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 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 joint letter of nomination by at least two members in good standing of CASCA. No letter should exceed three pages in length. A 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 nominees work is allowed.
After consideration, the RASC and CASCA have coordinated to honour the same person with the Qilak award in 2023, and we are therefore not soliciting new Qilak nominations from the CASCA membership for this round.
2022 Qilak Award
CASCA is pleased to announce that Dr. Karun Thanjavur is the winner of the 2022 Qilak Award, recognizing his outstanding outreach work for a diverse group of beneficiaries, specifically leading efforts to connect Indigenous communities around the province with the University of Victoria.
His projects within the last few years include multiple programs bringing Indigenous students to the university for astronomy classes, labs, and telescope observing sessions, and leading the organization of several activities at CASCA 2018 that connected local Indigenous knowledge-keepers with CASCA members. In addition to these Indigenous-focused programs, he also regularly appears in the media and extensively organizes public outreach with UVic’s on-campus observatory. The 2017 solar eclipse event was wildly successful with ~1500 attendees. As well as mentoring students of many different ages and backgrounds, he acquires observing time on DAO’s Plaskett telescope every quarter specifically for training and mentoring undergraduates. Dr. Thanjavur earned his PhD from UVic and has held positions ranging from marine engineering, to teaching robotics and combustion engineering, to instrument scientist and resident astronomer at CFHT, and is currently a Senior Lab Instructor at UVic.
CASCA is delighted to recognize Dr. Karun Thanjavur’s efforts with this award.
|2021||Jayanne English||University of Manitoba||Colliding Galaxies: Colours and Tones Full Citation.|
|2020||Julie Bolduc-Duval||Discover the Universe||Imagination’s gift. Full Citation.|
|2019||Jan Cami||Western University||Imagination’s gift. Full Citation.|
|2018||Rob Thacker||St Mary’s University||Imagination’s gift. Full Citation.|
|2017||Pierre Chastenay||Université du Québec à Montréal||Teaching & learning astronomy in Elementary Schools Full Citation.|
|2016||Jaymie Matthews||University of British Columbia||When galaxies, puppets and Ashton Kutcher collide. Full Citation.|
|2015||Paul Delaney||York University||Outreach from the York Observatory: 40 Years and Counting! Full Citation.|
|2014||Howard 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”|