This month Laura Meinert and Aimee Guile joined the WRRB’s Staff. Laura is the WRRB’s new Wildlife Management Biologist and Aimee is filling a new position with the Board as a Conservation Biologist. In her role as a wildlife management biologist, Laura will provide the Board with scientific research, monitoring and management advice on wildlife, including fish in Wek’èezhìı. As well, Laura will conduct regulatory reviews on land use permits and water licences. As a conservation biologist, Aimee will provide the Board with scientific research, monitoring and management advice on plants, forests, species at risk, and protected areas in Wek’èezhìı.
Photo: WRRB Wildlife Management Biologist Laura Meinert at her desk at the WRRB office (Susan Beaumont, WRRB)
Laura comes to the WRRB directly from her work at Ekati Diamond Mine first as an Environmental Coordinator and then as the Wildlife Advisor, managing the Wildlife Effects Monitoring Program. Wildlife management was a big part of her work at Ekati, sometimes involving deterring or relocating foxes or bears. Once, after bear bangers and then rubber bullets didn’t work, they had to resort to setting up a helicopter operation with ENR, but the bear disappeared! While at Ekati, Laura sat on the Bathurst Caribou Range Planning Group. Her time at Ekati has given Laura insights she can use in her work with the WRRB. “I know the real impacts of policies on the ground, on wildlife and on habitat,” she said.
Laura’s experience as a Tundra Science and Culture Camp student at Daring Lake while she was in high school helped her land work as a summer student with Ekati Mine. She worked at Ekati’s Environment Department each summer while she completed her Biology degree at the University of British Columbia. Laura spent her summers at Ekati on fisheries work, monitoring a man-made stream as part of a 10-year project. Live fish trapping and collecting fin clips and otoliths (a small bone in a fish’s head used to age the fish) were some of her activities.
Biology and “the living environment and how everything is related” has always interested Laura. “It’s at the core of everything we do; we’re part of the ecosystem,” she explained. At the Tundra Science and Culture Camp, she realized all the different ways science can be used in the North. Now, as the Board’s Wildlife Management Biologist, Laura is looking forward to broadening her expertise in the North, such as learning more about tǫdzı (boreal caribou).
Her vision for the future? “I love the North. This is my home. I would like to see the creatures and land protected. I think the Board and this job will help me do that,” she said.
Photo: WRRB Conservation Biologist Aimee Guile (Susan Beaumont, WRRB)
Aimee moved to the WRRB from the GNWT where she worked as a Contaminated Sites Project Manager for Environment and Natural Resources. After graduating from Environmental Science with a specialization in Ecology and Conservation at the University of British Columbia, Aimee worked as an intern with the GNWT, work that led to her recent full-time position there. She’s currently working on her Masters of Science degree in Environmental Practice online from Royal Roads University in B.C. This interdisciplinary course is aimed at providing graduates with a holistic picture of environmental management.
Since 2016, Aimee has been a Board Member with CPAWS (Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society), “a way for me to keep my hand in the conservation world,” she said. CPAWS has been working with the community of Łutsel K’e to help with the creation of Thaidene Nëné, an ecologically and culturally significant area along the East Arm of Great Slave Lake. Aimee’s exposure to this process and her involvement in community sessions has added to the skills she brings to the Board.
Aimee is excited to be working in the conservation area. “Working for a co-management board will be interesting—working with so many different people with different perspectives,” she said. Her vision for the future is a healthy ecosystem in the NWT and healthy species.
Aimee grew up in the North, camping with her family as a child. She was inspired to study biology by “all the nature and ecosystems we’re exposed to here.” An outdoors person, Aimee has hiked the West Coast Trail in B.C. and built a cabin on Tibbitt Lake with her husband and friends, learning as they went.
Both Laura and Aimee have some experience with canoes. Laura described a time when she was able to paddle part of the “Trails of our Ancestors” route to the Tłı̨chǫ General Assembly in Gamètì one year. Her group met up with the other canoes at the falls near the community and joined in a race. “They were a week in already, but they were unstoppable. We were the last by far. They just rocketed it!” Aimee will be paddling for about 10 days in Nahanni National Park this summer, her first big canoe trip and an item on her bucket list.
Laura and Aimee are looking forward to working together, learning from each other’s strengths, and supporting the Board’s work in renewable resources management in Wek’èezhìı with its co-management partners.