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Geoscientific research in Canada’s North: GEM GeoNorth

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. Academic and Northern or Indigenous organisations that conduct geoscience research or want to develop their capacity to use our data may be eligible for our 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

GEM-GeoNorth is a continuation of the $200M Geo-Mapping for Energy and Minerals (GEM) program. It builds on GEM by continuing to access new frontiers — the underexplored areas in Canada’s North.

GEM (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. NRCan scientists led and conducted research in collaboration with Canadian provinces, territories and research institutions in Canada and around the world, as well as Northern and Indigenous institutions and organisations.

The programs had several outcomes:

  1. They resulted in the first digital geological map of northern Canada, a key to data modernisation in this field of study, and an important step in addressing major research gaps in the North
  2. They 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
  3. They provided Northern communities and their organisations with GEM knowledge they can use to make informed land-use and resource decisions

Program objectives

Program objectives
What we aim to do
  • Mobilise 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 maximise 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 organisations to conduct geoscience and develop capacity building opportunities
  • Continue collaborating with territorial and provincial geological surveys as well as governments and Northern associations and organisations
  • Strengthen the leadership of Northerners and Indigenous Peoples in co-developing research priorities and knowledge products

Co-development as part of GEM-GeoNorth

Our program team aims to work closely with provinces and territories, as well as Northern and Indigenous governments and organisations to co-develop program priorities — a first for the GSC. Our objective throughout this process is to include the perspectives and priorities of interested Indigenous landholders, governments and representative organisations 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:

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

Additionally, we are currently in talks with provincial and territorial geological surveys to identify themes and geographic areas of interest for GEM-GeoNorth. These 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, the GEM program has benefited from the support of an Advisory Group of Northerners (AGN), and we 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 organisations, the private sector and territorial governments. It provides key advice on building respectful and sustainable relationships with Indigenous and Northern peoples, communities and organisations, and helps maximise the uptake of GEM knowledge by Northerners.

Community engagement

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

Today, our engagement strategy includes full-time engagement officers who are dedicated to long-term relationship building. We also use a project-related process initiated previously in GEM:

  1. During the project planning stages, and before fieldwork, we inform communities of the proposed fieldwork
  2. We hold in-person discussions with interested parties, including landholder associations
  3. Community members share their concerns, and the resulting discussions often lead to adjustments of the field proposal
  4. These meetings also bring to light the availability of local vendors, so our GEM team has additional opportunities to contribute to local economies
  5. Between field seasons, our GEM team follows up with communities to provide preliminary research results, discuss evolving field plans and explore new opportunities
  6. Once the fieldwork is completed, we share the research results with communities and provide an opportunity for community members to ask questions about the studies
  7. We also provided landholders with accessible and plain-language geological information

Want to apply for funding?

We are currently formalising the funding opportunities under GEM-GeoNorth. If you belong to one of the groups listed below, check back later in the spring of 2021 to learn more about the grants and contributions we’ll offer to support your work:

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

Contact us

nrcan.gem-geonorth-gem-geonord.rncan@canada.ca

NRCan Twitter

Geological Survey of Canada Twitter

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