. For example, the Inuit Sea Ice Use and Occupancy Project presents extensive information on traditional uses of sea ice in Inuit culture.

One of the goals of creating the atlases, says Taylor, was to preserve some of the environmental wisdom of the elders and pass it on to the younger generation in a form that they can interact with effectively.

“We capture the stories of the elders, and it’s important. It’s a means of ensuring they don’t disappear.”

— Michelle LePage

To view the winning atlases as well as the GCRC’s other atlas projects, visit gcrc.carleton.ca/confluence/display/GCRCWEB/Atlases.


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