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June 09, 2014

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Science confirms two distinct wolf types in BC

New research co-authored by a University of Victoria wildlife scientist provides genetic evidence that BC’s mainland wolves and coastal wolves appear to be genetically distinct.

The research, published today in the scientific journal BMC Ecology, affirms what Chester Starr, an elder from the Heiltsuk First Nation on BC’s remote west coast, and his people have always known. In fact, Starr’s insight provided motivation for the study.

It was likely the profoundly different ecological environments that created the genetic separation, explains co-author Dr. Chris Darimont, Hakai-Raincoast professor at UVic and a scientist at the Raincoast Conservation Foundation. Coastal islands offer wolves more marine-based foods, such as salmon and marine mammals—preferences that are passed on from generation to generation. Over time, coastal wolves bred more frequently with one another and less frequently with their deer-loving relatives on the mainland.

“The fact that this is not supposed to happen over such a short distance is what makes this special,” says Darimont. “We'd absolutely expect wolves from Alberta and Alaska to differ, but we would not expect this genetic gradient within an area that is only 2,000 square kilometres.”

The scientists analyzed DNA samples from wolf scats collected in the field.

The discovery reminds us that although Indigenous and scientific approaches constitute different paths to knowledge, they’re rooted in the same reality and provide complementary information, adds Darimont. “Earlier in my career, I had assumed that ecological knowledge could only come from science. I was wrong, and it’s exciting to learn from this and similar experiences.”

Link to the study: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6785/14/11

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  Media Contacts:

Chris Darimont (Geography) at 250-853-3287 or 250-589-7873 or darimont@uvic.ca
Anne MacLaurin (Social Sciences Communications) at 250-217-4259 or sosccomm@uvic.ca

Follow us on Twitter: @uvicnews
UVic media releases & resources for journalists: http://communications.uvic.ca/media

UVic study: Program provides vital support for former youth in care

A community program that provides support for former foster youth at risk of homelessness is having demonstrable, meaningful and practical results, a University of Victoria study shows.

The evaluation study, believed to be the first of its kind in Canada, compared participants in the Link program at Aunt Leah’s Place in New Westminster with a comparison group of similar former youth in care. The transition to adulthood and independent living is particularly difficult for some youth who lose access to government care-related support when they turn 19 and leave their foster families. Many have not graduated from high school, are underemployed or unemployed, and struggling with mental health and addictions.

“When youth are involved with the Link program and its one-to-one approach, they are more likely to find housing, gain confidence and independence, and connect with health and community services,” says Dr. Deborah Rutman, the lead researcher from UVic’s School of Social Work and co-author of Avoiding the Precipice: An Evaluation of Aunt Leah’s Link Program in Supporting Youth from Foster Care.

“The youth workers I’ve met through Aunt Leah’s are still a part of my life today,” says Bayleigh Marie, a Link program participant. “They’ve made a huge difference in my life and I’m a different person than I was four years ago.”

Among the report recommendations are: continued and increased funding for the program, expansion of the program to other municipalities, and extending government care-related support to young people to age 24.

To find out more about Aunt Leah’s Place http://auntleahs.org/
Copy of the full study is available at http://www.uvic.ca/hsd/socialwork/research/home/projects/index.php

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  Media Contacts:

Dr. Deborah Rutman (School of Social Work) at drutman@uvic.ca or by contacting Denise Helm
Drew Stewart (Aunt Leah’s Place) at 604-831-3739 or dstewart@auntleahs.org
Denise Helm (University Communications + Marketing) at 250-721-7656 or dhelm@uvic.ca

Follow us on Twitter: @uvicnews
UVic media releases & resources for journalists: http://communications.uvic.ca/media

Tuition help provided for former youth in care

BC students who are former youth in care and who need financial help to attend university are eligible for a new award established by the University of Victoria to cover the cost of their tuition.

Starting in the coming academic year, the award will be given to up to five eligible students a year for their undergraduate degree. Funding covers tuition costs, excluding mandatory fees, for eight terms or completion of the degree, whichever comes first.

UVic established the two-year pilot program in response to the Representative for Child and Youth’s request in 2013 that BC universities and colleges provide tuition support for students who have difficulty paying for post-secondary studies.

“We have a strong commitment to ensuring our academic programs and the resulting opportunities are accessible to all qualified applicants,” says Jim Dunsdon, associate vice-president of student affairs. “We hope this new award will make it easier for students who have already overcome so many barriers in their lives to pursue their educational and career goals.”

Students are eligible if they lived formerly in government care, are admitted to UVic and are registered in their first undergraduate program. The deadline for applications is June 30. If more than five eligible applicants apply before the deadline, the students with the highest admission average will receive the award. Also, students who transfer to UVic from a university or college to complete their first undergraduate degree and meet all eligibility criteria will be considered.

Information on criteria and application process is available from the office of Student Awards and Financial Aid by emailing finaid@uvic.ca

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  Media Contacts:

Lori Nolt (Director of Student Awards and Financial Aid) at 250-721-8425 or lnolt@uvic.ca
Denise Helm (University Communications + Marketing) at 250-721-7656 or dhelm@uvic.ca

Follow us on Twitter: @uvicnews

UVic media releases & resources for journalists: http://communications.uvic.ca/media

UVic media releases and other resources for journalists are available on the World Wide Web at http://communications.uvic.ca/media

(image: fern)