Strategic Plan

A Strategic Plan for Polar Knowledge Canada


This Strategic Plan (the Plan) is a high-level guidance and decision-making framework that will help POLAR align its resources and objectives with its long-term vision. It is a broad, overarching document designed to inform POLAR’s five-year Science and Technology Framework1 (S&T Framework), annual work plans, performance management agreements and day-to-day operations. The Plan provides an overview of what the organization is striving to achieve, in order to guide its employees and communicate to its partners and collaborators what they can expect from POLAR.


A sustainable future guided by knowledge and collaboration.


POLAR’s mission is to advance and mobilize knowledge of the polar regions through leadership, partnerships and collaboration on polar science and technology.


POLAR’s mandate, as established under the Canadian High Arctic Research Station Act, is to undertake and support locally relevant and globally significant knowledge creation. POLAR is to encourage synthesis across disciplines in support of evidence-based decision-making. The Act specifically mandates POLAR 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.

What We Will Do: Synthesize Information to Advance Knowledge of the Polar Regions

To promote the best use of its limited resources, POLAR will focus its efforts on collaborative and interdisciplinary work that is driven by the needs of northern communities and the key questions that are significant to its Canadian and international partners.

The organization has two strategic themes, aligned with its mandate and programming: Advancing knowledge creation in the North, and Leading the mobilization of polar knowledge in Canada and abroad. These themes direct POLAR’s resources toward the creation, synthesis and mobilization of knowledge, including Indigenous knowledge, to support sustainable and evidence-based decision making in the Canadian North and other polar regions. The development of the next generation of POLAR knowledge leaders through participation in world-class interdisciplinary research is integral to these themes.

POLAR’s Added Value: Synthesis and Collaboration

POLAR will forge relationships and share information to bridge knowledge gaps directed at creating new knowledge across disciplines. This focus encompasses both the physical space of the CHARS campus and the collaborative exchanges in which POLAR will engage to advance and mobilize polar knowledge.

This approach speaks to the way POLAR will work and to the organization’s unique added value. POLAR will synthesize information to create broadly accessible knowledge products and provide the scientific, technological and Indigenous knowledge insights needed to support evidence-based policy development and decision making.

Advancing Knowledge Creation in the North

POLAR will undertake and support interdisciplinary, locally relevant and globally significant knowledge creation that is purpose-driven.

POLAR will:

  • Operate a world-class hub for science and technology – the Canadian High Arctic Research Station;
  • Produce a Science and Technology Framework (S&T Framework), informed by engagement with rights holders, partners and other stakeholders and focussed on answering key questions;
  • Fund science and technology projects in alignment with its S&T Framework; and
  • Target its own science and technology research and activities to the geographic region around the CHARS campus, referred to as the CHARS Environmental Research Area (ERA).

Leading the Mobilization of Polar Knowledge in Canada and Abroad

POLAR will be a leader in the synthesis and mobilization of knowledge, leveraging partnerships and collaborations to make polar knowledge accessible.

POLAR will:

  • Focus engagement and collaboration within northern and Indigenous communities and organizations;
  • Promote respect for Indigenous, scientific and technological knowledge;
  • Develop accessible information products that synthesize knowledge from multiple disciplines, projects and initiatives; and
  • Advocate for Canadian polar interests within the international community.

As a small organization with a broad mandate and an ambitious vision, POLAR must be strategic in the use of its resources. POLAR will support collaboration that bridges disciplines and synthesizes information for decision makers. The organization will leverage partnerships to advance knowledge creation, dissemination and application. Accessible and useful knowledge products will help establish POLAR’s reputation as an honest collaborator, operating with respect and integrity.

As an organization headquartered in the Canadian North, POLAR will remain engaged with local communities to ensure the work it undertakes respects local priorities and returns meaningful benefits to the North. The implementation of POLAR’s Inuit Employment Plan (IEP) will develop POLAR’s internal capacity through the recruitment, development and retention of Inuit employees. POLAR will contribute to the development of stronger northern science and technology policy and programs through its IEP – ensuring that Inuit have opportunities to share their knowledge, provide guidance and develop new skills within the organization and across the federal family.

Who We Are: Our Values

As an organization, POLAR has identified four core values to guide its day-to-day work and interactions with colleagues, partners, rights holders and other stakeholders:


  • The creation, protection, dissemination and mobilization of information and ways of knowing.
  • Facilitating improved data stewardship and standardized methodologies.
  • Ensuring Indigenous knowledge and scientific findings are available to all Canadians using accessible and plain language.


  • Working with partners and stakeholders to create new knowledge and technologies and to share information on existing practices.
  • Involving northern and Indigenous communities, to support their leadership in knowledge creation and mobilization.


  • For the environment, for different ways of knowing, for our shared history, for people and for each other.
  • Actively listening to partners, collaborators and stakeholders to understand their priorities, issues and concerns.


  • Approaching relationships with honesty and transparency, both internally and externally.
  • Practicing humility and being open-minded.
  • Actively and openly communicating information, including opportunities and challenges.
  • Ensuring information is returned to the hands of northern and Indigenous communities.

What We Will Seek to Achieve: Strategic Targets


  • Scientists and researchers are using the CHARS campus laboratories and facilities to perform purpose-driven, collaborative research and science in line with POLAR's S&T Framework.
  • POLAR is leveraging partnerships to advocate for Canada's interests in both the Arctic and Antarctic.
  • POLAR is engaged with rights holders, local organizations and key pan-northern stakeholders to build relationships and strengthen partnerships.


  • As a hub for engagement, POLAR is able to leverage the CHARS campus to further knowledge creation and dissemination.
  • POLAR is focussing efforts towards interdisciplinary science, research and technology development to create and disseminate innovative solutions to rapid environmental change in the North.
  • POLAR is recognized within the federal family for its innovative efforts to advance fulfillment of obligations under Article 23 of the Nunavut Agreement.


  • POLAR is recognized as a key point of contact in Canada for the international polar research community.
  • POLAR's knowledge products are used by policy makers to inform evidence-based decision-making.
  • The benefits of capacity building and partnership activities coordinated or supported by POLAR are recognized by rights holders, Northerners and other stakeholders.
  • POLAR is an employer of choice in the North and attracts talent from around the world.


The success of this plan depends in part on POLAR’s ability to establish a strong foundation as a stable and mature institution, with effective policies, programs and practices. Over the next five years, POLAR will build capacity and develop modern and innovative program tools that will increase its positive impact across the Canadian North and within the Canadian and international polar research communities. By 2025, POLAR will be a prime source of polar knowledge derived from collaborative interdisciplinary research in Canada. POLAR’s knowledge products will be key tools to support informed decision making by rights holders, communities, Indigenous organizations, governments and international partners.

Comprehensive updates to this plan will be completed and reviewed by POLAR’s Board of Directors at a minimum of every three years. This plan is evergreen, and updates will continue to cover a rolling five-year period.

More information on POLAR’s parliamentary reporting requirements, including its Departmental Results Framework (DRF), Departmental Plans and Departmental Results Reports can be found on POLAR’s website and GC Infobase. For more information on POLAR’s governance structure, programs and operations, please visit POLAR’s website.



  1. The CHARS Act refers to a “science and technology plan”. The “S&T Framework” and its associated Implementation Plan will collectively fulfill this legislative requirement.

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