The Museum at Campbell River and Greenways Land Trust are hosting a virtual talk by UVIC PhD candidate Garth Covernton on Nov. 5. Tickets are only $7 and are available at Photo courtesy Garth Covernton

The Museum at Campbell River and Greenways Land Trust are hosting a virtual talk by UVIC PhD candidate Garth Covernton on Nov. 5. Tickets are only $7 and are available at Photo courtesy Garth Covernton

New Museum at Campbell River speaker series leads off with talk on microplastics

Tickets for digital event Nov. 5 are only $7 and include the opportunity to ask questions

The Museum at Campbell River has had a longstanding relationship with the University of Victoria, hosting numerous scholars from the institution over the years to discuss their research and areas of expertise.

Anthropological speakers and historians, social scientists and geologists have all come to town over the years to educate and enlighten the public through the UVIC Speakers Bureau, but this year, as with many facets of our society, things have changed.

What hasn’t changed, however, is the museum’s desire to share information and continue conversations that need to happen.

So they’ve teamed up with Greenways Land Trust to host a somewhat different kind of Speakers Bureau lecture presented in a new way.

“The museum has worked with the UVIC Speakers Bureau for years, and we very much wanted to continue that relationship with them and keep bring speakers up to Campbell River,” says programming coordinator Ken Blackburn. “But, of course, there’s a pandemic, so they have moved their program completely online.”

But that’s not a problem, Blackburn thought. In fact, there may be some people who would prefer that option, or people who have always wanted to catch one of the talks but haven’t been able to.

“We have to remember and be sensitive to the fact that there is a segment of the population that just can’t get out to things,” Blackburn says, including seniors, people with disabilities, and families with small children who may not have access to childcare. “There were people who told us they loved the Haig-Brown Lecture this year because they could watch it from home and it was the first time they’d seen one.”

Blackburn says the reasoning behind moving from historical topics – the traditional themes of the talks – to the environment for this series was to keep the conversation going post-Art+Earth Festival, of which the Museum at Campbell River is a significant partner.

“In looking at how to keep the conversation going post Art+Earth Festival, the partners – including Greenways Land Trust and, of course, the arts council – started to explore running a series of events over the fall and winter that would relate to the aims of the Art+Earth Festival, which is to heighten the appreciation through the natural world,” Blackburn says. “The environmental conversation has kind of gotten sidelined because of the pandemic, but we need to keep those discussions going.”

The first of these talks will be on Nov. 5 by Garth Covernton, a PhD candidate at UVIC specializing in microplastics and their impact on the world – especially on the marine environment. He will talk about how they get there, what their effects might be, and how we can mitigate those impacts.

“As we continue our love affair with plastics,” Covernton says, “it’s important that we understand the complexities of the issue in order to make the right choices to protect human and environmental health”

Covernton was the lead author on a study published in the journal Aquaculture Environment Interactions studying the impact of microplastics on farmed shellfish, and second author on a paper published in Environmental Science and Technology that estimated the amount of microplastics consumed by humans by reviewing 26 different studies on the subject.

Blackburn says the new format for the series is actually kind of exciting.

“Normally, of course, these would be live,” he says, “but those aren’t going to be happening anytime soon, so we have to find a new way for expertise to be presented to the community, and this feels like a good way to do it.”

The cost to virtually attend the lecture is only $7, and the talk will include a public Q&A at the end where you can put your questions about microplastics to someone in the forefront of research exploring them. You can get your tickets at

Blackburn’s hope is that the talks can be held monthly – skipping December – into next year, but that will likely be based on how the first one is received.

“Will people support it?” Blackburn asks rhetorically. “I hope so, but we won’t know until we try. I think it’s important to keep these conversations going, and I think there are others out there who do, as well.”

RELATED: Museum adapting to its new COVID reality

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