Heather Sayine-Crawford

Job Title

Cumulative Effects Biologist


Environment & Natural Resources - Wildlife Management

Length of service with the GNWT

5 years


Bachelor of Science, with a Specialization in Environmental Biology

What are your job responsibilities?

I conduct government-funded research in the field to better understand the ecosystem. I also research, observe, analyze and monitor animal habitats in the Sahtu region to determine population, pollution, health and predator-prey dynamics.

How has the GNWT supported your professional development and advancement?

I am grateful to the GNWT for my career.  I would never have thought it possible to be pursuing a career I love at home in the Northwest Territories.

How did you end up working with the GNWT?

I started with the GNWT as an intern under the Northern Graduate Employment Program, after graduating from the University of Alberta in 2008. I was delighted to work with Terry Armstrong, Bison Biologist in Fort Smith.  After my one-year term ended, I was hired as a casual to assist with any research needs and to look after the Bison Control Area.  In January 2010, I began work in Norman Wells as the Cumulative Effects Biologist, and have been loving it here ever since.

Why do you enjoy working for the GNWT?

The work I do helps people make decisions on how to better protect and preserve wildlife populations. I am also able to help people understand more about the wildlife they share a home with.

Can you share an interesting story/work experience with the GNWT?

In August of 2010, two colleagues and I were dropped off at the Palmer Lake sheep study area.  This is a remote area in the Mackenzie Mountains where an annual Dall sheep population survey is held.  We hiked for 12 days, counting and classifying all the Dall sheep we saw.  Going from simple day hikes around mountains to carrying a full pack (with my tent, sleeping bag, food and other supplies) for 12 days in such a remote area was quite an experience.  Not only did we see more than 200 Dall sheep, we saw almost 100 northern mountain caribou, two wolves and one grizzly bear.  I never would have thought that one of the dangers of my job would be walking into a caribou herd as I made my way up a mountain!

What would you recommend to someone applying on a GNWT position?

Take advantage of every opportunity – there are so many chances to get out and do something not stated in your job description that will add to your perspective and show you different aspects of the Northwest Territories.

How do you feel your job makes a difference for Northerners?

I am responsible for wildlife throughout my region.  I monitor their status, habitat and health, assess impacts from human activities, and regulate wildlife protection and use.  Wildlife is a large part of the Northwest Territories’ identity, culture and spirit.  Protecting our animals for future generations is a big responsibility.