Hannin Creek Education and Applied Research Centre Earns International Acclaim

The Hannin Creek Education and Applied Research Centre (HCEARC), one of Saskatchewan’s major centres of applied research, has been recognized by the United Nations University for its role in addressing the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #15 Life on Land. The goal, one of 17 SDGs, is to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems.

The centre, located at Candle Lake, SK, received a Global Acknowledged Flagship Project certificate. The awards recognize projects and programs within the Global Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) Network that bridge local and global perspectives on sustainable development; those that engage with transformative learning and research; and initiatives that contribute to community engagement, research and development and capacity development of stakeholders and partners. This recognition comes from the United Nations University, which headquarters the Global RCE Service Centre.

The Hannin Creek centre is an equal partnership between Saskatchewan Polytechnic and the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation (SWF). The facility has been in operation for more than 50 years, the past eight years have been in partnership with the SWF. The centre covers 12 hectares and is situated next to a game preserve. It is the only boreal forest field station in the province, one of two boreal stations in Canada.

“Sustainability is one of Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s core values,” says Dr. Larry Rosia, Sask Polytech president and CEO. “We are deeply honoured that the centre has achieved this global recognition, and would like to thank all those who have, and those who continue to contribute to making the centre such a unique and inspiring place to learn and conduct applied research.”

“The Hannin Creek centre has won several national and international awards, including awards for our outdoor education programs, which hundreds of people enjoy and benefit from each year,” says Clark Schultz, SWF board of director’s president.

The centre allows visitors to connect with natural ecosystems, immersing them in the elements and providing education on threats and sustainability. Onsite labs provide space for data collection and sample analysis for research.

“The facility provides a hands-on learning piece to many of our programs including Resource and Environmental Law, Environmental Engineering, Civil Engineering and Water Resources Engineering Technology for research in the areas of forestry, fishery and wildlife,” says Jamie Hilts, dean for the Schools of Mining, Energy and Manufacturing, and the School of Natural Resources and Built Environment. “The School of Human Services also uses the camp facilities for outdoor training in the Recreation and Community Development program,” adds Hilts.

The facility is also utilized for research by other institutions, by provincial and federal governments and the PA Model Forest. Hilts adds, “We are also looking at education and training opportunities with local First Nations communities.”

The current challenges to sustainability addressed by the work done at the Hannin Creek centre include climate change, overpopulation, deforestation, urbanization and economic austerity. Conservation, education and research are of critical importance to mitigate these challenges, according the award nomination.

There is still more opportunity for further research in the areas of alternative energies and food sustainability. Hilts says, “Our plans are to establish applied research in the area of solar and wind and its application in a boreal forest ecosystem as well as looking what might be done to take fuller advantage of the significant amount of bio material that could be utilized as well.” “It is our hope that in addition to being able to create the needed energy to operate the facility, we are able to identify how these principles could be applied to other northern and remote locations,” adds Hilts.

“The one other area of the facility that is associated with this work, will be the creation of a three-season greenhouse. This will provide a food source for the facility, but will also allow for applied research to be done on how to implement energy alternatives to heat and support the structure – again providing the opportunities to see how such work can enhance food security in northern or rural communities,” says Hilts.

“The award provides recognition nationally and internationally to the facility, especially as we move towards finding solutions to environmental sustainability and conservation,” adds Hilts. “With the partnerships, manpower and resources the centre can focus on a made in Saskatchewan solution to some of the challenges we face globally.”

The award nomination was submitted by RCE Saskatchewan. Sask Polytech is a founding partner of RCE Saskatchewan since its formal acknowledgement by the United Nations University in 2007. For a complete list of recipients of 2020 RCE Global Awards, see 2020 RCE Awards for Innovative Projects on Education for Sustainable Development | RCE NETWORK

February 2021



Saskatchewan Polytechnic serves students through applied learning opportunities on Treaty 4 and Treaty 6 Territories and the homeland of the Métis.