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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Arts
December 7, 2016
Canadian Excellence

Sonia Wesche
Sonia Wesche

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Geography and Environmental Studies

Laurier PhD candidate wins prestigious Award of Merit

Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing

May 3/07

WATERLOO — The Senior Women Academic Administrators of Canada (SWAAC) recognized Sonia Wesche, a Laurier PhD candidate in geography and environmental studies, with their prestigious 2007 Graduate Student Award of Merit.

Each university in Ontario (the designated region for 2007) nominated one female graduate student for the award. Of these, SWAAC selected the top five students who met their criteria for “outstanding leadership in the university or general community while maintaining exemplary academic records.”

"This award is extremely well-deserved,” says Dr. Derek Armitage, assistant professor of geography and environmental studies who works with Wesche. “Sonia has shown great commitment to her academic research, while making significant contributions to the wider community by leading and organizing a range of activities. Quite simply, she is a wonderful ambassador for the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies and for Wilfrid Laurier University."

For Wesche, the award provides meaningful recognition.

"It is an honour to be recognized by an organization with the important mandate of supporting women's development and engagement in the academic community," she says. "The award provides some added incentive (and extra funds) for the thesis-writing stage of my program."

Wesche’s thesis project involves a collaborative study of traditional knowledge and community adaptation to environmental change in the Déne-Métis community of Fort Resolution, Northwest Territories. Developing partnerships within the community has been essential for building her research framework. This approach ensures that the results of her work will be of significant value to this and other Mackenzie Basin communities experiencing ecological change. Through community collaboration, her research directions have been extended to include the role of social capital in identifying, measuring and building adaptive capacity.
In addition to the SWAAC award, Wesche has received several major scholarships. When she is not conducting research, she is involved in numerous leadership and volunteer roles. She established Laurier’s Graduate Geographers’ Association and served as student liaison on the Waterloo-Laurier Joint Geography Program Committee. She is also the National Student Councillor for the Canadian Association of Geographers. Through these and other roles, Wesche has organized a number of sessions and symposia, and taught a course on indigenous environmental management.

Lori Chalmers Morrison
Public Affairs


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