David Barber’s immense contributions


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 04/05/2022 (392 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Born in Dauphin in October 1960, my friend Dr. David Barber passed away a few weeks ago and I would like to recognize this important Manitoban, who brought so much to our province, our country, and our world.

As a teen in 1975, David Barber helped to build the Fort Dauphin Museum. He enjoyed fishing at a cabin on Waterhen Lake and canoeing to Fort York and Churchill. While doing so, he developed a love of the Arctic and became one of the foremost Arctic scientists in the world. He initially began his post-secondary education in physical education at the University of Manitoba, but after travelling to the Arctic, changed his path and studied the Arctic and arctic ice at the University of Waterloo.

He would go on to lead some of the largest Arctic research projects in the world, becoming one of Canada’s most influential Arctic researchers. He recognized the extraordinary decrease in the size of the permanent ice in the Arctic and that it was the result of global warming. He also organized and led Arctic expeditions to give us a broader understanding of life in the Arctic, both above and below the ice. He put Canada at the forefront of Arctic research and was known as an ambassador of the Arctic and of science.

Dr. David Barber, photographed at his home outside Winnipeg in October, 2020 John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press

He had an innate ability to connect with people who were not scientists. He could take a really complex idea and simplify it so that they would understand. When he returned to Manitoba, he championed changes at the University of Manitoba which brought together a broad range of researchers to study what was and is happening in the Arctic. His ability to write grants and conceive big projects was truly remarkable. Using that skill he helped bring record amounts of about $200 million in grants to the University of Manitoba — the largest amount brought by any researcher in the physical sciences.

In addition to being a distinguished professor at the University of Manitoba, he held the Canada Research Chair in Arctic-System Science, and was known for his ground-breaking work on snow over sea ice and the application of satellite technologies for its characterization. He was the chief scientist on board the Canada research vessel Amundsen, and in 2016 was awarded the Officer of the Order of Canada, which complemented many other awards and achievements during his lifetime. He was very clever, and able to quickly fix things. He had a wonderful sense of humour and was known for his cooking skills on expeditions.

David was an extraordinary individual, not only as a scientist, but as a dedicated family man. He ensured each of his children had their own experiences on an Arctic expedition, starting when they were nine years old. Lucette, Jeremy, Julian, and Jamie were a vital part of his life and they of his. It was a family partnership. He is missed by many.

Jon Gerrard

Jon Gerrard
River Heights constituency report

Jon Gerrard is Liberal MLA for River Heights.

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