Canadian Government Injects $8 Million into Arctic Science and Tech Initiatives

The government of Canada is finishing the year strong with investments in multiple projects spreading across the country’s three territories.

Carolyn Bennett, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs teamed with Polar Knowledge Canada (POLAR) to announce that 41 projects have been confirmed to receive nearly $8.1 million in funding as a result of POLAR’s 2017-2019 Competitive Funding Process. The 41 different initiatives are split by who is exactly providing funding through POLAR: 30 will be funded by the Northern Science and Technology Program while 11 will be funded by the Knowledge Management and Engagement Program.

“Traditional science and Indigenous knowledge have an important role to play in better understanding, responding to, and facilitating social, environmental, and economic advancements in the Arctic region,” said Bennett. “Through these projects, Polar Knowledge Canada is helping to develop and leverage new knowledge and capacity that supports responsible, informed development in the rapidly changing North.”

POLAR is a federal agency that is responsible for advancing the country’s knowledge of the Arctic through science and technology. There are four areas POLAR looks to address with the 30 science and tech projects: preparing northern sustainability; predicting impacts of changing ice and permafrost on infrastructure and local communities; exploring renewable energy; and catalysing improved design and construction of northern-built infrastructure.

A few technology-driven highlights include the testing of a cross-flow turbine in supercooled Arctic waters; new data diffusion and tech advancements in the North Baffin region; two separate cryosphere monitoring networks in the Yukon and Northwest Territories; and a couple different renewable energy projects.

One of the renewable energy initiatives includes the development of the Old Crow solar project. First proposed in 2016, the project will be the largest solar array in Yukon and provide energy for the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation. Its cost was estimated at $2.3 million when first proposed, but that will have dropped by now due to improved technology. It could generate up to $300,000 in annual revenue for the region.

Exact funding amounts for each of the projects has not been revealed yet, though each project will receive a maximum of $250,000, meaning some projects will most likely not be entirely funded by the government. The organizations behind these initiatives handed in letters of intent to the government in January this year.

“It is through our partnerships that Polar Knowledge Canada can further strengthen knowledge creation and mobilization activity, including through the respectful inclusion of Indigenous Knowledge, across Canada’s North to address the cross-disciplinary priorities that are important to Northerners,” said David Scott, CEO of Polar Knowledge Canada.

The other 11 projects not included in the science and technology bracket revolved around food sustainability, integrating local knowledge and water quality management, among other things.