About Polar Knowledge Canada

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Introduction to Polar Knowledge Canada (POLAR)

The mission of Polar Knowledge Canada (POLAR) is to conduct world-class cutting edge Arctic research. POLAR is responsible for advancing Canada’s knowledge of the Arctic and strengthening Canadian leadership in polar science and technology. Polar Knowledge Canada was created by the Canadian High Arctic Research Act which came into force on June 1, 2015.

This new federal organization combines the resources and knowledge of the former Canadian Polar Commission and the former Science and Technology program at Indigenous Affairs and Northern Development Canada (INAC) into one organization. It will anchor a strong research presence in Canada’s Arctic that serves Canada and the world, and will advance Canada’s knowledge of the Arctic in order to improve economic opportunities, environmental stewardship, and the quality of life of Northerners and all Canadians. POLAR continues to support the Government of Canada’s commitment to and respect of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.

POLAR will operate out of the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS), currently under construction in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut when it begins operating in 2017.

POLAR is led by:

  • a nine member Board of Directors responsible for operational planning and budget oversight
  • a President, who is responsible to the Board for the agency’s day-to-day operations.

Mandate

The purpose of POLAR is to:

  • advance knowledge of the Canadian Arctic in order to improve economic opportunities; environmental stewardship and the quality of life of its residents and all other Canadians
  • promote the development and dissemination of knowledge of the other circumpolar regions, including the Antarctic
  • strengthen Canada’s leadership on Arctic issues, and
  • establish a hub for scientific research in the Canadian Arctic.

Functions

POLAR advances knowledge of the Canadian Arctic and strengthens Canadian leadership in polar science and technology. POLAR has a unique role to advance our collective understanding of polar environments by mobilizing current knowledge produced by others, in a meaningful and accessible way, to address the gaps and concerns of Northern communities.

POLAR consists of:

  • a pan-northern science and technology program, which conducts and supports science and technology research and monitoring across Canada’s North;
  • the world-class Canadian High Arctic Research Station in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, which will be operational in 2017. While under construction the station is the responsibility of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada;
  • A knowledge management, engagement, and coordination function to support polar research, which involves:
    • strengthening and coordinating partnerships and collaboration between researchers
    • helping ensure that research results inform policies and programs
    • supporting the next generation of northern researchers.

POLAR serves as Canada’s primary point of contact with the circumpolar knowledge community, and is Canada’s adhering body to the International Arctic Science Committee and the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research. POLAR also liaises with research organizations and institutes throughout the circumpolar world, providing guidance for multilateral scientific projects relevant to Canadian interests.

Science and technology

POLAR operates a pan-northern science and technology program. Polar Knowledge Canada recognizes the critical importance of broad-based input, especially from Northerners, in the development and implementation of its five-year Science and Technology Plans. This builds on the long history of consultation undertaken by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada in the design of the station and the program.

Priority areas for 2014-2019:

  • Alternative and renewable energy for the North
  • Baseline information to prepare for northern sustainability
  • Predicting the impacts of changing ice, permafrost, and snow on shipping, infrastructure and communities
  • Catalysing improved design, construction, and maintenance of northern built infrastructure

Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS) campus

POLAR’s Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS) campus will provide a world-class hub for science and technology in Canada’s North that complements the diverse network of research facilities across the North, including the members of the Canadian Network of Northern Research Operators.

The station will attract international scientists to work in Canada and strengthen Canada’s leadership position in polar research. The research undertaken at the station will be interdisciplinary and the services offered are further explained in Constructing the research station. Learn more about the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS) campus here.

Consultations

Consulting is an important part of good governance, sound policy development, and decision-making. In addition to good governance objectives, Canada has common law obligations to consult with Indigenous groups. Consistent consultation and engagement with stakeholders have taken, and continue to take place, throughout the design and construction of the station.

Consultation and engagement by INAC staff with Cambridge Bay residents began in August 2010. INAC staff provided an overview of CHARS and discussed next steps in the process and potential partnership opportunities.

Since 2012, INAC has participated in the Kitikmeot Trade Show in Cambridge Bay and more recently has been joined by POLAR to inform residents of scientific results and the progress of the construction of CHARS.

In May 2012, INAC staff visited Cambridge Bay for meetings with elders and for a community town hall to discuss the project and geotechnical work planned for the potential sites.

Regular meetings with the Cambridge Bay CHARS Steering Committee currently take place to ensure that the community is up to date on the progress of the station’s construction.

Throughout the construction of CHARS, INAC staff visited Cambridge Bay for meetings and conferences with:

Consultations on design and construction

Monthly meetings with the Cambridge Bay Steering Committee currently take place to ensure that the community is up to date on the progress of the station’s construction.

Consultations within Cambridge Bay

Every year POLAR and INAC participate in the Kitikmeot Trade Show in Cambridge Bay to inform residents of the progress on scientific results and the construction of CHARS.

Consultation and engagement by INAC staff with Cambridge Bay residents began in August 2010. INAC staff provided an overview of CHARS, discussed next steps in the process and potential partnership opportunities.

In May 2012, INAC staff visited Cambridge Bay for meetings with elders and for a community town hall to discuss the project and geotechnical work planned for the potential sites.

Throughout the consultation process, INAC staff visited Cambridge Bay for meetings with:

Frequently Asked Questions

On this page:

What is Polar Knowledge Canada?

A federal government organization created in 2015 with the following purpose:

  • advance knowledge of the Canadian Arctic in order to improve economic opportunities, environmental stewardship and the quality of life of its residents and all other Canadians;
  • promote the development and dissemination of knowledge of the other circumpolar regions, including the Antarctic;
  • strengthen Canada’s leadership on Arctic issues; and
  • establish a hub for scientific research in the Canadian Arctic

POLAR advances knowledge of the Canadian Arctic and strengthens Canadian leadership in polar science and technology. POLAR has a unique role to advance our collective understanding of polar environments by mobilizing current knowledge produced by others, in a meaningful and accessible way, to address the gaps and concerns of Northern communities.

POLAR consists of

  • a pan-northern science and technology program, which conducts and supports science and technology research and monitoring across Canada’s North;
  • the world-class Canadian High Arctic Research Station in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, which will be operational in 2017
  • A knowledge management, engagement, and coordination function to support polar research, which involves:
    • strengthening and coordinating partnerships and collaboration between researchers
    • helping ensure that research results inform policies and programs
    • supporting the next generation of northern researchers.

How is POLAR governed?

  • Polar Knowledge Canada is a departmental corporation within the portfolio of the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs. It is led by a Governor-In-Council appointed Board of Directors responsible for operational planning and budget oversight, and a President responsible to the Board for the agency’s day-to-day operations.

Where is POLAR’s headquarters?

  • POLAR will be headquartered in Cambridge Bay, NU at Canadian High Arctic Research Station, once it is operational. At present most Polar Knowledge Canada are located at temporary offices in Ottawa, but as housing becomes available, staff will be increasingly based in Cambridge Bay.

What is the Canadian High Arctic Research Station?

  • The Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS), currently under construction in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut will include advanced laboratories, a technology development centre, and a Knowledge Sharing Centre.
  • The Station will provide a world-class hub for science and technology in Canada’s North and will be a major node in the network of research infrastructure across the North, which comprises the members of the Canadian Network of Northern Research Operators.

What are POLAR’s research priorities?

  • POLAR’s S&T priorities for 2014-2019 are:
    • Alternative and renewable energy for the North;
    • Baseline information to prepare for northern sustainability;
    • Predicting the impacts of changing ice, permafrost, and snow on shipping, infrastructure and communities;
    • Catalysing improved design, construction, and maintenance of northern built infrastructure

Is POLAR doing research now?

  • POLAR has completed three field seasons. Research to date includes monitoring of terrestrial, aquatic, and marine environment and wildlife, permafrost research, alternative energy research, community-based research and outreach, and much more is planned over the next few years.

How does POLAR fit in with other research organizations?

  • POLAR fulfills a brokering role, strengthening connections between Canadian science-based departments and agencies, Indigenous organizations, industry and private sector and academia within Canada.
  • POLAR assists research organizations to navigate the Canadian landscape, respect policies, procedures and permitting, as well as the inclusion of indigenous knowledge and traditions
  • POLAR serves as Canada’s first point of contact for the international polar research community to explore opportunities to pursue research in Canada’s Arctic. POLAR is Canada’s adhering body to the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) and the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research (SCAR). Polar Knowledge Canada also liaises with research organizations and institutes throughout the circumpolar world, providing guidance for multilateral scientific projects relevant to Canadian interests.

How is POLAR incorporating indigenous knowledge in its work?

  • Polar Knowledge Canada recognizes indigenous knowledge (IK) as fundamentally important to the creation of knowledge. Specific elements of IK have relevant, unique contributions to make to our multi-disciplinary, cross-cutting knowledge creation efforts.
  • POLAR will lead by example in placing value on IK, and will encourage those we collaborate with, internationally and domestically, to do the same
  • POLAR will provide practical leadership on the use of IK, through the development and sharing of policies and guidelines. The key to effective use of TK is relationships based on equality, mutual respect, and shared commitment to the creation of new knowledge. POLAR will facilitate those relationships by:
    • serving as a broker,
    • sharing best practices
    • ensuring those relationships are developed at the earliest possible moment in the research cycle

Are there jobs for northerners at POLAR?

  • POLAR is committed to ensuring that Northerners and Indigenous people are an integral part of the organization
  • Positions will become available as our operations and funding levels increase and as the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS) becomes operational in 2017. Most POLAR employment opportunities will be in the North, as our headquarters will be in Cambridge Bay, NU.
  • On December 4th, 2015, POLAR launched a staffing process that is open across Canada. This includes entry-level positions in office support and environmental science and technology as well as senior researchers and management.
  • POLAR is currently working to determine the future needs of the organization, which may include positions in additional areas.

How is Polar Knowledge Canada involved in Antarctic research?

  • POLAR is coordinating Canada’s efforts to develop a National Antarctic Research Program that will better coordinate, increase and expand Canadian activities in the Antarctic.
  • POLAR is Canada’s adhering body to the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), which initiates, develops and coordinates international scientific research in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean. It appoints representatives to serve on SCAR’s Standing Scientific Groups and Committees on behalf of Canada.
  • POLAR also communicates important Antarctic news, events, and opportunities to the Canadian polar research community, and Antarctic research to the general public via the Polar Blog and social media channels.
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