Wikimedia Canada and Acfas partner with IVADO for the “Data Storytelling” internship

Wikimedia Canada has launched a project in 2019 called “100 years of weather data from Environment and Climate Change Canada in Wikimedia Commons”, funded by Environment and Climate Change Canada. This project aims to import 100 years of weather data into Commons (part 1), and then to valorize this data notably through Wikimedia projects (part 2). Following a partnership with Acfas and IVADO for the second part of the project, Wikimedia Canada is once again joining forces with these two partners as part of IVADO’s “Data Storytelling” internship program by hosting two student interns during the summer of 2021 : Ali Sabzi Dizajyekan (Polytechnique Montréal) and Laurence Taschereau (Université du Québec à Montréal – UQAM). During this internship, Ali, who specializes in data visualization, will work closely with Laurence, who is studying journalism. The results of their projects will be released by this fall.

Hello Ali and Laurence! Please introduce us briefly to your academic background.

Laurence: “I am a student in journalism at Université du Québec à Montréal. Before working in the news industry, I studied law at Université Laval and worked in the wine industry as a sommelier. I have always been interested in environmental issues and social justice, two areas of news that continually intersect. As a journalist, I aspire to democratize news by making it accessible and understandable, in order to raise awareness among a wide audience and to take information out of the institutions that issue them.”

Ali: “I studied petroleum engineering and worked for about 9 years in production data analysis and control. In 2020, I started studying Data Engineering and Analytics at Polytechnique Montréal, to follow my interests in the data and information fields.”

Why did you choose Wikimedia Canada and Acfas as your internship environment for the IVADO “Data Storytelling” grant?

Laurence: “When I heard about WMCA’s Environment and Climate Change Canada’s weather data project, I immediately saw the potential for reporting. As a journalist, having access to so much raw data to support the words of researchers and the testimonies of those who are affected by climate change is very motivating. Furthermore, I would like to explore the idea of pursuing a career in science journalism, and such an internship in environments such as Wikimedia Canada and Acfas is a rich experience, in addition to opening the door to many contacts in the science world.”

Ali: “I chose Wikimedia Canada and Acfas for the IVADO program because Wikipedia is an important source of information for me in my research and work. Wikimedia Canada seemed to be the perfect internship for me to develop knowledge and tools that will serve me as much as they could serve other users.”

What will you be doing as part of this internship?

Laurence: “As a journalist, my mandate is to tell stories about what the raw data shows. I am going to meet researchers who are studying the impacts of climate change in various fields, including urban planning, agriculture and the evolution of ice in the St. Lawrence River. At the same time, in order to promote the ancestral knowledge of Canada’s First Nations, I will meet with members of the Atikamekw community of Manawan to understand how they live and adapt to climate change, since they are in constant contact with nature and have a unique perspective on their territory. These testimonies will be accompanied by Ali’s visualizations representing the Six Atikamekw seasons.”

Ali: “During my internship, I am working on designing and coding visualizations of over 100 years of data from all 8,756 Canadian weather stations. Laurence and I will try to relate some of the data to current issues that Canadian communities may be experiencing due to climate change.”