ARI celebrates 50 years of research in the far North

ARI celebrates 50 years of research in the far North
Staff, students and the rest of the Aurora College community have been busy celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Aurora Research Institute in Inuvik this month.Photo: Courtesy of Aurora College.

From language and cultural revitalization to Northern farming and life on the land, the Aurora Research Institute (ARI) in Inuvik has been an integral part of learning and developing research in the Northwest Territories for the past 50 years.

Staff, students and anyone with an interest have been celebrating the institute’s 50th anniversary for the last month with a series of movie nights, presentations from present and past researchers and dynamic hands-on experiments like building their own robots.

“We have a neat collection of reflections from different researchers,” said ARI director Pippa Seccombe-Hett. “We’re also spending some time speaking with local community members that were active in the research through the years and their involvement with youth and as community members now in the research program. There’s a broad range of people from the communities that have worked on research programs for over 50 years.”

Those research programs have extended from environmental studies, physics, sociology and languages, agriculture and health initiatives – as time goes on, the list continues to expand and grow.

The original Inuvik campus for ARI opened in 1964, a research base for then-department of Indian and Northern Affairs to conduct studies in the NWT and the Yukon. In 1984, the establishment was turned over to the GNWT’s Science Institute of the NWT (SINT) before merging with Aurora College in 1995 and becoming the ARI, as it is known today.

Not only a centre for learning about the far North, ARI has been a community hub for the last five decades where families can show up for barbecues and movie nights, a history the institute honoured by screening films related to the region throughout the month of October.

The North Slave Research Centre, ARI’s extension in Yellowknife, celebrated its history as well with a science showcase hosted at the Northern United Place on Nov. 3, which saw about 150 attendees.

“We’re really trying to focus the celebrations on the community, the impacts and the great work and the significance of the work that’s been done through here and the community involvements in that,” Seccombe-Hett said. “It’s been pretty neat to have some of the community’s perspective shared and reflected on.”

As part of the emphasis, a committee from ARI has been reaching out to elders, local families and researchers past and present, collecting photos and artifacts from the last half century, some of which have been turned into an interactive timeline.

To look at ARI’s full history over the years, or to see what events are going on, head to

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