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Geoscientific research in Canada’s North

Funding application status: Open

See previous grants

Do you conduct geoscientific mapping or use it to support sustainable mineral development, environmental assessments or land-use decisions in the North? If so, the Geological Survey of Canada’s GEM-GeoNorth program (2020 to 2027) creates innovative and relevant geoscientific data, knowledge and maps to support your work in the context of a changing climate. GEM-GeoNorth is a continuation of the $200-million Geo-Mapping for Energy and Minerals (GEM) Program. It builds on the GEM Program by continuing to access new frontiers — the underexplored areas in Canada’s North. Academic, Northern and Indigenous organizations that conduct geoscience research or want to develop their capacity to use our data may be eligible for funding.

Geologists from GEM’s Multiple Metals Cumberland Peninsula Project

Geologists from GEM’s Multiple Metals Cumberland Peninsula Project examine an 1860-million-year-old mountain-building event on eastern Baffin Island, Nunavut (2009).

About GEM-GeoNorth

The GEM Program (2008 to 2020) explored the structure and evolution of geology in the North and helped address an insufficient understanding of the geology of vast tracts in Canada’s Northern territory. Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) scientists led and conducted research in collaboration with Canadian provinces and territories, research institutions in Canada and around the world, as well as Northern and Indigenous institutions and organizations.

 Since its inception in 2008, GEM had several outcomes:

  • It resulted in the first digital geological map of Northern Canada, a key to data modernization in this field of study and an important step in addressing major research gaps in the North
  • It established and provided regional geological contexts that governments and industry can use to establish whether geological formations have a high or low likelihood of resource potential
  • It provided Northern communities and their organizations with GEM knowledge they can use to make informed land-use and resource decisions

GEM-GeoNorth objectives

What we aim to do

  • Mobilize geoscience networks in the provinces and territories, as well as in academia, to advance regional geo-mapping of the North
  • Contribute to climate-resilient Northern infrastructure, environmental stewardship practices and climate change adaptation strategies with new geoscientific research, knowledge and data
  • Increase industry investments in exploration and the sustainable development of minerals
  • Expand access to geoscientific resources and tools to maximize decision making by communities and governments

How we aim to do it

  • Train more highly qualified personnel, including Northern and Indigenous geoscience professionals and students
  • Provide grant funding for Northern educational institutions and organizations to conduct geoscience and develop capacity-building opportunities
  • Continue collaborating with territorial and provincial geological surveys and governments as well as Northern associations and organizations
  • Strengthen the leadership of Northerners and Indigenous Peoples in aligning research priorities and knowledge products

Priority alignment as part of GEM-GeoNorth

The program team aims to work closely with provinces and territories, as well as Northern and Indigenous governments and organizations to align program priorities — a first for the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC). The objective throughout this process is to include the perspectives and priorities of interested Indigenous landholders, governments and representative organizations in the planning of research on their territories.

The scope and intensity of Indigenous groups’ involvement in this dialogue about GEM-GeoNorth priorities will vary, and each relationship will be unique. GEM-GeoNorth commits to:

  • Meet with all interested Northern representative organizations or governments whose territories fall within our mandate area (in a mutually acceptable format and at a mutually acceptable time)
  • Map a relationship framework, engagement plan or reporting mechanism with each group
  • Discuss geoscientific research priorities without any specific outcome or activity in mind to help build a mutual understanding that can guide future research in those territories
  • Work on our relationships as the program progresses through ongoing discussions about shifting priorities and circumstances

Additionally, GEM-GeoNorth talks with provincial and territorial geological surveys to identify themes and geographic areas of interest for the program. Discussions are based on gaps in public geoscience knowledge and the outcomes of previous studies, which are available in GEOSCAN, the NRCan repository for many types of geoscientific publications, maps and data.

Find GEM reports in GEOSCAN

The Advisory Group of Northerners

Since its founding in 2008, GEM has benefited from the support of the Advisory Group of Northerners (AGN) and will continue to work with the AGN in GEM-GeoNorth. The AGN represents the diversity of the Northern context and includes members from Indigenous socio-economic development organizations, the private sector and territorial governments. It provides key advice on building respectful and sustainable relationships with Indigenous and Northern peoples, communities and organizations; and helps maximize the uptake of GEM knowledge by Northerners.

Community engagement

Community engagement is a focal point of GEM-GeoNorth. It has evolved, just as our relationships with Indigenous communities have evolved since the program’s founding. Engagement has been guided by communities and has helped to foster meaningful relationships and trust.

Today, the engagement strategy includes full-time engagement officers who are dedicated to long-term relationship building. The project-related process, initiated previously in the GEM Program and expanded upon during this iteration of GEM-GeoNorth, has many advantages:

  • Inform communities of proposed fieldwork during the project planning stages, that is before fieldwork can begin
  • Hold in-person discussions with interested parties, including landholder associations
  • Obtain feedback from community members at community meetings where they share their concerns, which often leads to adjustments of the field proposal
  • Promote the availability of local vendors to allow the GEM-GeoNorth team and scientists additional opportunities to contribute to local economies
  • Provide preliminary research results, discuss evolving fieldwork plans and explore new opportunities between field seasons, when the engagement team conducts follow-ups with communities
  • Share research results with communities to provide an opportunity for community members to ask questions about the studies at the conclusion of the research
  • Provide accessible and plain-language geological information to landholders


For more information on previous grants, visit the Geoscience, multidisciplinary and Northern academia research grants recipients web page.

Want to apply for funding?

GEM-GeoNorth is currently accepting proposals for multidisciplinary grants to be awarded for fiscal years 2023–2024 (April 1, 2023 to March 31, 2024) and 2024–2025 (April 1, 2024 to March 31, 2025).

To be eligible for funding, projects must be in line with and support the overall program objectives:

  • A strong Northern economy through stable, long-term investment in responsible resource development
  • Northerners, their institutions and the exploration industry use modern geoscientific knowledge to inform decisions on Northern development
  • Land-use decisions and climate adaptation strategies are guided by geoscience and Indigenous knowledge
  • Access to geological knowledge regarding resource potential in Canada’s Arctic and North is enhanced
  • Increased understanding of rapidly changing Arctic and Northern landscapes and coasts; the cumulative effects of climate change, affecting existing and future infrastructure related to mineral resource development; and how to address these changes
  • The availability of Northern geoscience from innovative data-driven tools maximizes decision making
  • Research priorities, knowledge products and capacity building aligned with priorities of Northerners and Indigenous peoples

Project activities could include:

  • Geoscience training for youth and/or community members to enhance participation in mineral economic development opportunities
  • University and technical college student training at the undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate levels
  • Conferences, workshops and seminars related to geoscientific data and knowledge transfer, including outreach and training activities or services that enhance capacity; and education and outreach materials for stakeholders, networks and communities
  • Development and improvement of information management and information technology systems that would inform and provide new knowledge and tools to Northern communities, governments and industry; and serve to support mineral resource development, climate-resiliency and sustainable land use
  • Development, sharing and/or application of tools, practices, procedural standards and knowledge (e.g., software/modelling decision-support tools, technical guides, communication plans, guidance documents, implementation roadmaps, best practices, case studies, summary reports)

You are welcome to apply if you belong to one of the groups listed below:

  • Indigenous organizations, groups and communities
  • Canadian and international not-for-profit organizations (industry, research organizations and professional associations)
  • Provincial, territorial, regional and municipal governments and their departments and agencies
  • Canadian and international academic institutions

To apply for funding, you must complete a proposal form. This form can be obtained by sending an email to GEM-GeoNorth.

Contact us

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