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‘Inspiring moment’

Memorial University researchers benefit from historic research investment

By Jeff Green

Memorial is supporting Arctic Inuit communities’ needs for safe and cost-efficient shipping while helping to make Canada a global leader in climate science, innovation and solutions.

Thanks to the largest research grant it’s received in its history, the university is playing a major role as co-leader and collaborator on two research projects receiving unprecedented federal support.

François-Philippe Champagne, minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced the latest competition results from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) during a celebration in Montreal on April 28.

Researchers from Memorial, academic institutions, Indigenous organizations and other partners will lead two innovative initiatives.

‘Breadth and depth’

“What an inspiring moment for our research teams,” said Dr. Tana Allen, vice-president (research), who was on hand to meet Minister Champagne and discuss the university’s roles in the projects.

“One of the many strengths Memorial brings to these important initiatives is the breadth and depth of our talented interdisciplinary research teams, which include early-career and established scientists and scholars. We thank the Government of Canada for valuing Memorial’s conscious approach to co-designing projects with Indigenous collaborators and academic partners.”

A group of people stand in front of promotional banners at an information booth.
From left are Stephanie Meakin; Cassandra Elliott; Lisa Koperqualuk; Lisa Smith; Dr. Suzanne Lalonde; Dr. Aldo Chircop; Dr. Wei Qiu; and Dr. Tana Allen.
Photo: ICC Canada

Historic partnership

With the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) Canada, Memorial is co-leading a co-developed project that received more than $91 million in funding — the largest research grant ever awarded to either the university or ICC Canada.

The Qanittaq Clean Arctic Shipping Initiative will address and respond to the increase in Arctic shipping, the related environmental impacts affecting Arctic communities and support Inuit communities’ needs for safe and cost-efficient resupply.

A photo of three people stood in front of promotional banners at an information booth.
From left are Lisa Koperqualuk, president, ICC Canada; Ted Hewitt, chair, Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat Steering Committee, and president, SSHRC; and Dr. Tana Allen, vice-president (research), Memorial University, at the April 28 announcement in Montreal.
Photo: ICC Canada

The project will see Inuit communities and leaders partner with national and international academic institutions, government and industry to develop robust and innovative ship design and operation technologies, bring attention to policy and governance, and build capacity in communities to participate and lead in the future of Arctic shipping.

“Memorial is ready to respond to critical issues facing our world and accelerate important discoveries.” — Dr. Tana Allen

The project’s name and design are reflective of Inuit social values and Qaujimaniq (knowledge) and are built on a foundation of respectful partnership to use resources, Inuit knowledge, networks and technology to find the best collaborative solutions to challenges facing the Arctic.

The Qanittaq Clean Arctic Shipping Initiative is co-developed with Inuit organizations and input from Inuit knowledge holders in the Arctic, and will support research involving various academic experts and teams based at Canadian post-secondary institutions in addition to Memorial, including the University of Ottawa, Dalhousie University, Université de Montréal and the University of British Columbia.

Climate change focus

Memorial is also a key partner on a project, led by Dalhousie University, that received $154 million in the latest CFREF competition.

Transforming Climate Action: Addressing the Missing Ocean brings together multidisciplinary researchers from Dalhousie, Memorial, Université du Québec à Rimouski and Université Laval.

A design with a purple background with the words Canada First Research Excellence Fund and Fonds d’excellence en recherche Apogée Canada in white colour. In the top left-hand corner. In the top right-hand corner is a white maple leaf design. In the bottom right-hand corner is the word Canada in while colour and the Canadian flag. Two gold colour swirly lines are included in the design.

The project will make Canada a global leader in climate science, innovation and solutions by putting the ocean front and centre in the fight against climate change.

The scientific strategy for the project focuses on three key areas: reducing uncertainty; mitigating climate change; and adapting equitably.

More than 170 researchers at the partner universities, spanning diverse disciplines such as oceanography, engineering and social justice, will contribute to the initiative.

“Together with Indigenous and academic collaborators, as well as public, private and regulatory sector partners, Memorial is ready to respond to critical issues facing our world and accelerate important discoveries,” Dr. Allen added.

Stay tuned to the Gazette for future stories about the Qanittaq Clean Arctic Shipping Initiative and Transforming Climate Action.

The Canada First Research Excellence Fund helps competitively selected Canadian post-secondary institutions turn their key strengths into world-leading capabilities. The fund is a tri-agency initiative of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

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