The Canadian High Arctic Research Station in Cambridge Bay has been largely shuttered since March to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.
But now, Polar Knowledge Canada, the federal agency that oversees CHARS, has a new president and chief executive officer, a new board chairman and three new board members to lead the facility into 2021.
Dan Vandal, the Canada’s minister of Northern Affairs, announced the appointments on Nov. 10 of the new president and CEO, Jennifer C. Hubbard, chairperson Joe Kunuk and board members Karen Barnes, Kimberly Fairman and Jacqueline Pepper-Journal.
All the appointments are for five years.
Hubbard, who replaces David Scott as president and CEO, will be responsible for its day-to-day management and direction in accordance with the CHARS Act.
Hubbard has 19 years of experience in leadership positions in the public service, most recently as chair of the board of the NATO Support and Procurement Organization, and as director general for labour relations and workplace management at the Correctional Service of Canada, a backgrounder on her appointment said.
Kunuk, a past mayor of Iqaluit, is familiar to many Nunavummiut. He served as the principal secretary to three Nunavut premiers and as deputy minister in several Government of Nunavut departments. He is currently the executive director of the Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada.
Kunuk joins the following new appointees to the board:
- Karen Barnes, who has held high-level roles at Yukon College and currently serves as the President Emerita of Yukon University.
- Kimberly Fairman, who has a background in public health and governance and has held senior positions in both the federal and territorial governments.
- Jacqueline Pepper-Journal, who has experience in the military and in senior positions within the GN.
The research station in Cambridge Bay officially opened in August 2019.
First announced in 2007 by then-prime minister Stephen Harper, the $200-million facility was to provide a home for Arctic sciences. It now costs about $7.1 million a year to operate. That amount is rolled into Polar Knowledge’s budget of about $29 million.
CHARS is fully stocked with laboratories and equipment to carry out a range of studies and can provide accommodation for visiting researchers.
Along with its mandate to support visiting scientists, CHARS has been promoted as a community space, with rooms dedicated to local workshops and gatherings. Its outreach has included summer science camps for youth and projects carried out in collaboration with Nunavut Arctic College.
Last November, Polar Knowledge Canada had 26 staff in Cambridge Bay, 39 in Ottawa and three in other locations. About one-third were Inuit.
But on March 13, as COVID-19 pandemic measures were introduced, Polar Knowledge cancelled all visits to CHARS, including the main research building, the field and maintenance building, and the triplex accommodations.
Polar Knowledge also suspended the use of the CHARS public spaces, postponed all scheduled support services for visiting researchers at CHARS and suspended all work-related travel for Polar Knowledge Canada staff.