Senior Journalist/Science Writer
Phone: +1.613.482.2918 ext. 3250
John's academic background is in journalism, communications and political economy. He had a Master's Degree in Northern and Native Studies from Carleton University. His practical northern experience began when he migrated to the Yukon Territory in the early 1980s and got hooked on all things northern.
After working with CBC Radio in the Yukon, he was Cabinet Communications Advisor to Tony Penikett's NDP government. Currently residing in Ottawa, John has worked on policy issues for the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, been government relations manager for the Nunavut Planning Commission, and Executive Director of the Canadian Arctic Resources Committee (CARC). He was also Executive Secretary of the Indigenous Peoples' Secretariat in Copenhagen, Denmark.
He has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in journalism, public administration and geography Yukon College in Whitehorse, Carleton University and the University of Trier in the beautiful Mosel Valley in Germany.
A glimpse from John's daily work:
I started working on Arctic issues by accident. After my undergraduate degree, I travelled for over a year and wound up back in Canada in the Yukon Territory (next to Alaska) where I got a job as a reporter for a local newspaper. I wrote about everything from politics to Arctic oil and gas development to people’s small dogs being eaten by wolves one hungry winter.
To understand the pull of the north, and the power of the Arctic, you really have to spend time there. No amount of reading or documentary viewing can match the sensation of standing beneath the massive Kluane Mountains on the Alaskan border, gazing at the northern lights as your plane comes in for a landing at a tiny village on the tundra in Nunavut, or standing at the edge of the massive Jakobshavn glacier in Greenland watching icebergs being born.
I met my wife and started a family in the Yukon so you could say the North is in our blood. My career has revolved around talking, writing and communicating about Arctic challenges and how they are connected to the global environmental issues we all face. At its most fundamental, all my work has been about helping people tell their stories.
One of the most successful, and most absorbing projects I’ve worked on here is Many Strong Voices, which links the Arctic and Small Island Developing States – two regions where people really are at the front lines of climate change. While at first glance, you might not think there’s much in common between these two remote regions, you only have to bring people together to tell their stories, to each other and to the world, to realize the connections. People in both regions are intimately connected to their environments and rely on the resources of the land and sea for their food, wellbeing and cultural survival. Their worlds are changing and as they try to adapt they have much to teach us.
A lot of the work I’ve done at GRID-Arendal, and in other jobs, involves bringing people together and giving them the space to develop their own ideas and strategies for dealing with the challenges they face. Another project in this vein is the Arctic NGO Forum, which provided civil society organizations working in the circumpolar region with an opportunity to work together to influence decision-makers.
I have a new role now at GRID-Arendal and will be using my communications and other experience to work with my colleagues on ways to increase the reach and impact of our work. After all, it’s all about the stories – Arctic or South Pacific or Africa. Stories make the connections that lead to change.