President’s Message

By / par Rob Thacker (CASCA President)
(Cassiopeia – Autumn / l’automne 2021)

Dear Members,

I’ll start by wishing you all well as the fall starts. There are a lot of nerves in the university community – trust me I know as Chief Negotiator for the Saint Mary’s Faculty Union – and I hope that you are able to work effectively with your own administrations to manage COVID-19 workplace concerns effectively.

While a message like this is inevitably quite arms-length, I sincerely hope you are all able to maintain your mental hygiene. While more and more workplaces are bringing in various support mechanisms along these lines, it can still be difficult to find time for this type of self-care when so many other tasks need to be done. I can certainly say I find it difficult, especially as the service part of my work has grown. Personally, one of the most useful things I have learned is how to avoid ruminating. If you are self-critical that can be quite a debilitating habit. I found this talk by Dr Guy Winch especially enlightening.

It has obviously been an extremely difficult summer for CASCA, but as I have indicated discussions are ongoing and I am optimistic that we seem to be moving forward. The end of August saw something of a pause on efforts as multiple people were out of the office until the start of term. I pass on my personal thanks to all those people that have taken time to talk with me, I have learned much. When trust breaks down it is difficult to quickly rebuild working relationships and as a society of volunteers, we rely immensely on labour that is provided for free. Moreover, those efforts are often provided in situations with limited authority and resources. Remember, the annual budget of CASCA is a fraction of a single faculty salary, compare that to CAUT which receives over $7m a year.

As a note, historically we have tended to not spend resources on Board member training so that we can distribute more funds for supporting conferences. As astronomy working practices are evolving so perhaps should our training expectations. With the past two AGMs functioning in virtual form the Society’s financial picture is relative stable and fees will remain flat again this year. We can thus see a potential for devoting a modest amount of funds towards this. The one challenge with this approach is that directors cycle-off on a 2-year timescale, so whatever is put in place can’t be a one-off situation. There are several resources around anti-racism, as well as other topics around inclusion, that I’ve witnessed used with other Boards quite effectively. Note, I am all too aware of “tick the box” criticisms through my union work, avoiding that is important. I’m not mentioning indigenous issues and reconciliation here as that is a very important issue for the Society which I will address on its own in a future message.

In terms of major civic issues impacting astronomy, by the time you read this we will know the outcome of the federal election. The surprise election of a conservative majority government in Nova Scotia is a stark reminder of the uncertainties of polls. To a certain extent the Coalition has prepared for a possible change of government, but there is only so much that can be done. The decision making and bureaucracy systems function at the will of the government, so we are anticipating an inevitable pause in interactions this fall, precisely how long is difficult to know. As a rough timeline, we can expect a new cabinet appointed by mid-October and Parliament to resume in November.

Rather than outlining summaries of the ongoing status of various projects, which are frequently described in more detail elsewhere in Cassiopeia, in this message I’m going to take some time to talk about the Society and what is expected of directors as well as the process by which directors are appointed.

Of course, research continues apace, and I pass on thanks to all the authors that have contributed to this edition of Cassiopeia. If I can just inject one suggestion, I encourage everyone to read Kristine Spekkens’ SKA update as a lot has been happening there. Joanne Rosvick gets another big thank you for her continued duty and diligence as editor of Cassiopeia!

And, of course, my thanks as always to those of you who continue to give your time to CASCA and to the upkeep of our wider community in general!

CASCA Office Update

I need to inform you all that our webmaster Don Hutton had a heart attack in August. He was given a stent, and while discharged after three days and back at work a few more days later, he tells me he is still tiring easily even if his cholesterol is now impressively low after a change in diet and some medication. While I appreciate that the vast majority of you will not have interacted with Don, I am sure the entire membership will join me in passing on our best wishes for a continued recovery.

Expected Duties of Directors

While a President’s report is perhaps not a great place to give a detailed breakdown of the expected duties of directors, I thought it might be prudent to outline what the typical expectations are. For CASCA, because our resources are comparatively limited compared to the number of members we have, we cannot afford to employ an Executive Director. Consequently, the Board must function perhaps more as a “management Board” than desired, arguably the role of Boards is really meant to be oversight and to a lesser extent strategic direction, among other things.

For not-for-profit boards, the generally accepted duties are as follows:

  1. Duty of Care: Directors have a duty of competence, namely the requirement to act with a certain level of skill in making decisions for the organization. The duty of care describes the level of attention required of a director, arguably one might consider it a “duty to be informed,” and to act with competence and diligence. The law doesn’t require directors to be experts, but it does expect that they act in accordance with a reasonable standard of care and to act responsibly to maintain such standards.
  2. Duty of Loyalty: Directors must act honestly and in good faith, in essence putting the best interests of the whole organization ahead of their own interests. The duty of loyalty is a personal duty of directors, it cannot be delegated to management, staff, or volunteers of the organization.
  3. Duty of Compliance (Obedience): An NFP corporation must follow applicable laws and regulations including its own bylaws. This essentially encapsulates that the organization must adhere to its stated corporate purposes in the Articles of Incorporation.

You can easily find many articles on the web that will define further legal duties, but these three high level requirements outline the key expectations of directors. Duty of Care is interesting in that the ultimate standard is that you show appropriate diligence in your role as director. Attending meetings, for example, is considered one of the parts of this requirement. Note I will say upfront that since we transitioned to monthly meetings on top of the longer quarterly meetings it has proven to be a challenge to find slots that work for everyone. Navigating four time zones across nine people each with difficult teaching schedules can be a struggle.

Duty of Loyalty encapsulates all the conflict of interest concerns we often worry about. It is perhaps the most straightforward expectation, but it can be difficult to meet. We may often not appreciate our own biases, for example. Duty of Compliance is straightforwardly understood.

Some of you may have guessed that I have an ulterior motive for the above few passages. Specifically, next year will be a significant one in terms of elections. Moreover, that process actually has to start surprisingly soon. So, I’ll finish this update with an important discussion of the upcoming elections and the bylaw processes that need to be followed.

2022 AGM Board Elections

One of the roles of the Past President is to organize nominations for the upcoming elections as Chair of the Nominations Committee. I had been looking at this with some trepidation, as for 2022 we have a significant slate of positions to fill on the Board. No less than four officer position and two director positions are potentially up for election as both the Secretary and Treasurer have the choice to offer for a second term.

The precise number of vacancies is determined not less than six months before the AGM, and for this year, November 15th is the latest date. I can say upfront that both myself and Erik, as Acting President & Interim Vice President respectively, will not be continuing beyond the AGM, as we are both in these positions under bylaw 9.1, which allows for emergency actions as needed but only until the next election cycle. Thus, both the Presidency and Vice Presidency must be filled by election in 2022. In case anyone is wondering about the normal succession process of the Vice President becoming the President, that is a policy rather than a bylaw. The bylaws themselves state clearly that office of the President is a position that is elected, in practice the succession approach means we have filled it via acclamation (this point has been emphasized at recent business meetings).

In the recent past, the Nominations Committee has frequently had to canvas people in the community and to generate nominations by that process. While always conducted, IMHO, in a spirit of openness, nonetheless the small size of the Nominations Committee has sometimes limited its awareness. I include myself in that criticism as a former member of the Nominations Committee.

With this in mind, I want to remind the community of the full process of nominations is outlined in the Society bylaws. In terms of eligibility, bylaw 5.2.1 states that directors must be ordinary members of the Society, which means those individuals that have either graduated from a PhD or been granted ordinary membership status. Bylaw 5.2.4 then outlines the Secretary puts out a call for nominations six months before the AGM, and nominations must be supported by five members eligible to vote. The role of the Nominations Committee is essentially to prepare a list of candidates and ensure consent of said individuals.

The remainder of the bylaw describes that members should be informed of the list of candidates at least 60 days before the AGM, although candidates can actually continue to be added up to 40 days before the election date. Note, some of bylaw 5.2.4 is archaic in places, in that we have moved to electronic voting, but the meaning is sufficiently clear it is not problematic. It could be changed, but it’s worth remembering every bylaw change must be filed with Corporations Canada so it is not as trivial as just changing a word document.

OK, I hope that clears up the precise nomination process. If anyone has any questions, you are of course welcome to ask myself, or Judith Irwin the society Secretary.

Wishing every one of you a safe and productive fall,


Update from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) / Compte rendu de l’Agence spatiale canadienne (ASC)

By / par Denis Laurin (Scientifique principal de programme, astronomie spatiale, Agence spatiale canadienne / Senior Program Scientist, Space Astronomy, Canadian Space Agency)

(Cassiopeia – Autumn / l’automne 2021)

The English version follows

Missions en cours

JWST (Jean Dupuis et Luminita Ilinca Ignat)

Les derniers tests réalisés en août sur le télescope Webb sont réussis et les préparatifs pour son expédition sont en cours. Le lancement du JWST est désormais prévu pour le 18 décembre 2021. L’équipe FGS/NIRISS participe à des répétitions en vue du lancement du JWST et de la mise en service qui suivra. Pour mettre en ligne les capacités d’imagerie, d’imagerie à contraste élevé et de spectroscopie après le lancement, un ensemble soigneusement défini et séquencé d’activités de mise en service a été développé. Ces activités, planifiées sur une durée de 6 mois après le lancement, permettront de confirmer la fonctionnalité des instruments, de caractériser leurs performances (en les optimisant dans la mesure du possible), d’obtenir des étalonnages initiaux à un niveau requis pour bien planifier les observations et démontrer les séquences opérationnelles essentielles telles que l’acquisition de cibles.

Les applications retenues par la NASA en demande de financement auprès de l’ASC sont actuellement sous évaluations. Un avis d’appel d’offres pour le soutien financier de l’ASC aux propositions de cycle 1 et d’ERS (Early Release Science) a été annoncé au cours de l’été et le processus d’examen (incluant des évaluateurs externes de l’Agence) est en cours dans le but d’accorder un soutien à ces projets d’ici la fin de l’année fiscale en cours.

Le protocole d’entente (MOU) avec le CNRC pour soutenir les opérations scientifiques, ainsi que le soutien à l’Université de Montréal, seront prolongés jusqu’au lancement et à sa mise en service, et nous préparons les renouvellements pour la phase d’opération.

ASTROSAT (Jean Dupuis)

L’ASC continue à soutenir la mission Astrosat (années fiscales 21/22 et 22/23). Le détecteur NUV d’UVIT n’est toujours pas disponible, mais les canaux FUV et VIS fonctionnent toujours bien. Contactez Joe Postma, Université de Calgary, pour plus de détails sur les questions de traitement et d’analyse des données UVIT ou pour obtenir de l’aide dans la préparation des propositions. Les chercheurs canadiens qui ont obtenu du temps d’observation au cours des cycles précédents ont reçu une subvention de l’ASC; la personne-ressource pour le programme de subventions ASTROSAT à l’ASC est Jean Dupuis. Nous encourageons les boursiers d’Astrosat à informer l’ASC de leurs publications récentes ou à venir, ainsi que de tout communiqué de presse en lien avec le projet.

NEOSSat programme d’observateurs invités

Le 3e cycle du programme d’observateurs invités est prolongé jusqu’en octobre avec l’intention d’émettre un AO pour le 4e cycle bientôt. Il n’y a pas de subvention associée aux AOP. Les données sont publiques (sur les sites FTP de l’ASC et du CADC). Une annonce sera envoyée aux membres de la CASCA lorsque le 4e cycle sera ouvert. Des informations sur le cycle précédent sont disponibles ici y compris la liste des observateurs sélectionnés.


Le mission XRISM (X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission) de JAXA, est prévu pour le début de 2023. L’ASC a contribué à soutenir les tests de l’instrument Resolve, ce dernier une importante contribution de la NASA. Le Dr Luigi Gallo, Université St-Mary’s et le Dr Brian McNamara, Université de Waterloo pour l’instrument Resolve en sont membres. Les astronomes canadiens pourront postuler pour du temps d’observation sous les annonces d’opportunités de la NASA (programmes XGS et GO). L’ASC offrira du support financier à ceux qui seront retenus pas la NASA. Les détails seront affichés dans les futures AOP de l’ASC.


L’ASC soutient les opérations du nanosatellite canadien («BRITE-Toronto») au Space Flight Lab de l’Université de Toronto, depuis son lancement en 2013. L’ASC maintient le support aux opérations ainsi qu’un support au scientifique principal au Collège Militaire Royal. Tout soutien pour les années à venir sera, comme avant, soumis à une évaluation d’extension de mission.

Investir dans l’avenir

Équipes thématiques

L’ASC envisage la formation d’équipes thématiques en sciences spatiales, à l’instar des équipes thématiques de 2016, dont 4 en astronomie spatiale, afin d’identifier des objectifs et opportunités futurs. En réponse à la publication du Plan à long terme (PLT) 2020, de la parution attendue du plan décennal américain et du Voyage 2050 de l’ESA maintenant disponible, les équipes thématiques de l’ASC commenceraient théoriquement au début de l’année prochaine; ce sera l’occasion pour la communauté spatiale d’établir des objectifs pour la fin de la décennie et au-delà. Les équipes seraient formées de manière compétitive par le biais de demande de propositions. Cette initiative pourrait être suivie d’un atelier canadien d’exploration spatiale (ACES) en 2022 ; la communauté serait informée et invitée si l’atelier avait lieu.


La mission Ariel (Atmospheric Remote-sensing Exoplanet Large-survey) est une mission de l’ESA du programme Cosmic Vision (M4) avec un lancement en 2029. Ariel est une mission de 4 ans visant à étudier la composition des exoplanètes, avec un télescope de 1 m effectuant des observations dans les bandes photométriques et spectroscopiques, dans le visible et le proche infrarouge.
Le Canada a été invité par le Consortium de la mission à apporter une contribution matérielle à l’engin spatial. Ceci est identifié comme un « cryo-harnais », un câble de données qualifié pour l’espace pour les imageurs opérant à des températures cryogéniques. L’ASC étudie actuellement la faisabilité d’une telle contribution qui offrira en retour des possibilités de recherche scientifique intéressantes à la communauté, conformément aux recommandations du Plan à long terme (PLT) 2020 et du JCSA.

Programme de développements de technologies spatiales (PDTS)

Dans parution de Cassiopeia de décembre 2020, les propositions PDTS pour CASTOR et les technologies liées aux exoplanètes étaient en cours d’examen. Les contrats sont présentement en cours : 1) Technologies de la charge utile pour CASTOR (ciblant les éléments des imageurs, du télescope, du FSM, et d’un photomètre) sous l’entrepreneur principal ABB (Québec), avec Honeywell (Ottawa) et Magellan (2,250K$). 2) Des technologies (y compris la conception optique et les imageurs) liées au concept de microsatellite POET pour l’observation des transits des exoplanètes, par l’Université Bishop (1,000K$). 3) Un développement technologique pour diverses applications d’imagerie à haute sensibilité, y compris la recherche d’exoplanètes, utilisant des EMCCD, par Nuvu Cameras (825K$).


Identifiés comme la plus haute priorité du PLT 2020 dans la catégorie d’une très grande mission d’astronomie spatiale, les investissements ciblant CASTOR se poursuivent à court terme avec un développement technologique important prévu sur deux ans comme mentionné ci-haut. Cela fait suite à une étude scientifique approfondie réalisée en 2019 qui a raffiné les objectifs scientifiques et établi les exigences des instruments.
Une étude de phase 0 devrait suivre ainsi que du développement scientifique, qui fournira une conception de base détaillée de la mission, y compris une estimation complète des coûts et un plan de développement. Une mission aussi importante nécessitera une demande budgétaire spéciale du Gouvernement, car ce niveau de budget n’est pas disponible au niveau opérationnel de l’ASC. Un soutien continu et largement exprimé de la part de la communauté astronomique sera essentiel pour atteindre ces objectifs.
L’ASC explore les intérêts de partenaires internationaux potentiels et demeure en étroite collaboration avec le CNRC HAA pour définir un plan.


JAXA a choisi LiteBIRD comme sa prochaine mission de ‘Large-class’ et des développements sont en cours avec des partenaires internationaux. Le Canada a été accueilli en tant que contributeur potentiel, il y a plusieurs années, pour fournir l’électronique de lecture pour un vaste nombre de bolomètres cryogéniques nécessaires à cette mission de ‘CMB Pol’. L’ASC a investi dans les développements technologiques au courant des années, y compris le travail actuel de PDTS avec l’Université McGill jusqu’à la fin 2021 pour faire progresser cette technologie unique. Ces investissements sont alignés sur les priorités du PLT 2020 qui ont fait de la contribution de LiteBIRD la première priorité d’une contribution à grande échelle au cours de cette décennie. L’ASC discute des progrès avec la JAXA et d’autres partenaires de la mission. Une préoccupation reste, suite au retrait de la contribution américaine qui aurait fourni les détecteurs.

Supports à la communauté (subventions)

Subventions aux cochercheurs – appui aux chercheurs canadiens sur des missions internationales

Le programme cochercheurs a été décrit dans le numéro de septembre 2019 de Cassiopeia. L’ASC en fait un AOP annuel régulier et le prochain numéro paraîtra en septembre ou octobre. Une fois l’AOP publié, une notification sera envoyée par courriel aux membres de la CASCA. L’AOP précédente est toujours visible sur le site Web de l’ASC pour obtenir des informations générales.

L’AOP pour subventions VITES

L’AOP VITES 2021 est actuellement affiché. Avec un budget prévu de 5,28 millions, cette émission fournira des subventions dans 3 catégories de niveau de financement (300K$, 100K$, 40K$) dans divers domaines de recherche spatiale.

Veuillez consulter la page Web du AOP pour une description complète et la date de clôture.

Applications en ligne

Depuis peu, l’ASC propose une application entièrement en ligne (portail électronique) pour la plupart des AOP. Il est nécessaire de créer un compte avant de soumettre une proposition (les instructions sont fournies dans chaque AOP). La création du compte doit être effectuée plusieurs jours avant la date limite de soumission de l’AOP afin de résoudre tout problème technique qui pourrait nécessiter l’intervention de l’ASC.


Le comité consultatif JCSA

La composition du comité est présentement :

Locke Spencer, U. of Lethbridge (co-président)
Denis Laurin, ASC (co-président)
Mike Hudson U. de Waterloo
Jess McIver UBC
Chris Willott, NRC Herzberg
Jeremy Heyl, UBC

Les comités consultatif de l’ASC sont affichés sur la page Web de l’ASC, incluant les termes de référence. Deux membres partiront à la fin de leur mandat; les chercheurs ayant une expérience en astronomie spatiale intéressés par l’adhésion peuvent exprimer leur intérêt aux membres ou co-présidents du JCSA.
Je souhaite à tous un automne coloré!
Denis Laurin

This is a brief update from CSA regarding on-going activities and missions in space astronomy.

On-going Missions and Programs

JWST (Jean Dupuis and Luminita Ilinca Ignat)

Final tests were successfully concluded in August on the James Webb Space Telescope and it is being readied for shipment to the launch site. NASA recently announced a new date for the launch, now 18 Dec 2021. The FGS/NIRISS team is taking part in rehearsals in view of JWST launch and for the ensuing commissioning phase. To bring the imaging, high contrast imaging, and spectroscopic capabilities online after launch, a carefully defined and sequenced set of commissioning activities has been developed. These activities, planned over a 6-month period after launch, will confirm instrument functionality, characterize instrument performance (optimizing where possible), obtain initial calibrations to a level required to properly plan observations, and demonstrate critical operational sequences such as target acquisition.

The Cycle 1 Canadian proposals selected by NASA seeking CSA support are under evaluation. An announcement of opportunity for CSA funding of Cycle 1 and ERS proposals was announced during the summer and the review process (including evaluators external to CSA) is ongoing with the goal awarding support for these projects by the end of the fiscal year.

The MOU with NRC to support science operations, as well as support to Université de Montréal, are extended to launch and commissioning and we are preparing renewals for the operations phase.

ASTROSAT (Jean Dupuis)

The CSA will continue to support the Astrosat mission (fiscal year 21/22 and 22/23). As mentioned in a previous newsletter (Dec 2020), the NUV detector of UVIT continues to be unavailable, but the FUV and VIS channels are still performing well. Contact Joe Postma, University of Calgary, for details for UVIT data processing and analysis issues or for assistance in preparation of proposals. Canadian researchers that have obtained observing time during earlier cycles have been awarded grant support from the CSA (contact person for ASTROSAT grants program at CSA is Jean Dupuis). We encourage Astrosat grant recipients to inform CSA of their resulting or upcoming publications, as well as any related media releases.

NEOSSat Guest Observer Program

Cycle 3 of the GO program is extended to October, with a plan to issue the cycle 4 AO soon. There is no grant funding associated with the AOs. All the data is public (on CSA FTP and CADC). A notification will be sent to CASCA members when the cycle 4 is issued. Information about the previous cycle is available here including the list of approved guest observers.


XRISM is the JAXA X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission, to be launched in early 2023. CSA contributed to support the tests of the Resolve instrument, an important contribution to the payload by NASA. Dr Luigi Gallo (SWG) at Saint Mary’s University and Dr Brian McNamara (Resolve) at the University of Waterloo are members of the teams. Canadian astronomers will be able to compete for observation time (GO) and to the XGS (commissioning phase) programs through the competitive announcements of opportunity from NASA. The CSA will support successful applicants; details will be provided in future CSA AOs.


The CSA has been supporting the operations of the Canadian nanosat (“BRITE-Toronto”) at the University of Toronto Space Flight Laboratory since launch in 2013. The CSA continues to support the operations this current fiscal year, including science support to the science lead at the Royal Military College. Continued support in future years will again require mission extension review.

Investing in the Future

Topical Teams in Space Astronomy

The CSA is considering the formation of Topical Teams in space sciences, similar to the Topical Teams in 2016, including four in space astronomy, in order to identify future objectives and opportunities. Following the publication of the LRP 2020, and the expected release of the US Decadal Plan and the ESA Voyage 2050 now available, the CSA Topical Teams would nominally start early next year; this will be an opportunity for the space community to establish goals for the end of this decade and beyond. The teams would be formed competitively through an RFP. This may be followed by a Canadian Space Exploration Workshop (CSEW) in 2022; the community would be informed and invited should the workshop take place.


The Ariel (Atmospheric Remote-sensing Exoplanet Large-survey) mission is ESA’s Cosmic Vision programme medium-class (M4) mission due for launch in 2029. Ariel is a 4-year mission to study exoplanets’ composition, with a 1-m telescope observing in visible and NIR photometric and spectroscopic bands.

Canada was invited by the mission Consortium to make a hardware contribution to the spacecraft. This opportunity requires delivery of a cryo-harness, a space-qualified data cable from the FPA that can operate at cryogenic temperatures. The CSA is currently exploring the feasibility of making such a contribution which will offer in return exciting scientific research opportunities to the community, consistent with the recommendations of the LRP 2020 and the JCSA.

Space Technology Development Program (STDP)

In my Dec 2020 Cassiopeia update, STDP proposals for CASTOR and exoplanet related technologies were being reviewed. Contracts are now in place: 1) CASTOR payload technologies (targeting FPA, telescope, FSM, photometer elements) with prime contractor ABB (Quebec), Honeywell and Magellan ($2,250K). 2) Technologies (including optical design and imagers) related to the POET micro-satellite concept for exoplanet transit observation, by Bishop’s University ($1,000K). 3) A technology development for various high sensitivity imaging applications, including exoplanet research using EMCCD, by Nuvu Cameras ($825K).


Identified as the top priority in the LRP 2020 for a very large space astronomy mission, CASTOR investments continue in the short term with an important technology development planned over two years as mentioned above. This follows a comprehensive science study completed in 2019 that refined the science objectives and derived the requirements of the instruments.

A Phase 0 study and further mission science developments should follow that will provide detailed baseline design of the mission including full cost estimation and a development plan. Such a large mission will require a special budget request from the government as it is outside the operational budget of the CSA. Continued and broadly expressed community support will be essential to realize these objectives.

The CSA is exploring the interests of potential international partners, and in close collaboration with NRC HAA to define a plan forward.


JAXA selected LiteBIRD as their next large-class mission and early developments are on-going with international partners. Canada was welcomed as potential contributor several years ago to provide the warm readout electronics for the large array of cryogenic bolometers needed for this CMB-Pol mission. CSA has invested technology developments over several years, including current STDP work with McGill University until the end of 2021 to advance this unique technology. These investments are aligned with the LRP 2020 priorities that marked the LiteBIRD contribution the top priority for a large scale contribution in this decade. CSA is discussing progress with JAXA and other partners of the mission. A concern remains to be resolved following the withdrawal of the US contribution that would have provided the detectors.

Community Support (Grants)

Co-Investigator (Co-I) Grants – Supporting Canadian Researchers on International Missions

The Co-I program was described in the Sept 2019 Cassiopeia issue. CSA is making this a regular annual AO with the next issue expected in September or October. Once the AO is released, a notification will be sent by email to CASCA members. The previous Co-I AO is still viewable on the CSA website for background information.


The FAST 2021 AO is currently posted. With an expected budget of $5.28M, this issue will provide grants in three funding level categories ($300K, $100K, $40K) in various areas of space research.

Please see the webpage for a full description and its closing date.

NSERC PDF Supplements

The CSA STEDIA program has recently announced an opportunity to supplement NSERC Postdoctoral Fellows. An announcement was sent to CASCA members. The program broadly addresses space research including but is not limited to space astronomy. See the webpage of this opportunity on the CSA website for details and closing date.

Student Participation to NASA I2

More recently, CSA is advertising for the support to Canadian student participation on the NASA International Internships. See here for details.

On-line Applications

The CSA is offering fully on-line (electronic portal) application submissions for most AOs. It is necessary to create an account prior to submitting a proposal (instructions are provided within each AO). The account creation should be done several days prior to an AO submission deadline in case of any technical difficulties that could arise requiring CSA intervention to resolve.


The JCSA Consultation Committee

The current membership comprises:

Locke Spencer, U. of Lethbridge (co-Chair)
Denis Laurin, CSA (co-Chair)
Mike Hudson, U. of Waterloo
Jess McIver, UBC
Chris Willott, NRC Herzberg
Jeremy Heyl, UBC

The CSA Consultation Committees are shown on the CSA webpage including the Terms of Reference. Two members will be rotating off as they end their terms; researchers with space astronomy experience interested in the membership may express their interest to the JCSA members or the co-Chairs.
Wishing everyone a colourful autumn!
Denis Laurin

Report from the LCRIC

By / par Chris Wilson (LCRIC chair)
(Cassiopeia – Autumn / l’automne 2021)

The Long Range Plan Community Recommendations Implementation Committee (LCRIC) has continued to meet weekly over the summer. We also participated in a joint meeting with Luc Simard, Gilles Joncas, Greg Sivakoff, Kristine Spekkens, and Michael Rupen, who are some of the Canadian leaders in the SKA project. We heard a presentation from Luc Simard about how the SKA project approached the process of gaining consent from local communities in Australia and South Africa.

The LCRIC held several discussions, including one with Rob Thacker and Hilding Neilson, regarding the plans and scope for an Indigenous-focused panel discussion with leaders in the Canadian astronomical community. The current plan is for this panel discussion to take place in November.

The LCRIC continued to work on plans for community consultation and education through a series of three webinars (called “Town Halls” in our previous report) to take place this fall. The first of these webinars, with a tentative title “Including Indigenous approaches in astronomy education”, will be held in October. The goal of this webinar will be to educate CASCA members on some specific actions that they can take to embrace Indigenous approaches to astronomy education in their classes. The second webinar will focus on the theme of inclusion and the third webinar will focus on the theme of land and consent.

The LCRIC is beginning work to identify concrete actions from the LRP2020 recommendations concerning Indigeneity that we can recommend to astronomical organizations such as ACURA and the CASCA Board. We will also be meeting with additional CASCA committees, such as the EPO committee, to discuss LRP2020 recommendations in their area of interest in the coming months.

The LCRIC recognizes that transparency and consultation are very important as our community moves forward to implement the recommendations of the LRP. We will be seeking input from a diversity of perspectives, recognizing that astronomy and astronomers exist with a broader societal context. We welcome feedback and comments at any time, via the Public Discussion page or by email to one of the LCRIC members. Communications will be kept confidential if requested.

No More Academic Pipelines: Rethinking Inclusion in Astronomy

By / par Hilding Neilson (David A. Dunlap Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics, University of Toronto)
(Cassiopeia – Autumn / l’automne 2021)

One of the goals for academia and astronomy, specifically, is to build greater inclusion for Indigenous peoples. This is clearly illustrated in the Long Range Plan 2020. While the goal is clearly discussion, it is not obvious what inclusion of Indigenous people would be and how it might occur. In this brief article, I will discuss what Indigenous inclusion could be and how the astronomy community in Canada can approach the process. This discussion is based solely on my own experiences in academia as a Mi’kmaw astronomer.

There is a popular metaphor for discussing the lack of inclusion of people (women, BIPOC, etc.) that is one of a leaky pipeline. In this metaphor, the pipeline is usually the academic path and the leaks are people that fall out of the system for various non-academic causes. It has been recognized that the metaphor is problematic for many Indigenous peoples because of the politics of physical pipelines on Indigenous lands. Across Turtle Island, Indigenous peoples have been burdened by the growth and demand for pipelines carrying bitumen, oil, and natural gas. This burden is done on purpose because pipelines do leak and engineering these pipelines is designed to have acceptable losses through leaks that will pollute and damage the land and water. This is why we see companies try to build pipelines across Indigenous Nations instead of across Settler communities.

Even though the leaky pipeline analogy is offensive, it is also an apt analogy to describe issues with inclusion in the academy, in science, and in astronomy. It is just not apt in the way most people use it. A pipeline carries material that was ripped from the land, transported thousands of kilometres. The material that leaks pollutes the land and water along the path of the pipeline. Whatever makes it to the other end of the pipeline is burned for the benefit of those with money and power. That is the issue of the pipeline: it is not built to support the material transported but to assimilate the content in ways to support the consumer and the capitalist. This pipeline describes inclusion in academia and it supports those in power instead of diverse people.

This analogy also illustrates the challenges for inclusion of Indigenous peoples because it is built on assimilation and colonization. Astronomy can continue focus on inclusion in this way and it is entirely possible that the number of Indigenous people in academia could grow. But, from experience, this system requires a lot of sacrifice and contributes harm to Indigenous peoples in the field, especially when being Indigenous is inconvenient for those in power.

Instead of assimilation and colonization as inclusion, we should work towards a system of inclusion that centers Indigeneity instead centering Settlers and Settler needs. We have seen examples of the latter in the past few years from how the discussion of the Thirty-Meter Telescope has evolved and the inappropriate responses of a number of Canadian Astronomers (see article here) to incidents at the annual meeting of CASCA (see here). Just these two examples show that there is a lot of work to do to build an inclusive environment. So far the Canadian Astronomical Society has done no work beyond inviting speakers to discuss Truth and Reconciliation and Residential Schools and then promptly moving on and forgetting. Spending an hour listening is not action and is not inclusion. Inclusion involves change and action. To that end, I would like to suggest a model for inclusion of Indigeneity in astronomy.

This model for inclusion is built around three themes: Land, Knowledges, and Persons. These three themes should be considered together and not isolation. Being inclusive of Persons requires actions that create space for Indigenous people in academia and in STEM. This is consistent with the traditional view of inclusion in academia. Being inclusive of Knowledges is about creating stuff for Indigenous astronomy stories and methods in research and education in an equitable way and being inclusive of Land requires understanding where we live and work and our relationships on colonized lands.

These three themes cannot be considered in isolation. Being inclusive of Persons while ignoring Land and Knowledges is assimilation and being inclusive of Knowledges while ignoring Land and Persons is simply appropriation. Both issues are widely understood to be harmful and clearly the Astronomy community should avoid these issues, but it does not always do so. For instance, job advertisements and interviews risk focusing too much on only being inclusive of Persons. In my experience, I have been invited to interview because the committee wanted to be inclusive of Persons, and then arguably rejected because they did not want to be inclusive of Land and Knowledges.

Being inclusive of Land is a more challenging discussion, especially with the Canadian obsession with Land Acknowledgements. However, being inclusive of Land while ignoring Persons and Knowledges is erasure and dispossession. One example of this is seen in the history of place names. Across Canada names are largely based on english and french terms, Settlers who considered important, and names to honour Europeans places such as London, New Berlin,New Paris, etc. All of these names are designed to erase Indigeneity from the land. Even Indigenous names such as Toronto are built on erasure and the superficial reminder that it based on the Haudenosaunee word Tkaronto. One might argue Land Acknowledgements to counter this narrative and are inclusive, but simply noting we work on traditional homeland of certain nations is not change and is simply a tool to assuage Settler guilt. This is especially true if the Land Acknowledgements do not come with commitments for learning, inclusion and decolonizing. The issue of being inclusive of Land becomes more challenging when we ignore Indigenous Knowledges and Person because that inclusive become Colonization.

In the end, Indigenous inclusion is about building relationships with all three aspects: Land, Persons, and Knowledges. This is not an easy thing for academics and astronomers to do, given how much we have benefited from centuries of colonization, assimilation and appropriation and how much we continue to do so. We continue to benefit through the infrastructure and telescopes we build, through the patronage of donors, through the appropriation of the language of colonization in the fight against bright satellites. We continue to benefit when agencies such as NSERC focus on demographics through the Dimensions program or when PromoScience panels fund Settlers to deliver science content to Indigenous communities. We need new models for Indigenous Inclusion.

The Long Range Plan 2020 recommends the formation of two committees that greatly impact Indigenous inclusion: one for Indigenous people and one on land usage. It might be noted that the committee on land usage is important for both Indigenous lands and non-Indigenous lands, most if not all of the ground-based facilities discussed in the LRP report are on Indigenous lands. These committees will have significant influence on the future of astronomy in Canada and on Indigenous inclusion in astronomy. These committees will almost certainly have very little Indigenous representation since there are so few Indigenous people in Canadian astronomy and committee service is voluntary. As such all change will depend on the goodwill and intentions of settlers and based on experiences in the past few years that goodwill is varies significantly across Canadian astronomy and is very conditional on the interests of astronomers. For instance, will Canadian astronomy place Indigenous rights and inclusion over the desire for the Thirty-Meter Telescope on Maunakea as there is no clear consent?

What are some ways to build Indigenous Inclusion? I suggest here three concepts:

  1. Develop protocols for consent of land usage that centers Indigenous rights and methods for issues of usage and environmental impact. As part of those protocols, if consent is not readily available then accept that and cease fighting Indigenous peoples.
  2. Invite and equitably fund Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers to share and lead outreach and education initiatives in astronomy and science. We need to build and nurture relationships with committees and support Indigenous-centered learning over our traditional Western methods.
  3. Fund and equitably support Indigenous scholars to teach and conduct research in Canadian Physics and Astronomy departments that center and uplift Indigenous methods and concepts. I am not aware of any institution in Canada that currently does this, but I am aware of numerous that either center Settler educators in teaching Indigenous knowledges or just treat Indigenous Scholars inequitably.

These are just three quick ideas and is not meant to be complete in any way. There are more recommendation in various Long Range Plan Community Papers and US Decadal Survey papers. Furthermore, as relationships grow then recommendations and needs will also evolve so actions are truly limited to location and time. But, it is time for Canadian Astronomy to take steps of action along with continuing to listen. I do not believe that the Canadian Astronomy community as a whole is capable of taking ethical and inclusive actions to support Indigenous peoples today, but we are capable of changes that will make CASCA and Canadian Astronomy more inclusive in time for the next Long Range Plan, but we have to start now. The time for only listening is over.

IAU and short update

Dear CASCA Members,

Just a short update on a couple of issues: First of all, the online IAU
XXXI General Assembly (GA) Business Sessions are taking place over the
coming 10 days in an online format. While I will attend the primary
business sessions on behalf of the Canadian community, I thought I would
bring to everyone’s attention that on Tuesday 24 August, 15:00 CEST,
there will be a session to discuss the new IAU Resolutions to be voted
on electronically by Individual and Junior Members, between 26 August
and 10 September 2021. The Resolutions are as follows:

  • Resolution B1 in support of the protection of geodetic radio
    astronomy against radio frequency interference
  • Resolution B2 on the improvement of the Earth’s rotation theories
    and models
  • Resolution B3 on the Gaia Celestial Reference Frame
  • Resolution B4 on the use of a standard photometric system in
    ultraviolet (UV) astronomy

Secondly, I have had a small number of emails asking for further
information around the ongoing societal issues around the resignations.
As I noted in the original Board response, I am bound by confidentiality
at this time and I am absolutely sure none of you want me to commit an
ethical breach at this point. As President in a difficult situation, I
take my duty of care to all members of the society very seriously and I
want to reiterate my genuine request that people not speculate. Although
we cannot openly discuss events right now, that does not mean things are
not happening, and I can say I think we’ve made some positive steps over
the past few days. However, I caution that getting to a point where more
details can be discussed openly will take time. It is the end of the
summer and many people are on much needed holidays.

Thank you all for your patience and understanding, and I’d like to wish
you all well for the upcoming semester,