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Toward a Just and Sustainable World: 2017 CAG Conference in Toronto

One of the benefits of being a contributing writer to GoGeomatics Canada is that I am able to attend, and subsequently write about, events in our community. I’m a Ryerson University Student taking Applied Geography and GIS and being a volunteer writer with GoGeomatics is a great fit. I know that networking is important now for my academic career and in future it will be just as important to my professional career.  With that in mind I decided to attend the Canadian Association of Geographers (CAG) conference held at York University.

Osgoode Hall at York University in Toronto

What is the Canadian Association of Geographers Conference?

CAG is a week-long event held from Monday May 29th to June 2nd of 2017. The week-long conference featured 500 presentations from 600 delegates from more than 20 countries. That alone makes this a must go to event for an aspiring geographer in Canada.  The conference was held at York University Osgoode Hall Law School. The law school was and ideal location for this conference as it was easily accessible by public transit and for those driving.  

The conference delegates networking during the breaks

The theme for CAG 2017 was ‘Toward A Just And Sustainable Word’. The premise was bringing together geographers to discuss the issues and ideas behind policies in order to change the behavior of people, industries and governments.

Due to time constraints I was only able to attend the second day of the conference. My goal for the day was to see as many interesting speakers as I could and network with colleagues.

The CAG Conference:

CAG conference participants included a wide swath of disciplines and interests within Canada’s geography sector. There was a lot of local university professors and students. That is not to say that geographers from the professional’s ranks were under represented. The professionals I met worked in a number of areas related to geography like GIS, remote sensing, urban planners and more. I was happy to meet the York University Professor Tarmo Remmel in person later during the day, it was Professor Tarmo who initially guided me to attend. 

Photo Hulya Arik

Talks and Presentations:

On the day I attended I faced a plethora of choice in terms of attending sessions. Those sessions I selected primarily interested me because they spoke to my passions as a geographer. It was a great feeling to have options.

The conference delegates networking during the breaks

Land, Property and Land Conflicts 

The presenters were: Jennifer Ball, Gerada Wekerle, Dena Farsad.

For the Land, property, and land conflicts session, we were provided with presentations on a number of papers. I found the topics engaging communities in conflict a role of planning intriguing as it was new to me.  I didn’t realize geography covers such a wide spectrum of topics. Geography can be used in order to understand conflicts as well as an opportunity to bridge relationships. By using geography this way we can bring together different viewpoints on decision-making. This session made me realize that geography for land usage is also closely linked to the purpose of us within our environment combined together with social issues.

After this session there was a mid-morning break and I got the opportunity to walk around the conference area, the pictures below illustrate the booths that were there and the networking opportunities amongst the delegates in the field.

Advancements in GIScience: UAV and LiDAR

The team of people involved in the presentations consisted of Tarmo Remmel, Scott Mitchell, Harold Scheffel, Marissa Chase, Connie Ko, Gunho Sohn, Brent Thorne, Marilyne Jolineau, Hyun Suk Lee, Brock Kotsaki, Andrew Reynolds, Chunhua Zhang, John Kovacs, Dan Walters and Kathy Young.

The second mid-morning seminar I attended was on the Advancements in GIScience: UAV and LiDAR. Each keynote speaker discussed their presentation with such passion and expertise. LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is a remote sensing method that uses lasers to measure distances to objects. The presenter discussed how integrated using LiDAR can assess the retroreflectivity of traffic signs. This was fascinating to me because we use traffic signs all the time. It is one of the most important assets for transportation systems. It was explained how LiDAR systems can obtain road environment information along with geospatial in order to reflect the material properties of object surface. This in return can help provide guidance to road users regarding traffic regulation, warnings, destination information and temporary road conditions. I also enjoyed listening to the next presentation during this session on how remote sensing can be used to analyze floods in Iceland.  The student had traveled to Iceland and used a drone to study the data of infiltrated deep volcanic ash on hill slopes that was the direct cause of surface water.

The York University GIScience Study Group

Round table – Canada at 150: Critical Historical Geographies – Revisiting the Historical Atlas of Canada

The presenters for the round table consisted of the following: Arn Keeling, Matt Rogalsky, Richard Anderson, Daniel Banoub, Laura Cameron, Chris Erl, Matthew Evenden, Richard Harris, Katie Hemsworth, Philip Mackintosh and Laura Pitkanen.

The next session I attended was a round table on Canada at 150: Critical Historical Geographies – Historiographies and Methodologies. It was wonderful to hear all the presenters discuss their thoughts on how the main objective of research for historical geography is based upon not only our knowledge of the past but also through the process of historical cartography, written documents and the impacts of colonialism, imperialism, feminism, nationalism and post colonialism upon Canada. There is a lot of Canadian information directly related to historical geography from the studies of our cultural heritage to social pattern behavior within particle region across nationally.  This is a topic I am interested in to learn more about.

My Final Thoughts:

My one day spent at this conference was inspiring and positive.  I can think of no better event for those who want to pursue an academic career path as a geographer.  I loved learning from the research papers being presented by both students and professors. The round table discussions on how as a discipline geography is making a difference was fascinating.  My take away from CAG is that GIS is an interesting and dynamic field that I am happy to partake in. I am looking forward to working within this field in the future.

For a great reader like me, I was spoilt for choice. This booth set up a diverse range of geography related books for purchase.

The conference event sessions that I attended were sponsored by the following: GIScience Study Group, The City Institute at York University, Historical Geography Specialty Group and Economic Geography Study Group.

I want to thank Professor Tarmo Remmel from York University and Jonathan Murphy from GoGeomatics for this opportunity to attend the CAG conference. Also my sincere thank you to the conference Chair, Steven Tufts and the organizing committee for granting me the press pass for the day. I hope to attend again next year and that the readers from GoGeomatics can join me. Please share your comments below and I will get back to you.

Both students and professionals are welcome to sign up to receive email notifications on the dissemination of geographic research.

You can find out more about CAG here: https://www.cag-acg.ca

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