Guidelines and Information

Polar Knowledge Canada – Call for Funding Applications 2020-2023




Our Programs

The Northern Science and Technology (NST) Program aims to anchor a strong research presence in Canada’s Arctic. This program will create an environment in which both Indigenous and local knowledge and science contribute to addressing challenges in the Arctic.

The Polar Knowledge Application (PKA) Program aims to promote and further strengthen science and technology nationally and internationally and build science capacity through training, outreach, increased knowledge sharing and learning opportunities. The program aims to enhance and build awareness of the polar regions across Canada through fostering collaborations with other organizations to promote Canadian northern science and technology and advance the next generation of researchers and highly qualified personnel.


Call for Funding Applications Themes

To be considered, projects must pertain to Canada's North and must address at least one of the themes under the Northern Science and Technology (NST) or the Polar Knowledge Application (PKA) Programs, as described below.

Northern Science and Technology Program (NST)

NST Theme 1: Understanding dynamic northern ecosystems in the context of rapid change.

Under this theme, projects must focus on either one of the following sub-themes:


The development of baseline information on northern terrestrial and marine ecosystems through cryosphere and ecosystem-based scientific research, and Indigenous knowledge in the geographic region in the map below (refer to map*).



Terrestrial ecosystem change in support of an existing National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE) project.
*Projects can be in the approximate area of the geographic boundary outlined in the map. If you are unsure if the geographic area for your project is eligible, please contact POLAR.

NST Theme 2: Advancing sensible energy, technology and infrastructure solutions for the North

Under this theme, projects must focus on one or more of the following sub-themes:


Testing and demonstrating pre-commercial or commercially available clean energy technologies prior to deployment to remote northern communities.


Waste and wastewater treatment technologies that will decrease pressure on landfills and improve water treatment facilities to contribute to the reduction of health risks from open burning and leaching of contaminants into the environment.


Innovative approaches to facilitate the development of affordable, culturally informed homes that can be constructed and maintained using the growing capacity available within northern communities.

NST Theme 3: Bridging northern community wellness and environmental health

Under this theme, projects must focus on one or more of the following sub-themes:


Changes in abundance and diversity of country foods and their predators through community-led research in ecosystems, including how these changes affect food security and wellness.


Knowledge of diseases in northern wildlife by examining how resident or migratory wildlife can act as reservoirs and/or vectors for disease affecting food webs, community health and regional food security.


The effects of environmental change on community wellness by advancing knowledge on mitigation and adaptation of communities to environmental change, in particular water quality, local pollution, and waste management.

Polar Knowledge Application Program (PKA)

Under this program, projects must relate to POLAR’s functions to advance knowledge of the Canadian Arctic and strengthen Canadian leadership in northern science and technology as well as address one or more of the following themes:

PKA Theme 1: Indigenous Knowledge

Application of Indigenous knowledge in northern research activities to contribute to facilitating the creation of new knowledge and supporting decision-making. Projects can support use of Indigenous knowledge at any stage of the research cycle, from setting research priorities to interpreting results to sharing information and disseminating knowledge products.

PKA Theme 2: Capacity Building

Strengthening individual capacity through initiatives that inspire, motivate, and support youth and early career researchers to pursue careers in northern science, technology, engineering, math and computer sciences and/or that increase opportunities for Indigenous and local leadership in research and monitoring.

PKA Theme 3: Research coordination

Enhancing research coordination to strengthen the capacity of northern communities to participate in and influence northern research. This should involve providing research advisory and community liaison functions by coordinating communities’ involvement and supporting engagement between researchers and communities in domestic and international research initiatives, including for the implementation of the Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation.

PKA Theme 4: Data Stewardship

Improving science and technology data stewardship for evidence-based decision-making. This will involve supporting northern organizations to manage data and Indigenous knowledge according to their needs and requirements. This could include establishing data infrastructure and/or the development of organizational policies and procedures on data standards, data sharing agreements, intellectual property rights, and interoperability of datasets. Data management activities will be supported if they contribute to enhancing data catalogues, search and discovery, access, and/or increasing the types of polar data available to communities, researchers and the Canadian public. Projects that enhance services or develop new services must be interoperable with current systems and networks. Projects must use existing standards and protocols utilized within the polar data community to ensure compatibility with current data networks and repositories.

All efforts should be made to adhere to the Government of Canada Directive on Management of Information Technology.

PKA Theme 5: Knowledge Mobilization

Mobilizing Indigenous knowledge and scientific findings for use by communities and decision-makers in the north. This could include translating research into plain language and Indigenous languages, improving public access to information and enhancing knowledge outreach by connecting researchers and Indigenous knowledge holders to diverse audiences across Canada.
IMPORTANT: For projects that apply only under PKA Theme 5, the project must propose to mobilize knowledge for at least one of the three themes of the NST Program.


Key Dates


  • Submission Deadline: April 30, 2019 23:59 PM (PT)
  • All applicants will be notified of the Initial Screening Results: June 30, 2019
    • Projects that do not meet the mandatory requirements will not move to the next level of the assessment process and will not be considered further.
    • Projects that meet all mandatory requirements will move to the next level of the assessment process.
  • Notifications to successful and unsuccessful applicants: November 2019
  • Negotiations of funding agreements to be completed by: March 24, 2020
  • Project Start: No earlier than April 1, 2020


Available Funding and Duration


Total Funding Available
The maximum amount of funding considered per project is $150,000 per year for up to 3 years. The total request for funding for each project cannot exceed $450,000.


Other Sources of Funding
Projects must be supported by other sources of funding that contribute to the direct costs of the project. This support can be in the form of financial or in-kind* (non-financial) contributions and can come from project partner(s), other funding sources or the organization applying for funding.

* In-kind contributions are non-monetary goods or services (resources) provided to the project by sources other than POLAR, which, if not donated, would have to be spent with project funds. Donations of money are categorized as financial contributions, and not as in-kind.

For projects submitted to the Northern Science and Technology Program:

Up to $50,000 total funding requested from POLAR – Applicants must demonstrate that they have obtained other sources of funding to support this project; however there is no set minimum amount of funding that will be required from other sources.

Between $50,001 and $450,000 total funding requested from POLAR – Other sources of funding must represent 50% of the total POLAR funding amount. The match funding must be confirmed via letters of support or other acceptable documentation confirming the details of funding, such as funding approval letters.

For projects submitted to the Polar Knowledge Application Program:

Applicants must demonstrate that they have obtained other sources of funding to support this project; however there is no set minimum amount of funding that will be required from other sources.


Project Duration


POLAR will support projects that will start no earlier than April 1, 2020 and will span for a period of 1 to 3 years. All projects must have an end date of March 31, 2023 at the latest.


  • POLAR will determine the funding amounts based on the financial needs for each project, in consideration of the following:
  • The amount of funds available;
  • The amount of funding required to achieve expected project results;
  • The volume of applications received; and
  • The merit of a specific application as determined by the Program’s Evaluation criteria


Decisions regarding eligibility and funding amounts are final.
NOTE: POLAR’s fiscal year runs from April 1 to March 31.




Partnerships and Letters of Support


All projects must include a partnership with a northern-based or Indigenous organization, except where the project applicant is itself a northern-based or Indigenous organization.


Letters of support are required from all active partners and they must describe their role as well as the level, duration, and type of support (financial and/or non-financial) planned for the project.




  • The following Canadian organizations are eligible to submit an application:
  • Educational and academic institutions;
  • Provincial, territorial, regional and municipal governments;
  • Indigenous organizations;
  • Northern communities;
  • Not-for-profit and non-governmental organizations; and
  • For-profit organizations.

NOTE: Federal government departments/agencies and international organizations are not eligible for funding, but may participate in the project as a partner.


Geographic Scope


Projects must take place or apply to any of the following regions:


  • Yukon
  • Northwest Territories
  • Nunavut
  • Nunavik
  • Nunatsiavut


Eligible Expenditures


POLAR will only fund project-related expenditures that are pertinent, reasonable and essential to accomplish the objectives of an eligible project and that fall under the following classes of expenditures:


Personnel (salaries, benefits & wages): Salaries of staff directly involved in carrying out project activities, and can include full- and part-time staff, trainees (college, undergraduate, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows) and international researchers.


Professional Fees and Services: Fees to be paid to individuals (consultants, contractors, specialists, or community members) having the required qualifications, knowledge and/or expertise.


Tuition Fees: Includes other compulsory student fees.


Travel, Hospitality, Conferences and Events: All expenditures related to travel, hospitality, conferences and events must be in compliance with the Travel Directive.


- Travel: Expenditures to and from a destination
- Hospitality: Food & beverages being provided, facility rental, information technology and audio visual equipment rental.
- Meals and Incidentals: Daily meals and incidental expenditures.


Materials, Equipment and Supplies: Purchase costs which may include office/laboratory supplies, electronic devices, lab/field consumables, miscellaneous field supplies/equipment, publication fees, promotional materials, printing, photocopying, communication, repair, maintenance, and upgrade costs.
Rentals: Costs for rentals which may include: office/lab space, storage fees, equipment (truck, boat, aircraft and helicopter, etc.) Costs for rentals which may include: office/lab space, storage fees, equipment (truck, boat, aircraft and helicopter, etc.)


Postage and Shipping: Costs for postage & shipping of supplies/materials/equipment.


Communications: Translation costs, methods for dissemination of results (e.g. reports, videos, CD- ROMs, web-pages), page charges for articles published, costs for preparing and publishing research manuscripts.


Other (specify): Includes all other costs directly related to the project that have not been captured within any of the specific categories above. These may include honoraria for Indigenous Elders and community experts, administrative fees, etc.


In all cases, administrative expenditures are limited to a maximum of 15% of the total project funding allocated by POLAR.


Ineligible Expenditures


Expenditures that will not be considered for funding include:


  • Costs of the organization’s ongoing operational activities. POLAR funding is not intended to support long-term activities that should be carried out as part of the organization’s mandated activities;
  • Any costs not directly related to the project;
  • Administrative fees that exceed 15% of the total project funding allocated by POLAR;
  • Unidentified miscellaneous costs;
  • Travel and hospitality expenditures that exceed those in the Travel Directive;
  • Rental charges for space and equipment that is owned by the recipient organization; and
  • Capital expenditures.


Applicant Responsibilities

The applicant is responsible to ensure that the following are appropriately incorporated in the project, as applicable.


Research Ethics, Permits and Licensing


Before conducting project activities, the applicant is responsible and accountable to determine and obtain all applicable permits, ethics approvals, and licenses required by territorial and federal governments or Indigenous governments and/or land claim organizations. These may include but are not limited to:
- Research Ethics
- Environmental Assessments
- Licensing


NOTE: Although proof of approval/permits/licenses is not required through this funding application process, POLAR may request these documents at any time if the project is approved for funding.


Community Engagement


Community engagement is a fundamental element of POLAR-funded projects. Community engagement activities are key to ensure a meaningful exchange of information, and will enhance collaborative activities. The outcomes of these community engagement activities will also provide more detailed evidence to support community relevance and benefit. Community-researcher relationships should be established early on in the project planning process, outlining details of the level of engagement and roles and responsibilities of each partner.


Official Languages


The Government of Canada is committed to enhancing the vitality of the English and French linguistic minority communities in Canada (Francophones living outside the province of Quebec and Anglophones living in the province of Quebec), supporting and assisting their development, and fostering the full recognition and use of both official languages in Canadian society. Projects must be available in one or both official languages depending on the reach and audience. For additional information, consult the Official Languages Act - Part IV


Indigenous Languages


Polar Knowledge Canada recognizes the importance of supporting the preservation, revitalization and promotion of Indigenous languages. The applicant is encouraged to take measures to communicate and provide project-related services and products in the Indigenous language(s) spoken by the targeted northern organizations and/or Indigenous groups.


Gender-based Analysis


The Government of Canada is committed to Gender Based Analysis. GBA+ incorporates consideration of gender as well as other identity factors such as age, education, language, geography, culture and income in the development of policies and programs.


Canadian High Arctic Research Station


Applicants requesting in-kind research support on the CHARS campus must submit a separate request using POLAR’s Research Support Request Form. Refer to POLAR Research Support for more information on the procedures and evaluation criteria.


Natural Resources Canada’s Polar Continental Shelf Program


The Polar Continental Shelf Program (PCSP) provides logistics services for field research throughout the Canadian Arctic that is conducted by Canadian government, university, northern, independent and international research organizations.


Under the current agreement between Polar Knowledge Canada (POLAR) and PCSP, projects supported by POLAR’s Science and Technology program are eligible for PCSP’s logistics coordination assistance on a recoverable expenditure basis only.


Applicants are strongly encouraged to proceed with submitting logistics requests to PCSP. For more information regarding eligibility and timelines refer to PCSP’s Arctic Logistics Requests webpage.


Applicants should also include the estimated costs for logistics services coordinated by PCSP (or another logistics supplier) in their project budget as part of their application to POLAR.


“Recoverable expenditures” refer to any expenditure related to logistics services or other specific costs of project logistics paid in advance by PCSP on behalf of a client, which must be reimbursed to PCSP as indicated in the cost-sharing arrangement. These expenditures may include the costs associated with loan of field equipment, charter aircraft hours, fuel, accommodations at the PCSP facility in Resolute.


External Reviewers

Applicants must provide the name, title and contact information of at least one (1) and up to five (5) recommended external reviewers who are willing and able to provide a comprehensive, unbiased and critical review of their proposal.

The reviewers must be relevant subject-matter experts and not have collaborated with members of the project team in the last two years.

Consider linguistic ability and potential conflicts of interest. Suggested reviewers should not come from the applicant’s own organization or from a partner organization providing a letter of support or financial contributions to the project.

Consider linguistic ability and potential conflicts of interest. Suggested reviewers should not come from the applicant’s own organization or from a partner organization providing a letter of support or financial contributions to the project.

The suggested reviewers must be aware that their names are being provided to POLAR.


Assessment Criteria

POLAR will fund projects that have clear objectives and measurable results. Funding decisions will be based on the number and quality of applications received. Your funding application will first be reviewed for eligibility, and if all mandatory eligibility requirements are met, it will then be assessed by a Multi-Stakeholder Review Committee using the assessment criteria below.

  • Project Objectives
  • Are the objectives appropriate in clarity and scope and achievable?
  • Are the objectives well aligned with the selected NST or PKA theme(s)?
  • Does the proposed project demonstrate originality and significant impacts in relation to what the project is aiming to achieve under the selected theme(s)?
  • Community Engagement
  • Has the applicant demonstrated a sufficient level of community engagement and support for the project?
  • Are the past or planned community engagement activities clearly outlined?
  • Are the engagement activities culturally appropriate to the local region(s)?
  • Do the engagement activities align with the objectives of the project?
  • Project Relevance and Impact
  • Is the project relevant and responsive to the needs and priorities expressed by the target community/region?
  • Does the project clearly address a priority or gap?
  • Does the project have a significant impact on local, regional, and/or northern needs and priorities?
  • FOR PKA THEME 5 (Knowledge Mobilization): Has the applicant demonstrated the relevance and value of the knowledge to be mobilized, particularly with respect to its potential use by communities and decision-makers in the north?
  • Project Approach and Methods
  • Are the project approach and methods suitable and feasible to meet the project objectives?
  • Does the project build upon existing resources, combine activities and/or avoid duplication?
  • Has the applicant satisfactorily explained how northern partners and/or Indigenous knowledge will contribute to the process?

Organization and Team

  • Organization’s experience
  • Has the applicant clearly demonstrated how the lead organization has the relevant skills, interest, and experience to carry out the proposed project?
  • If the lead organization does not have previous experience that is directly comparable to this proposed project, has the lead organization demonstrated its ability to carry out the proposed project in some other way?
  • Team expertise
  • Is the composition of the project team appropriate to carry out the project, in terms of complementarity of knowledge and/or skills? Is there sufficient evidence to suggest that the team would be capable of successfully carrying out the project?
  • Has the applicant provided evidence of the team’s experience working in/with the region where the project will take place?

Capacity Building and Training - Applies to projects under the NST program ONLY

  • Has the applicant clearly described how a capacity building or training component will be incorporated into the proposed project?
  • Are the opportunities to contribute to the project for the capacity building or training component appropriate for the scope of the activities?
  • Dissemination of Results
  • Does the dissemination plan demonstrate a feasible strategic approach and sincere commitment to sharing the results and outcomes of the project?
  • Are the activities appropriate for the scope of the project?
  • Is the target audience appropriately identified for each dissemination goal?
  • Appendix A – Workplan
  • Do the activities listed in the workplan appear to be feasible and reasonable to carry out the project?
  • Are the activities clear and well-aligned with the objectives of the project?
  • Are the proposed timelines realistic and feasible?
  • Do the expected results align with the project objectives?
  • Are the expected results specific and measurable?
  • Are appropriate leads identified for each project activity?

Appendix B – Detailed Budget

  • POLAR Funding
  • Has the applicant provided a sufficient level of detail to justify all budget items?
  • Is the level of funding being requested from POLAR appropriate for the size and complexity of the project?
  • If applicable, are the administration fees within 15 % of the annual funding total project?
  • Other Sources of Funding
  • Has the applicant demonstrated that the project is supported by other sources of funding?
  • For NST projects requesting funding between $50,001 and $450,000, do these other sources of funding represent 50% of the funding being requested from POLAR?
  • Are the other sources of funding supported via letters of support or other acceptable documentation which confirm the details of funding?
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