north-oldcrow-research1010

Construction of the research facility in Old Crow, Yukon, is slated to be completed by early next month. ((Leonard Linklater/CBC))



A $2-million research centre being built in Old Crow, Yukon, aims to help scientists save money while encouraging local youth to stay in school.

Located on the banks of the Porcupine River, the facility will include a laboratory, a walk-in freezer and storage space. Officials hope to have it completed by the beginning of next month.

The centre will allow university researchers who are collecting specimens in northern Yukon to begin their analysis while they're still in the area, as opposed to shipping out their specimens right away.

"A lot of scientists do work up there, and many of these are multi-year projects," Jeff Hunston, the Yukon government's director of heritage resources, told CBC News on Tuesday.

"If they take all their field equipment up there, and at the end of the season have to ship south — only to ship it north again — back and forth, I mean, they're paying a lot of freight."

Hunston said the research facility makes economic sense for researchers in Old Crow, a remote fly-in community that has a housing shortage.

"If we can actually store things there, it's a smart way to do business," he said, adding that having the facility could mean researchers can put more toward their projects.

Bridging science, culture

Officials with the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation in Old Crow say they hope the research facility will serve as a link between the scientific and traditional communities.

"It's very important for the community in terms of allowing a place to facilitate scientific research within the community and provide a bridge between heritage and their culture," said Lance Nagwan, the First Nation's director of natural resources.

Many high school students in Old Crow have helped researchers in the field, and the First Nation says it hopes having those students involved in the analysis stage will encourage them to continue their studies.

Planning of the research facility is a partnership between the Yukon government's heritage branch, the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation and Parks Canada.