Minister Holder Announces Investment in Research to Create Technologies to Support Sustainable Development and Health in Canadian North

The Université Laval initiative is a recipient of the federal government’s $1.5 billion Canada First Research Excellence Fund

July 31, 2015—Quebec City, Quebec—Tri-Agency Institutional Programs

Canadians could soon see new technologies to monitor and manage the transformation of our northern lands and health of our people thanks to a legacy investment by the Government of Canada into a new, world-leading northern research program at the Université Laval. This investment will benefit Northern Canadians while creating high-value jobs and help to protect natural resources in Canada.

The Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology) made the announcement as part of the government’s Canada First Research Excellence Fund, which supports world-leading research at Canada’s universities and colleges.

The $98-million federal investment for the Sentinel North initiative draws on the strengths of Canada’s top Arctic research, sustainable development institutions, businesses and organizations, including partners such as Ericsson Canada Inc., TeraXion, Québec Photonic Network and the Nunavut Research Institute. This investment will have lasting and tangible benefits in areas including health, resource management and socioeconomic development.

Sentinel North will strengthen Canada’s position as a global leader in the field of Arctic research. Already a recognized global force in areas such as Arctic sciences, optics-photonics and brain health, the Université Laval will further cement its leadership role as this initiative aims to develop new technologies, while looking to improve the quality of life of Canadians living in our Northern communities.

Today’s announcement follows an open and competitive selection process among Canadian post-secondary institutions. The competition was judged by a panel of Canadian and international scientific experts.

Quick facts

  • Launched in December 2014 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Canada First Research Excellence Fund will invest $1.5 billion over seven years to propel Canadian colleges and universities to excel globally in research areas that create long-term economic advantages for Canadians.
  • Today’s award is part of the Fund’s first $350 million competition.
  • The Fund is administered by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) on behalf of the three granting agencies: the SSHRC, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
  • As set out in Economic Action Plan 2015 and the renewed science, technology and innovation strategy, the Government is committed to supporting world-class research talent and infrastructure that is essential to advanced discoveries in both the public and private sectors.


“Our government is investing in research and innovation to create jobs, strengthen the economy and improve the quality of life of Canadians. This investment in Sentinel North will harness Canada’s strengths in Arctic research to develop new technologies to help sustain a healthy northern region, while creating new opportunities for Canadians living in the North.”

—Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology)

“The Canada First Research Excellence Fund has provided Canadian post-secondary institutions with an unparalleled opportunity to take their leading-edge research and make it the best in the world. This will set them on course to make groundbreaking discoveries that will enhance prosperity and change the lives of Canadians and millions around the world forever.”

—Ted Hewitt, President, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada; and Chair, Canada First Research Excellence Fund Steering Committee

“In choosing our Sentinel North project, the Canada First Research Excellence Fund has cemented the Université Laval’s status as a leader in research. This recognition is invaluable and crowns years of work developing our research chairs, our intersectoral approach and our international collaborations.”

—Denis Brière, rector at the Université Laval

“This cutting-edge research will strengthen our capacity to create a sustainable development approach for the North, taking into account the various factors affecting the Arctic and sub-Arctic ecosystems. By integrating several innovative observation technologies in optics/photonics, Sentinel North will monitor both accurately and thoroughly the accelerated transformation of the northern environment.”

—Marcel Babin, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Remote Sensing of Canada's New Arctic Frontier (Université Laval) and director of the International Joint Unit Takuvik (Université Laval-CNRS)

“The Sentinel North strategy will have a profoundly human character by focusing its research activities on the impact that climate change has on the wellbeing of populations. Working with local stakeholders, we will be able to advance our understanding of this crucial issue for the health of northern residents.”

—Yves De Koninck, Director of Research at the Centre intégré universitaire en santé et services sociaux de la Capitale-Nationale

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Scott French
Director of Communications and Parliamentary Affairs
Office of the Honourable Ed Holder
Minister of State (Science and Technology)
Cell: 343-291-2867

Michael Adams
Communications Advisor
Canada First Research Excellence Fund
Tel.: 613-944-1758
Cell: 613-219-7523

Jacques Villemure
Communications Director
Université Laval
Tel.: 418-656-7504