Ocean Frontier Institute names Catherine Blewett as its first chief strategic engagement officer

- August 17, 2020

New OFI strategic engagement officer Catherine Blewett. (Provided photo)
New OFI strategic engagement officer Catherine Blewett. (Provided photo)

The Dal-led Ocean Frontier Institute (OFI), Canada’s transnational ocean research hub created to study the world’s most pressing ocean issues, has announced the appointment of Catherine Blewett as its first chief strategic engagement officer.  

Blewett comes to the OFI after a long and distinguished career in provincial and federal public service, most recently as Deputy Clerk of the Privy Council and Associate Secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet. Since March 2019 she has been Canada’s representative for the international High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, a unique group of world leaders committed to developing, catalyzing, and supporting solutions for ocean health and wealth in policy, governance, technology and finance.

“OFI is delivering ocean research in a new collaborative way, and I am excited to use my knowledge and skills to share those results where they can help inform policy, assist in advancing industry and make sure the Institute’s voice is part of global ocean conversations,” says Blewett.

“I have a strong passion for the ocean and it has been a privilege to contribute to Canada’s global leadership in ocean science and conservation. I am delighted to accept this position, which brings me back to my home in Nova Scotia at a time when our most essential resource is facing crucial challenges.”

Accomplished leadership

Previous to her current position, Blewett served as Canada’s Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Oceans where she led on oceans for the G7 and achieved the country’s Mandate on Ocean Protection targets of 5 per cent by 2017. She also led the development and implementation of key fisheries legislation between June 2016 and December 2018.

From 1990 until her departure to Ottawa in 2016, she has held many increasingly senior positions in the Nova Scotia provincial government, most recently as Clerk of the Executive Council and Secretary to Cabinet, Government of Nova Scotia. Her previous portfolios included the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), Citizenship and Immigration, Office of Aboriginal Affairs, and Intergovernmental Affairs.

“She has the full package of national and international experience  we need at the OFI as we move into our delivery phase,” says Anya Waite, OFI’s scientific director and CEO. “Along with government knowledge, her strong background with industry and intergovernmental affairs will help us expand our profile and deepen our role as an emerging world leader in ocean research.”

Ocean impact

Alice Aiken, vice-president research and innovation at Dalhousie and chair of OFI’s executive committee — its governing body — says the announcement is a significant boost for the institute

 “Catherine Blewett is known and respected nationally and internationally and will be a catalyst for elevating our work and reputation as we deliver outputs to Canadians,” says Dr. Aiken.

OFI links ocean researchers at Dalhousie, Memorial University and University of Prince Edward Island with leading national and international collaborators to deliver research results and recommendations to inform government policy, community development, and industry needs. It was founded in 2016 thanks to a $94-million grant from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund designed to position Canada to become a global leader in the search for safe and sustainable solutions for harnessing the world’s ocean resources.


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