Submitted by Rachel Henderson - MA Sustainable Leisure Management Student
Through coordination by faculty Dr. Suzanne de la Barre (Department of Recreation and Tourism and WLCE), Vancouver Island University is part of a global network of seven universities that conduct circumpolar tourism research and educational programming. The University of the Arctic’s (UArctic) Master’s Certificate in Northern Tourism was created and developed as a collaboration between Vancouver Island University (Canada), Nipissing University (Canada), UiT the Arctic University of Norway (Norway), Umeå University (Sweden), University of Oulu (Finland), University of Lapland (Finland), and the University of Iceland (Iceland).
The Master’s Certificate in Northern Tourism is a three-course certificate offered to graduate-level students from UArctic partner university programs. This certificate consists of two online courses; Sustainable Tourism Development in Northern Environments and Northern Tourism: Performances and Experiences, and one (typically) in-person field course; Northern Tourism in Practice. Each course offers a unique perspective to the theories and practices related to northern tourism environments, presented in collaboration by instructors from diverse northern tourism research backgrounds.
After having completed the two previous online courses of the Master’s Certificate in Northern Tourism, I participated in this year’s field course in Pyhä-Luosto National Park, northern Finland.
On October 31st, 2022, I joined seven graduate students and five researchers from Canadian, Icelandic, Swedish, and Finnish universities to embark on a journey to Pyhä-Luosto National Park in northern Finland. Upon arrival to the park, we settled into our home for the next five days; a cozy, historic cabin equipped with a kitchen, a fireplace, and (my personal favourite feature) a sauna.
After a flurry of short introductions and greetings, we made our way to the Naava visitor centre where we were introduced to the history of the area. Using the guiding question, “How should we (re)think and communicate tourism in the era of climate emergency – and in the aftermath of COVID-19 pandemic?” discussions emerged surrounding our roles as northern tourism researchers, students, and employees in the current global setting. This was the first of many moments during the field course that I realized just how powerful it is to be with fellow researchers and students who share similar interests and backgrounds.
The following day we heard from a local tourism operator, ate local cuisine, and walked through the endless trails that exist in the region. All these experiences set the scene for our first assignment – creating a digital story to illustrate the need to re-think tourism in the current era.
My group decided to focus our digital story on the Siberian jay; a friendly and curious bird that frequents the Pyhä-Luosto area. As the symbol of the national park and a welcome presence in the forest, this bird allowed us to highlight the importance of human-nature connections for tourism, culture, and local well-being, and also highlight the threats that risk impacting these relationships (e.g. climate change).
In telling our story, we spent an entire day outside exploring the vast network of trails in the area. Not only did we find the Siberian jays (or, did the Siberian jays find us?), but we also found willow tits, frosty white trees, and a lot of happy hikers – us included. The next step we took was compiling all our footage together and creating our story.
I am extremely grateful for my opportunity to participate in the Northern Tourism in Practice field course hosted by the University of Lapland. A huge thank you goes to the course instructors, researchers, and fellow students that made this experience so meaningful.
For more information, a summary of activities in Pyha is also found here: https://www.uarctic.org/news/2022/11/thematic-network-on-northern-tourism-meets-in-pyha-finland-for-a-field-course-and-research-meeting/
For more information, please contact Dr. Suzanne de la Barre, a lead faculty member with the Graduate Certificate in Northern Tourism: Suzanne.email@example.com
For more information on the UArctic and the Tourism Thematic Network: https://www.uarctic.org/organization/thematic-networks/northern-tourism/
To access previous VIU SLM student experiences in the Master’s Certificate in Northern Tourism, go to the following:
Elaine (online field project, 2020): Student-created videos and podcasts - https://arctictourism.hi.is/videos_podcasts/
Alex (Umeå, Sweden, 2019) – with introductory comments by Suzanne and Britta (Rovaniemi, Finland, 2018): https://management.viu.ca/graduate-programs/viu-world-leisure-centre-excellence/blog/viu-and-wlce-leading-tourism-research-and
Michelle, Madhur, and Olivia (Vardø, Norway, 2016):
Leisure Matters Blog
The Leisure Matters Blog provides students, faculty, and visiting scholars a place to share their thoughts and reflections on leisure, sustainability, innovation, change, and so much more. Students' reflections on their experiences within the Master of Arts in Sustainable Leisure Management program and other WLCE initiatives will also be shared here. We invite readers to check-back and read the latest contributions.