Born in Toronto.
Raised in South Florida.
Based in Halifax.
The only reason I’m here is because I left Canada and was exposed to a racist southern United States curriculum that already had mechanisms to deal with prejudice and segregation… I was often labelled Mexican. Ironically, by checking a box, somebody put me on a scientific community outreach program for underprivileged minority kids – Andrew Medeiros.
Freshwater ecology and Arctic environmental sustainability have been the focus of Prof. Andrew Medeiros’ career as a biologist. This descendant of Portuguese immigrants spends much of his time doing field research in northern ecosystems, studying how they have evolved over the past 10,000 years and how they may respond to present environmental changes.
Andrew Medeiros was born in Etobicoke. His father and grandfather immigrated in the 1950s from São Miguel, Azores, to Toronto, where they opened a fish market on Spadina and Baldwin, which served Kensington Market’s Portuguese clientele. The Medeiros opened several other businesses catering to the Portuguese community. Growing up in Mimico, where there were few Portuguese families, Andrew did not have many opportunities to connect with that heritage. He became further disconnected from his family’s cultural background when his father and multiethnic mother moved to South Florida, when Medeiros was twelve years old.
As a mixed heritage youth, Medeiros had a difficult time integrating in the segregated American South, where the question of his racial identity was frequently asked. As a Canadian of Portuguese background, it was difficult for Medeiros to fit into any of the dominant cultural groups and he was made to feel like an outsider. His interest in science was partly motivated by the fact that it was relatively neutral when it came to cultural identity. Nonetheless, his academic pursuit placed him at odds with his working-class family; particularly his father, who discouraged him from continuing his schooling and expected him to find a menial job to contribute to the household’s finances. In high school, Medeiros was placed in a scientific outreach program for underprivileged minorities after a school official labeled him “Mexican.”
After high school, Medeiros moved back to Canada, where post-secondary education was more affordable and more government and private grants, scholarships, and loans available. He completed his undergraduate degree at Brock University in St. Catherines, and his graduate studies at York University, during which he received funding from several sources, including the Federation of Portuguese Canadian Business and Professionals and the Banco Comercial Portugues’ office in Toronto.
The evolution of northern environments and their sustainability in the face of climate change became the focus of Medeiros’ research. By using biological, hydrological, and geochemical markers, Medeiros investigates how northern ecosystems have adapted to environmental change over the past 10,000 years ands model how they might respond to present and future changes. Medeiros’ research has taken him to the Arctic multiple times in the summer, when the permafrost melts and leaves thousands of lakes, to examine a large area in central Nunavut. He also lived in Iqaluit, Nunavut, for three years, during which he came to learn more about Inuit history, culture, and present day realities. Medeiros found that he related with Inuit students in the Arctic, who had little opportunities or encouragement to pursue higher education or were exposed to science. He has also done work in northern communities to introduce science education to local students.
Medeiros is currently an Assistant Professor in the School for Resource and Environmental Studies at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.
Hora dos Portugueses
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