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Geoscientific research in Canada’s North: GEM-GeoNorth

Funding application status: Open

Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

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.

 Since its inception in 2008, GEM had several outcomes:

  1. It 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. 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
  3. It provided Northern communities and their organisations with GEM knowledge they can use to make informed land-use and resource decisions

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?

Most GEM-GeoNorth funding is allocated through a competitive process, but we may fund unsolicited proposals that align with the program’s objectives, subject to budget availability and timing. We run separate processes for academic and non-academic applicants.

Eligibility and deadlines

The GEM-GeoNorth program is currently seeking proposals for two types of grants:

Geoscience grants

Deadline to apply: 11:59 p.m. EST on October 29, 2021


GEM-GeoNorth is seeking proposals for foundational geoscience projects that do not involve fieldwork, to be completed 12 months after the grant is awarded.

An upcoming call for proposals in 2022 will include proposals with fieldwork costs.

Who can apply?
  • Canadian and international academic institutions

Multidisciplinary grants

Deadline to apply: 11:59 p.m. EST on October 29, 2021


GEM-GeoNorth is seeking proposals for multi-disciplinary projects to be completed by March 31, 2023.

Another call for proposals will take place in 2022.

Who can apply?
  • Canadian and international academic institutions
  • Canadian and international not-for-profit organizations (including industry, research and professional associations)
  • First Nations and Indigenous organizations and groups
  • Provincial, territorial, regional and municipal governments, and their departments and agencies

Contact us for more information.

Amount available

Up to CAD $99,500 per recipient per fiscal year.

Which projects are eligible?

Your project should include at least one of the following:

  • The use of GEM-GeoNorth data and knowledge to support decision making in the North
  • The integration of traditional knowledge into the development of geoscience knowledge and tools
  • The exchange and integration of GEM-GeoNorth data and knowledge by Northerners and their institutions
  • An enhanced northern geoscience capacity
  • Northern outreach and partnership development
  • The development of new geoscientific knowledge that aligns with GEM-GeoNorth’s draft research priorities (see application form for more details)

Eligible expenses

  • Salaries and benefits
  • Professional, scientific and contracting services
  • Travel expenditures, including meals and accommodation, based on National Joint Council rates (academic institutions’ travel expenditures must comply with their own policies)
  • Transportation rentals and leases
  • Field equipment
  • Facility rentals and meeting expenses
  • Communications materials (e.g., translation, printing and binding, promoting workshops and the publication of project reports)
  • Office operating and maintenance expenditures that directly support the project (e.g., materials, supplies and equipment such as computer software and computer support services)
  • Accounting/administrative services (not to exceed 15% of total project costs)
  • Goods and services tax, provincial sales tax and harmonized sales tax, net of any tax rebate to which the recipient is entitled

Selection process

We review eligible applications to determine whether they align with our program objective (i.e., to help the North realize its full economic and social potential by improving regional geological mapping for responsible resources exploration and development of new mineral deposits or energy reservoirs). If they do, we also consider the following:

  • Project duration and deadline
  • Requested budget
  • Risks associated with the project (e.g., proposed work plan and objectives are adequate, applicant can deliver the project)
  • Estimated cash and in-kind contributions from the applicant and other stakeholders
  • Whether alternatives to the proposed project exist
  • The amount of funding available and limits set by the program grants and contributions terms and conditions or proposal solicitation documents

Stacking assistance

NRCan’s contribution is limited to the maximum amount and eligible costs identified in the terms and conditions, and will represent the minimum level required to secure the agreed-upon activities in support of individual project proposals.

The maximum level of total Canadian government assistance is 100% of the total project costs. The federal government’s contribution will be limited to 75% of total project costs; however, when recipients are academic institutions, federal contributions will be limited to 95% of total project costs, and when recipients are Indigenous organizations, groups or communities, federal contributions may be up to 100%. If the total government assistance exceeds the eligible expenditures, NRCan will adjust its level of funding (and seek reimbursement, if necessary) so that the stacking limit is not exceeded.

How to apply

Email us to request an application form, specifying the funding offer you are applying for. Once complete, send the completed form to the same address.

Your application will include standard information (title, contact information, bios, etc.) as well as a detailed project description (activities, anticipated outcomes, work plan, yearly budget, projected cash flow, in-kind contributions).

Request an application form

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