Nov. 20, 2017

Law student presents at annual Polar Law symposium

During this month's reading days, second-year student Anna Kosa traveled to Finland to present at the 10th Annual Polar Law Symposium with Professor Nigel Bankes. Read more about her experience just six kilometers from the Arctic Circle.

During the November reading break, I had the opportunity to travel to Finland for the 10th Annual Polar Law Symposium. The Symposium was held in Rovaniemi, Finland – a relatively small city just six kilometres south of the Arctic Circle. Being in a new city is always an exciting experience, especially when you have the opportunity to attend your first international law conference.

Each year, legal scholars and researchers from across the globe attend the Symposium to present research on various topics related to the Arctic. The Symposium was held over two days and included over 70 presentations.

I was at the Symposium to present research with Professor Nigel Bankes on the legal dimensions of food security. I became involved in this project over the summer, as a Research Assistant for Professor Bankes. The research began with an interdisciplinary analysis of food security and why it is such a pervasive problem in Canada’s North. Food insecurity is a particular problem in Canada’s North (especially among Indigenous communities) primarily because of climate change, the remoteness of certain communities, and contaminants entering the traditional food supply.

The next step of the analysis was to examine how domestic law either helped or hindered food security. Our presentation was primarily focused on how Land Claim Agreements have either facilitated or impaired food security. These agreements have enabled food security through their broadly-based system of entitlement; the creation of co-management bodies; and, the establishment of strong compensation schemes. On the other hand, these agreements have missed an opportunity to facilitate food security by failing to establish hunter income support programs. This is an ongoing project, and the next stage in the analysis will be to look at international law and how it affects food security.

While my schedule was busy with the Symposium, I was able to enjoy some beautiful Finnish sights. Rovaniemi is believed to be the official town of Santa Claus. Just outside the city is the Santa Claus village, complete with dog sledding, reindeer, and Santa Claus himself. I was able to wander around the village for a day and thoroughly get into the Christmas spirit!

This experience was a fantastic opportunity. Not only did I get to attend my first international law conference, but I also gained greater insight in an area of the law I am particularly interested in. I was also able to improve my research and presentation abilities – no doubt skills that will follow me throughout my legal career.