Arctic Challenge Grants | Polarjournal
“Improving the daily lives of Arctic and Northern populations through the application of technologies and innovation, under the light of the inhabitants of these regions”  This is the ambition of the Arctic and the North Challenge programme, which aims to increase the skills of the inhabitants while integrating ancestral knowledge into the research project (Illustration: Government of Canada)

Canada is launching a call for proposals for a research program aimed at improving the living conditions of the Inuit while integrating their knowledge into the project

Last week, the National Research Council of Canada launched a call for proposals for development grants for its Arctic and the North Challenge programme. The purpose of these grants is to provide “the resources needed to hold community consultations and ensure that local people support the idea behind the project”, as noted in the announcement published on the Government of Canada website. In other words, involve the local population in the Challenge programme.

Launched in 2019 as part of Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan and its commitment to supporting business innovation, the Challenge programmes are a component of the new collaborative research and development programmes. Bringing together the public, private and academic sectors, the programs are led by the NRC and aim to provide solutions to certain problems encountered by the country.

In yellow and orange, Inuit Nunangat which includes Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, Nunavut and Inuvialuit. Just below, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon (Illustration: University of Waterloo)

The Arctic and the North programme was launched last year with a first call for research project proposals focusing on four main areas, housing, health care, food and water. Four crucial topics for people living in the Canadian Arctic.

Food insecurity affects 70% of Inuit households in Nunavut. Half of the population of Inuit Nunangat lives in overcrowded housing (compared to 9% of the general Canadian population), which contributes to epidemics of tuberculosis as mentioned in the strategic framework for the Arctic and the North published by the Government of Canada last September.

Access to drinking water is a constant problem in the North, the distribution infrastructures being deficient or fragile, thereby reducing the quality of the water, hence the frequent cases of water contamination. As for access to care, it is limited, incomplete and ill-adapted, leading to disproportionate consequences on the general state of health of indigenous populations.

The ambition of the programme is both the participation of local populations in applied research projects and the acquisition of skills in the North, hence the will to prioritise Northern-led research projects that have a strong focus on Northern capacity building,” as stated in a first call for proposals published last year.

Grants for successful proposals will offer an amount of up to C$50,000 (€34,000) over a period of 12 months. Only governments, communities and organisations located in the Northwest Territories, Yukon or Inuit Nunangat (which encompasses Nunavut, Nunavik, Inuvialuit Nunangat and Nunatsiavut) are eligible. The deadline for submitting proposals is 6 October.

Arctic and Northern Challenge programme

Mirjana Binggeli, PolarJournal

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