The Qilak Award for Astronomy Communications, Public Education and Outreach

The Qilak award was developed jointly by the Beyond International Year of Astronomy group (a collaboration of CASCA, the FAAQ and the RASC). Established in 2011, these Awards are given, one by each of the sponsoring organizations, with a common purpose and evaluation criteria. The Qilak Award recognizes individual Canadian residents, or teams of residents, who have made an outstanding contribution either to the public understanding and appreciation of astronomy in Canada, or to informal astronomy education in Canada. Beginning in 2018, CASCA will separate award cycles to recognize outreach efforts accumulated over a career in odd years and recent and impactful outreach activities in even years. Nominations should carefully outline why a given nominee or group of nominees falls with a specific category. In recognition of the nuances associated with group nominations, the Award can only be received by a specific group once every 8 years. Individual nominees may only win the Award once, and individual Award winners may not be nominated as part of a group award. The Award is open to all CASCA members.

One goal of the award is to promote such activities among the members of the sponsoring organizations. The recipient of the CASCA Qilak award will write an invited article for the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (JRASC), and will be offered the opportunity to address the membership at the Annual General Meeting of the Society.

The nomination package must consist of

  • A letter of nomination (self-nominations are accepted). No letter should exceed three pages in length. The letter of nomination should highlight how the nominee, or team of nominees, have distinguished themselves in astronomy outreach or communication, and/or cite exceptional achievements. Additional material such as examples of a nominee’s work is allowed.
  • The CV of the nominee

Please submit nomination packages entirely in electronic form to the Chair of the Awards committee.

2024 Qilak Award

Laurie Rousseau-Nepton

CASCA is pleased to announce Dr. Laurie Rousseau-Nepton as the winner of the 2024 Qilak award, recognizing recent and impactful outreach activities.


Dr. Rousseau-Nepton received her PhD from Université Laval, and following a Resident Astronomer position at the Canada France Hawai’i Telescope, joined the faculty of the University of Toronto. Dr. Rousseau-Nepton receives this recognition for her leadership in and involvement with the award-winning and ground-breaking National Film Board of Canada documentary North Star/Étoile du Nord, which she co-directed, co-wrote and starred in, as well as for her associated outreach activities. This film and outreach activities have had, and will continue to have, important and broad impacts on public understanding and appreciation of the science of astronomy. In sharing her journey with young people, the film promotes the participation in astronomy of under-represented groups, in particular women and Indigenous people. In parallel to North Star, Dr. Rousseau-Nepton did weekly presentations to schoolchildren in Hawai’i and also did about 60 presentations to school classes in Canada through Connected North, a non-profit organization whose mission is to bring educational resources to remote Indigenous communities.

CASCA is delighted to recognize Dr. Rousseau-Nepton for these outstanding outreach contributions.

Recipients to date have been:


2023 Wilfred BuckWilfred Buck University of Victoria Sharing Indigenous perspectives Full Citation.
2022 Karun ThanjavurKarun Thanjavur University of Victoria Connecting Indigenous communities Full Citation.
2021 Jayanne-EnglishJayanne English University of Manitoba Colliding Galaxies: Colours and Tones Full Citation.
2020 Bolduc-DurvalJulie Bolduc-Duval Discover the Universe Imagination’s gift. Full Citation.
2019 CamiJan Cami Western University Imagination’s gift. Full Citation.
2018 ThackerRob Thacker St Mary’s University Imagination’s gift. Full Citation.
2017 ChastenayPierre Chastenay Université du Québec à Montréal Teaching & learning astronomy in Elementary Schools Full Citation.
2016 MatthewsJaymie Matthews University of British Columbia When galaxies, puppets and Ashton Kutcher collide. Full Citation.
2015 DelaneyPaul Delaney York University Outreach from the York Observatory: 40 Years and Counting! Full Citation.
2014 Trottier_Howard (11)finsmHoward Trottier Simon Fraser University The IYA and Beyond at Simon Fraser University. Full Citation.
2013 James Hesser National Research Council of Canada Provocative Reflections on Communicating Astronomy in 2013 Canada. Full Citation.
2012 John R. Percy University of Toronto “A Half-Century of Astronomy Outreach: Reflections, and Lessons Learned”

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