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Visionary shipping research

ICC Canada, Memorial University to benefit from more than $91-million federal investment

By Jeff Green

A landmark research investment by the federal government will position Canada and Inuit as world leaders in sustainable Arctic shipping.

Memorial University and the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) Canada are co-leading a global partnership to address and respond to the increase in Arctic shipping, the related environmental impacts affecting Arctic communities and to support Inuit communities’ needs for safe and cost-efficient resupply.

Today, François-Philippe Champagne, minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced an investment of $91.6 million over seven years through the Canada First Research Excellence Fund to support the creation of the Qanittaq Clean Arctic Shipping Initiative.

Qanittaq logo of a stylized letter q in two shades of blue. The name is in English and Innutitut.

Largest investment

As the largest research grant ever to be awarded to either Memorial or ICC Canada, the investment will strengthen academic and Indigenous partnerships. The initiative has the shared objective of creating an inclusive and internationally relevant, Inuit-driven research project.

The Qanittaq Clean Arctic Shipping Initiative 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, surrounding policy and governance, and capacity in communities to participate and lead in the future of Arctic shipping.

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.

Lisa Koperqualuk wears a white jacket and top and a seal carving necklace.
Lisa Koperqualuk
Photo: Submitted

“We are honoured to partner with Memorial University on this vital research initiative related to Arctic shipping,” Lisa Koperqualuk, president, ICC Canada. “This comes at a time when there is a huge international focus on Arctic shipping, considering the effects climate change is having on the increase in shipping traffic, and the consequences to the Arctic environment. For Inuit, this will be a game-changer and help position us as leaders in the field.”

Hear from Ms. Koperqualuk in the video below.

The goals of the Qanittaq Clean Arctic Shipping Initiative are as follows.

  • Build a knowledge base to address Inuit shipping priorities, promote the safety of ships operating in the Arctic and protect those environments;
  • Create the tools and solutions needed to improve the affordability, sustainability and efficiency of the Arctic fleet; and,
  • Deliver the evidence necessary to effect national and international policy change for ships operating in the Arctic.

In the video below, Stephanie Meakin, senior science advisor, Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada, discusses the importance of the project.

‘Transformational initiative’

“Through a respectful and meaningful partnership with a vast network of collaborators stretching across several countries, Memorial University and ICC Canada are mobilizing a talented team to respond to critical issues facing the Arctic,” said Dr. Neil Bose, president and vice-chancellor, pro tempore, Memorial University.

“From the beginning, Memorial has been deeply proud to work side-by-side with ICC Canada, Indigenous partners and collaborators to place Inuit priorities as the key goals of this transformational initiative, while building on our university’s international reputation for cold ocean innovation.”

Dr. Neil Bose
Dr. Neil Bose
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Memorial is ideally positioned as the academic lead for the project.

As one of Canada’s top 20 research universities, it is the only post-secondary institution in the country with a stand-alone ocean and naval architectural engineering program and has demonstrated research strengths in a range of multidisciplinary areas, including natural resources, climate change and science and technology.

In the video below, Dr. Wei Qiu, professor, Department of Ocean and Naval Architectural Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, talks about Memorial’s involvement in the project.

Multi-partner initiative

The Qanittaq Clean Arctic Shipping Initiative is co-developed with Inuit organizations and input from Inuit knowledge holders in the Arctic.

It will support research involving various academic experts and teams based at Canadian post-secondary institutions in addition to Memorial, such as the University of Ottawa, Dalhousie University, Université de Montréal and the University of British Columbia.

Canada First Research Excellence Fund graphic of purple and yellow curved lines. The Canada logo is in the bottom right-hand corner.

Inuit partners include the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, Nunatsiavut Government, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., Makivvik Corporation, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and the National Inuit Youth Council.

Numerous key public, private and regulatory sector partners are also contributing to the project.

The initiative will be guided by a comprehensive governance and management structure that includes representation from Inuit partners, academia, government and industry.

The Qanittaq Clean Arctic Shipping Initiative will be based at Memorial University’s St. John’s campus in Newfoundland and Labrador and the Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada in Ottawa, Ont.

Several representatives from Memorial were on hand in Montreal for the announcement on April 28 with the federal government, including Dr. Tana Allen, vice-president (research), and Dr. Qiu.

They were joined by representatives from ICC Canada, including Ms. Koperqualuk, Lisa Smith, executive director, and Ms. Meakin, along with many others.

Learn more about the initiative, its partnerships and research, online.

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