We help Canadians work together to realize our shared Arctic vision.


Our projects

ARF’s unique, collaborative projects fuse art, science and culture to create new Arctic infrastructure and promote sustainable economic development. The foundation’s work is guided by the Canada-US Shared Arctic Leadership Model that espouses “conserving Arctic biodiversity through science-based decision-making...incorporating Indigenous science and traditional knowledge into sustainable decision-making…[and] building a sustainable Arctic economy.”

Kitikmeot Sea Science Study - Kitikmeoni Imakmiut Ilihauyuhiit

A fundamental understanding of the Kitikmeot marine region and its ecosystem is required as a basis for responsible marine and resource management. The region is also undergoing unprecedented change due to climate and increased economic activity. However, gaining such knowledge has been limited by the high cost of gathering oceanographic data in the Arctic, in general, and the high cost of large icebreakers, in particular. Therefore, we propose a strategy that is based on the use of small, efficient and scientifically capable vessels, costing less than a tenth of icebreakers, offering broader access to shallow and uncharted waters, and offering a longer operating season than vessels that overwinter in the South. This project, based in and operating out of Cambridge Bay, will address the fundamental linkages between ocean physics, marine and terrestrial geochemistry, and ecosystem and food-web dynamics, and will also engage local residents, artists, elders, students and management officers.

The Kitikmeot Region Marine Science Study will bring a diverse, international team of scientists from Canada, the United States and Norway to perform a multidisciplinary, integrated exploration of Coronation Gulf, Queen Maud Gulf and Chantry Inlet (herein the Kitikmeot marine region), using ARF’s ship, R/V Martin Bergmann. This will provide a baseline oceanographic description that includes:

  • exploration of remote areas of the Kitikmeot marine region in collaboration with traditional knowledge holders;
  • evaluation of the importance of tidal straits in the region as biological hot spots for the water column and for the benthos; and
  • a model of the functioning of the Riverine Coastal Domain, its geochemistry, biology and physical oceanography. 

Results will be communicated via primary publications and community consultations and will inform the project’s initiation of marine monitoring in the region. The exploration and science plan will be guided by both the expertise of our team of scientists and by collaboration with traditional knowledge holders invited aboard the Bergmann. Local residents will be engaged in sample collection near local communities. 

Our model of ecosystem functioning in the Kitikmeot marine region, when effectively communicated, will improve plans for northern sustainability of marine resources and the assessment of environmental impact statements for northern development.


CAT-TRAIN: Canadian Arctic Tidal Transect Research and Infrastructure Network

Early European explorers viewed the Arctic as an obstacle to navigation, and even today, southern-based scientists tend to sail through the Arctic on icebreakers or visit camps and research stations only in seasons of greatest interest (or perhaps of greatest comfort). To conduct the type of research that is needed to prepare for northern sustainability, this model needs to align more closely with the Inuit model of adaptability and long-term occupation.

CAT-TRAIN: Canadian Arctic Tidal Transect Research and Infrastructure Network

The M-MAG-N labs are one way to bring about this change. We believe that with these labs, the opportunities for monitoring, focused scientific studies and innovative use of technology in support of community initiatives are nearly endless. ARF is already soliciting proposals to use these labs in innovative ways. However, the first hurdle is to get the labs out on the land. To do this, we are proposing a project called the “CAT-TRAIN,” which leverages expertise in areas in which ARF is already familiar. 

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The CAT-TRAIN project engages a team of local and scientific experts to capitalize on the opportunities provided by the innovative mobile research lab facilities built by ARF in collaboration with CanNor and other partners, by placing them at specific sites in the southern Kitikmeot Region.

In 2018, the CAT-TRAIN project team worked with local industry, guides, scientists and Northern Rangers to relocate two M-MAG-N labs to strategic locations using tracked machines (Challengers) to pull the labs and support trailers together as a train. The team will conduct research along the CAT-TRAIN path, while the units are being moved, to identify sea ice hazards, investigate biological activity in tidal straits and conduct baseline measurements of ocean acidification.

The first lab is located 45 km southwest of Cambridge Bay on an island in the Finlayson Island group in Dease Strait. The second lab was placed in Byron Bay at the mouth of Lachlan River, a critically important river for the local Arctic char fishery. A third lab will be moved in early 2019 to Bay Chimo, a gateway to southern Bathurst Inlet. 

Once in place (April 2018 and beyond), the M-MAG-N labs will be used by a variety of stakeholders in all seasons (for science, search and rescue, and the local community's needs) to begin measurements of sea ice growth and decay processes, monitor air and sea CO2 exchange, conduct atmospheric studies, study Arctic char physiology, improve travel safety in the area and seed the development of an ecotourism industry in the Kitikmeot Region.    


Hunter Trappers Association Boat Refit


The Jenny Pierre refit project originated from listening to the needs expressed by the community of Gjoa Haven. ARF was asked to help fix the community’s existing 40 ft. PEI-style vessel. ARF is co-designing an operational and ownership plan that will utilize this vessel to support community-directed and relevant research of importance to the hunter and trapper organization. This will advance community needs such as research, knowledge generation and local food harvests. 

The refit of the vessel will involve the people of Gjoa Haven and Cambridge Bay. A complete overhaul of the engine and electrical components will be undertaken. Equipment will be installed to support scientific operations. The cabin space will be extended to create a small on-board science lab, galley and accommodation space for six crew members. 

The vessel will be operational in summer 2018 and will support scientific objectives in the Kitikmeot marine region. This vessel will be an ideal training platform for local community members learning at-sea operations. 


“The Inuit know their land better than anyone else, so partnerships are not only the right thing to do — it's the smart thing to do.”

Adrian SchimNowski, CEO, Arctic Research Foundation

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