The Northern Science Award is presented annually to an individual or a group who has made a significant contribution to meritorious knowledge and understanding of the Canadian North and, in the spirit of the last International Polar Year (2007-2008), recognizes the transformation of knowledge into action.

Laureates of the award receive the Centenary Medal and $10,000.

Until 1997, the award was presented to an individual who made distinguished contributions to northern Canada through scientific work. In recognition of the contribution of indigenous knowledge to the scientific understanding of the North, the eligibility requirements for the award were expanded to include indigenous groups who possess and share indigenous knowledge.

Definition of northern science

For the purpose of this award, “northern” is defined as that part of Canada that lies north of the southern limit of discontinuous permafrost and “science” refers to all fields of inquiry, including those based upon indigenous knowledge, that advance our understanding of the natural world and society.

Nomination requirements

Anyone can make a nomination. The term "candidate" includes either an individual or a group. The nominator should provide to the selection committee:

  • A letter of nomination clearly demonstrating the merit of the accomplishment of the candidate (in 500 words or less);
  • Supporting documentation includes:
    • the candidate’s curriculum vitae (10 pages)
    • evidence of the candidate's scientific achievements in northern science (research activities, publications, other awards and distinctions, professional and public services, sharing of indigenous knowledge)
    • evidence of the application of the new knowledge and its impacts
  • Three letters of support highlighting the candidate's achievement(s).

Nominations must be submitted electronically (in .pdf format) to:


The deadline for nominations is January 31.

Selection committee

A five-member selection committee appointed by the Chairperson of Polar Knowledge Canada reviews all nominations and recommends the recipient for the award. Committee members are chosen from outside the federal public service for their broad understanding of northern science.

Selection process

As part of the selection process, the selection committee will assess each candidate on the following combination of achievements:

  • wide recognition of the quality and significance of the knowledge created;
  • significant contribution to advancement of northern knowledge;
  • relevance to northern societies or communities, with an emphasis on transforming knowledge into action; and
  • training or participation of Northerners in the work.

List of Northern Science Award recipients

(Year of Award and Field of Distinction)

Polar Knowledge Canada Scholarship

Presented in partnership with the Canadian Northern Studies Trust, the scholarship program of the Association of Canadian Universities for Northern Studies, the Polar Knowledge Canada Scholarship is a prize of $10,000 awarded to an outstanding doctoral student in polar studies.

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POLAR Northern Resident Award

Eight awards of $5,000 each, presented to outstanding northern Canadian students enrolled in a post-secondary undergraduate program at a Canadian college or university.

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POLAR Northern Resident Scholarship

Four scholarships, valued at $10,000 each, for outstanding northern Canadian students enrolled in a post-secondary graduate program (PhD or Master’s) at a Canadian college or university, or enrolled in a Northern College.

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Special Awards

The George Hobson Memorial Award, Malcolm Ramsay Memorial Award, Robert McGhee Award, and Éric Dewailly Memorial Award are each valued at $1,000. Candidates, who are nominated by their universities, must also have submitted an application for a Northern Scientific Training Program grant and must adhere to its guidelines.

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