About the Canadian Polar Commission

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Established in 1991, the Commission is Canada’s primary polar knowledge agency and has responsibility for: monitoring, promoting, and disseminating knowledge of the polar regions (Arctic and Antarctic); contributing to public awareness of the importance of polar science to Canada; enhancing Canada’s international profile as a circumpolar nation; and advising government on matters related to the polar regions. In carrying out its mandate, the Commission builds and maintains polar knowledge networks, hosts conferences and workshops, publishes information regarding the polar regions, and works closely with other governmental and non-governmental agencies to promote and support Canadian polar knowledge.

The Commission serves as Canada’s primary point of contact with the circumpolar knowledge community, and is Canada’s adhering body to the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) and the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research (SCAR).  In addition, the Commission maintains a liaison with research organizations and institutes throughout the circumpolar world, providing guidance into multilateral scientific projects relevant to Canadian interests.


Canadian Polar Commission Act

Board Members

Members are appointed, by Order-in-Council, to hold office for terms not exceeding three years, and are eligible for re-appointment for a second term of office.


Board Members

Nellie J. Cournoyea (Vice Chairperson)

Nellie Cournoyea was appointed Vice Chairperson of the Canadian Polar Commission's Board of Directors in November 2010 and reappointed in November 2013. A strong advocate for Northern issues and former Premier of the Northwest Territories (1991-1995), Ms. Cournoyea is currently serving as the Chair and Chief Executive Office of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation.

Born in Aklavik, Northwest Territories, Ms. Cournoyea served as a broadcaster for nine years with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Ms. Cournoyea is well known for her promotion of social and economic development in the Northwest Territories and her extensive work on land claims. She worked as a land claim fieldworker for the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and her work negotiating land claim over an eight-year period led to the 1984 Inuvialuit Final Agreement. She is a founding member of the Committee of Original Peoples' Entitlement and has served on the boards of both the Inuvialuit Petroleum Corporation and Inuvialuit Development Corporation. Ms. Cournoyea was the first managing director of the Inuvialuit Development Corporation after being part of the land rights negotiating team. She also held the position of implementation coordinator for the Inuvialuit Final Agreement (IFA) for several years and served on the Board of Directors of Inuvialuit Petroleum Corporation, Inuvialuit Development Corporation, the Enrollment Authority and Arbitration Board.

Ms. Cournoyea received the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for public service in 1994. She is the recipient of five honourary doctorates in law from Lakehead University (1995), Carleton University (1996), University of Toronto (1996), University of Lethbridge (2001) and University of Alberta (2004).

In 2008 the Governor General of Canada awarded Nellie Cournoyea the Northern Medal in recognition for her significant contributions to the evolution and reaffirmation of the Canadian North as part of our national identity.

Ms. Cournoyea has served in a volunteer capacity as Director of the Ingamo Hall Friendship Centre in Inuvik and is a founding member of the Northern Games Society. She also volunteers in Inuvialuit historical and cultural activities.

Robert A. Gannicott

Robert Gannicott was appointed to the Canadian Polar Commission's Board of Directors in November 2010 and reappointed in November 2013. Mr. Gannicott is a leading geologist who has over 35 years of mining industry experience. Robert Gannicott immigrated to Canada in 1967 from England and entered the mining industry in Yellowknife. He began his career focused on mining projects in the Northwest Territories and Scandinavia. Mr. Gannicott became involved with diamond exploration in Canada's North in 1991.

Mr. Gannicott joined Dominion Diamond Corporation, based in Yellowknife NT, as a Director in 1992 and is now serving as the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer. He was appointed President and CEO in September 1999, and then Chairman and CEO in July 2004.

In 2004, Mr. Gannicott chaired the Ontario Securities Commission committee to develop Guidelines for the Reporting of Diamond Exploration Results, which has since been adopted by the Commission and the Canadian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy as best practices. The following year he was awarded The Canadian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy Award in recognition of his pivotal role in the Diavik Project, now recognized as a world-class mining asset. In 2007, Mr. Gannicott was awarded the Canadian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy Members Award to recognize his leadership in promoting diamond exploration and the mining industry in Canada and Greenland in addition to his volunteer contributions to the Institute.

Dr. David Hik

Dr. David Hik was appointed to the Canadian Polar Commission's Board of Directors in November 2010, and reappointed in November 2013. Dr. Hik has conducted research in Northern Canada since 1984. His focus is on tundra ecosystems, particularly the affects of climate change on interactions between plants and animals. He holds a BSc (Hons) from Queen's University, an MSc from the University of Toronto, and a PhD from the University of British Columbia. Dr. Hik is currently a Professor and Canada Research Chair in Northern Ecology at the University of Alberta.

Dr. Hik has worked in a variety of research and leadership capacities. He served as the Executive Director for the Canadian International Polar Year (IPY) Secretariat from 2004-2009. He coordinated the Canadian IPY program and acted as a liaison between Canada and the International Program Office in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Dr. Hik was elected President of the International Arctic Science Committee in 2010.

Dr. Hik has also served on many panels and committees, including the editorial board of the journal Arctic, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Northern Research Chairs Program, the Council of the Association of Canadian Universities for Northern Studies, the University of the Arctic Graduate Program, and the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning in the NWT. He is also a member of the Board of the Arctic Institute of North America and co-chairs the Arctic Council's initiative on Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks.

In 1994, Dr. Hik held an NSERC postdoctoral fellowship with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Canberra, Australia. In 2002, Dr. Hik was recognized by Environment Canada for his commitment to advancing the goals of the Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network in Canada. Dr. Hik recently received the Canadian Royal Geographic Society's Gold Medal Award in Geography for his contributions to the Canadian IPY program.

Dr. Rob Huebert

Dr. Robert Huebert was appointed to the Canadian Polar Commission's Board of Directors in November 2010 and reappointed in December 2012. Dr. Huebert is currently an Associate Professor of Political Science and Associate Director of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary. He holds a BA Hons. from the University of Manitoba, an MA from Carleton University, and a PhD from Dalhousie University.

Dr. Huebert's current research includes Canadian Arctic security and sovereignty, environmental security, and Canadian defence policy. He has also researched ocean politics, strategic studies, international relations and circumpolar relations. Dr. Huebert was awarded a 2008-2009 Senior Research Fellowship at the Canadian International Council. He had a Resident Fellowship in 2008 at the United States Institute at the University of Calgary. He is a fellow of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute. He was the 1999-2000 recipient of the Faculty of Social Sciences Distinguished Teacher Award at the University of Calgary.

His articles have been published in The International Journal; Canadian Foreign Policy; Marine Policy; and Issues in the North. He was also a co-author of the Report To Secure a Nation: Canadian Defence and Security into the 21st Century and co-editor of Commercial Satellite Imagery and United Nations Peacekeeping and Breaking Ice: Canadian Integrated Ocean Management in the Canadian North. He also comments on Canadian security and Arctic issues in both the Canadian and international media.

Maxim Jean-Louis

Maxim Jean-Louis was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Canadian Polar Commission effective November 2010 and reappointed in December 2012.

Maxim Jean-Louis is an executive specializing in technology and education, distance education and alternative delivery with a special focus on small, remote and northern communities.

He has extensive experience working with diverse community groups and secondary and post-secondary institutions, including geographically disadvantaged students, Francophones, Aboriginals, visible minority groups, education networks and consortia, universities and colleges, governments, the corporate sector and funding agencies.

A sociology and education graduate, Maxim Jean-Louis worked in administration for 14 years in student services, regional services, marketing and communications at Athabasca University, Canada's leader in online and distance education.

For the past 14 years, Maxim Jean-Louis has been the President - Chief Executive Officer of Contact North, the world's largest distance education and training network, headquartered in Sudbury and Thunder Bay, with 112 access centres in small, remote and rural areas and Aboriginal communities across Ontario.

Maxim Jean-Louis has undertaken international consultancies for leading British and Canadian development organizations in different jurisdictions such as Guyana, the Caribbean, South Africa, Botswana, and Dubai.

He is very active at the community level. He is the current Chair of the Board of Directors of the Ontario Research and Innovation Optical Network (ORION), Ontario's ultra high-speed fibre optic network, a member of the board of Computers for Schools (Ontario), a member of the Citizenship and Immigration Canada-Francophone Minority Communities Steering Committee, the Joint Commission of the Consortium national de formation en santé et de Société en français, and the Association of Montfort Hospital. He is a past Chair of the Board of Directors of World University Service of Canada.

Dr. John Nightingale

Dr. John Nightingale was appointed to the Canadian Polar Commission's Board of Directors in November 2010 and reappointed in December 2012. A professional biologist (marine biology), Dr. Nightingale is the President and CEO of the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, where he has worked for the past 17 years. He has a BA in Biology from Eastern Oregon State College, an M.S. in Fisheries Biology from the University of Washington and a PhD in Physiology from the University of Washington.

Dr. Nightingale's current areas of focus include, new forms of public communications and engagement, Canada's Arctic, and sustainable aquaculture. For the past 25 years he has taken a leadership role promoting awareness of biology and conservation through innovative public education programs. This passion for engaging the public has led to the implementation of new communications technologies and other programs at the Vancouver Aquarium in order to expand their outreach.

Dr. Nightingale serves as a director on several boards including the World Ocean Network, of which he is a founding Board Director; the Vancouver Board of Trade, where he is Chair of its Sustainability Committee; and the Canadian Zoo and Aquarium Association, where he served as President from 2007-2009. Dr. Nightingale was a member of the Minister's Advisory Council on Oceans at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (1999-2005). From 1993-1996 he was a member of the BC Marine Protected Area Steering Committee and worked to achieve their goal of establishing Canada's first marine protected area.


Dr. David J. Scott (Executive Director)


Dr. David J. Scott joined the Canadian Polar Commission in March 2012, as Executive Director.

Dr. Scott has had a long career with the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC), most recently serving as Director, Northern Canada Division. Prior to that, he was acting Director General, Planning and Operations Branch, and led the GSC's Gas Hydrates and Northern Resources Development programs. From 1999-2003, he was based in Iqaluit, Nunavut, as the founding Chief Geologist of the Canada-Nunavut Geoscience Office.

Dr. Scott holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Geology (McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada) and a PhD in Geological Sciences (Queen's University, Kingston, Canada) where his thesis research investigated the tectonic origin of two-billion year old oceanic crust in Arctic Quebec. He was a Research Associate in uranium-lead geochronology at the GEOTOP laboratories of the University of Quebec at Montreal. He has published and presented over 80 technical papers.

John Bennett (Manager, Communication & Information)


John Bennett holds a B.A. in Geography (Hons) from the University of Western Ontario and an M.A. in Canadian Studies from Carleton University, where he specialized in northern studies.

He spent nine years working for the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada (now Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami), five as editor of Inuktitut Magazine (1989-1993).

He worked as an independent researcher, writer, and editor specializing in the North from 1994 until 2001, when he was invited to join the staff of the Canadian Polar Commission.

Susan File (Research Analyst)


Susan holds a Master of Public Administration from Queen's University and an Honours Bachelor of Commerce in Human Resource Management from the University of Ottawa. She has worked in various federal government departments and not-for-profit organizations. Most recently, she was a Policy Analyst with the Arctic Science Policy Integration Directorate at Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.

Julie Fortin (Financial Officer)


Julie Fortin holds degrees in Biotechnology and Accounting. She joined the Canadian Polar Commission in June 2012 as a Financial Officer. Julie has recently worked for the Arctic Science and Policy Integration Directorate at Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada as an Administrative Officer. She also worked for various Federal and Provincial Departments in administration and Finance. Previously, she worked as a research assistant at McGill University and Genome Quebec Innovation Centre in Montreal.

Marc Meloche (Senior Policy Analyst)


Marc Meloche holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences, Concentration in Political Science and Public Policy Management from the University of Ottawa.

Marc has over 30 years experience in the federal public service. He has worked in such departments and agencies as Natural Resources Canada (formally Energy, Mine and Resources), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Federal Climate Change Secretariat and Public Works and Government Services Canada. Through an Interchange Canada Agreement, he was also Director of Strategic Planning and International Affairs at the CCAF-FCVI Inc. (formerly known as Canadian Comprehensive Auditing Foundation). Most recently, he was the Senior Policy Advisor to the Assistant Deputy Minister of Northern Affairs at Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (formerly known as Indian and Northern Affairs Canada) and Senior Policy Analyst at the Department's Arctic Science Policy Integration Directorate.

David Miller (Northern Coordinator)


David Miller opened the Commission's office in Yellowknife in November 2012. He is responsible for the Commission's northern outreach and for coordinating its northern-based activities. He also provides secretariat services to the Canadian Network of Northern Research Operators.

Mr. Miller joined the commission following a distinguished 25-year career at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He holds 26 national and international awards for his radio documentary work throughout Canada's North. They include a lifetime journalism achievement award from the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum, the Heritage Canada Journalism Medal, two Canadian Science Writers' Awards, and two Adrienne Clarkson Diversity Awards for culturally inclusive broadcasting. He is a former Southam Journalism Fellow (Massey College, University of Toronto).

Mr. Miller is a 32 year resident of the Northwest Territories.

Nathalie Robillard-Bergeron


Nathalie Robillard-Bergeron has been Advisor with the Northern Scientific Training Program (NSTP)  since 2000. She provides support for the Program’s application and reporting process. Her background is in Communications and Translation. Prior to joining the NSTP, Nathalie worked as a Library Manager for the Canadian Foreign Service Institute's (CFSI) language school.

Rhonda Turner


Rhonda has been an employee with the Northern Scientific Training Program (NSTP) Secretariat since 1988 and Manager of Program for over a decade. She moved to the Commission from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development on April 1st, 2013, along with the NSTP. The NSTP has provided funding to Canadian university students interested in conducting northern research since 1961. Rhonda is responsible for managing all aspects of the annual cycle of the program. With her background in Marketing, she also works on the delivery of the Northern Science Award.

Research Associates

Ann Balasubramaniam is developing an inventory that captures science and technology research priorities for Canada’s North that can help guide activities under the 2014-2019 Science and Technology Plan for the Canadian High Arctic Research Station. ann.balasubramaniam@polarcom.gc.ca

Alison Beamish is working on an analysis of environmental monitoring in northern Canada. alison.beamish@polarcom.gc.ca

Nathalie Forget is working on an analysis of environmental monitoring in northern Canada. nathalie.forget@polarcom.gc.ca

Caitlin Lapalme is developing an inventory that captures science and technology research priorities for Canada’s North that can help guide activities under the 2014-2019 Science and Technology Plan for the Canadian High Arctic Research Station. caitlin.lapalme@polarcom.gc.ca

Katriina O’Kane is working on an analysis of environmental monitoring in northern Canada.  katriina.okane@polarcom.gc.ca