The mission of the centre is to 1) Promote, facilitate, and stimulate multidisciplinary scientific research in collaboration with northerners; 2) Disseminate information about ongoing research; 3) Offer a place to gather and share knowledge between the local and scientific communities; 4) Offer accommodation, laboratory space, and greenhouse space to researchers; 5) Offer coordination and logistical support for research in remote areas.
The Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik research station is the CEN's flagship station and plays a central part of the CEN's Qaujisarvik network which comprises nine research stations spanning the eastern Canadian Subarctic and Arctic regions. This station began its operations in the 1970s, with diverse research projects on past and present environments.
In 2010, major upgrades to the station were undertaken thanks to a grant from the AANDC (Arctic Research Infrastructure Fund- ARIF), consisting of the construction of this state-of-art Community Science Centre to serve the needs of the circumpolar science community for research planning, information exchange, national research workshops and coordination of field operations, and the local communities for information exchange, identification of northern research needs, science training of northerners, exchange of traditional knowledge, and outreach activities.
The CEN Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik Community Science Centre was officially opened on June 14, 2012. This new building has a permanent display-outreach-teaching component and a conference room seating 50 people, equipped with state-of-the-art audio-visual and internet support.
The Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik Research Complex is composed of seven buildings, including the new CEN Community Science Centre.
The station can accommodate up to 34 people at any given time. Students are lodged in dormitories and researchers in more private quarters. There is a greenhouse (built in 2011), a kitchen (with a cook from May to August), two garages with storage space, access to land vehicles and boats, as well as other field equipment. The CEN manager lives on-site year-round.
There is local access to a wide array of ecosystems and geosystems, including Hudson Bay, the Great Whale River, lakes, ponds, wetlands, sand dune complexes, forest-tundra, and discontinuous permafrost. Current projects include work on biodiversity and dynamics of northern aquatic ecosystems; impacts of melting permafrost in the context of global warming; wetlands paleoecology; restoration of vegetation in degraded sites, and research on mercury dynamics (air, precipitation, snow).
In 2011, the new Science Community Centre was awarded the CECOBOIS excellence award in the category sustainable development. This award recognizes projects that successfully integrate the concepts of sustainable development and energy efficiency. It was important for CEN to design a building with a footprint that respects both the harsh climate conditions and also the fragile northern environments. The building features plenty of south-facing windows (thereby maximizing passive solar heating) and photovoltaic panels. Its internal envelope is made of black spruce. In addition to being a building material that is lighter than steel or concrete, resulting in a reduction of the energy required for transportation, black spruce forms a thermal barrier ideal in an environment where temperatures often drop below -40 °C.
This building is a great example of how environmentally friendly and smart choices can support the local economy. The layout was inspired by the local communities, both Cree and Inuit, and its design has integrated sustainable construction strategies and technologies that are adapted to the northern climate.
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The Science Community Centre hosts a permanent exhibit designed for outreach. The exhibit features the exceptional scientific, cultural, ecological and historical features of the land in the four local languages: French, English, Cree and Inuktitut. In addition, the large multifunctional conference room was specifically designed to facilitate education and training for all levels of learning and knowledge sharing.
CEN's 50th anniversary panel exhibit entitled "The Centre for Northern Studies: 50 glorious years", is presented at the centre's entrance. The exhibit allows the visitor to experience CEN’s northern expertise through words and pictures, showcasing the vitality of our diverse research team. It provides visitors with an overview of the efforts invested by Quebec researchers over the past 50 years to study past, present and future northern environments.
As part of its mission on education and outreach, CEN had joined efforts with Youth Fusion to fight against absenteeism and dropout rates in Quebec by inviting students to participate in extra-curricular activities in science.
The resident science project coordinator at the CEN station is involved in the development of activities for local high school youth (secondary 4 and 5) based on the research that is taking place at CEN, primarily in the fields of ecology, biology, geography, and meteorology. Activities at the Science Community Centre include science fairs and workshops with visiting scientists. Outdoor activities include science field trips involving canoeing, and camping, orienteering and survival skills, as well as learning about the local ecosystem and sampling techniques. These activities expose local students to opportunities for postsecondary education and careers in scientific disciplines. The resident coordinator also runs a science club for elementary school students to engage youth and foster their scientific curiosity through fun, hands-on activities.
Visiting scientists and grad students are highly encouraged to get involved with these programs. When possible, high school students should be invited to join research teams to collect scientific data and thereby develop practical experience in field work.
> Watch the video "Live Science From the North", featuring the young scientists of Asimauttaq and Badabin Eeyon, two local schools.
> View the photo album Camping Trip, June 2013 on Alex-the-Science-Guy (Alexandre Truchon-Savard)'s Facebook page.
CEN joined efforts with, and added its infrastructures to, the INTERACT network of circumarctic terrestrial research stations whose core goals are to provide a platform of expertise and exchange for the management and administration of northern research stations, to promote the interoperability of environmental monitoring and the implementation of research technologies adapted to the extreme weather conditions of the North and to offer opportunities to conduct research at INTERACT’s member facilities.
CEN grant attributed to Russian researchers
With the support of the first CEN grant attributed to INTERACT (International network of terrestrial research stations (http://www.eu-interact.org) to conduct research at one of our research stations, Russian researchers Trofim Maximov and Ayal Maksimov were able to pursue their project entitled “Changing Permafrost in the High Latitude And Its Global Effects” (PHLAG) at the Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik research station from June 17-27, 2012. During their stay at the station, the researchers documented the photosynthesis of larch trees (Larix laricina) and estimated CO2 soil emissions from natural stands of larch with the aim of comparing these with those from the Yakutian Boreal Larix cajanderi forest ecosystem. They also sought to learn from CEN’s experience in research planning and coordination, in science training of northerners and in traditional knowledge. On their blog, “A Siberian scientific team in Northern Canada! - Part I and II”, the scientists from the IBPC (Institute for Biological Problems of Cryolithozone of Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences), mention the establishment of their laboratory consisting of three scientific stations in taiga and tundra zones of the Yakutia. They also note their ongoing partnerships with scientists from several countries, including Canada since this INTERACT/CEN grant.
This INTERACT project was identified as a “success story” by the European Union for the major role it plays in documenting environmental changes and facilitating their prediction.
Read « A Siberian scientific team in Northern Canada! - Part I and II» by Trofim Maximov
UQAM Nord Summer School (2005-2013)
The Institute of Environmental Sciences (
Institut des sciences de l'environnement) organizes each year an intensive two week training for doctoral and master's students in environmental sciences. The group
begins its journey in the Abitibi region where they meet with various actors of the mining and forestry sectors, and learn about the views and interests of industry, committees, indigenous peoples, NGOs and academia. The students then moves on to Radisson and Chisasibi where both the perspectives of Hydro-Québec and of the community of Chissassibi on the development of hydropower are addressed. The trip ends in the adjacent villages of Whapmagoostui (Cree First Nation) and Kuujjuarapik (Inuit), on the eastern shore of Hudson Bay at the maritime limit of James Bay, near the mouth of the Great Whale River.
Maamuitaau-Illinia / Gather-Learn Field School (2014)
In February 2014, the ArcticNet Student Association (ASA) in partnership with the Arctic Science Partnership (ASP) and the CEN held a field school at the CEN Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik research station in northern Quebec. The event brought together 20 graduate students from across the globe to learn about Arctic marine and freshwater systems, wildlife and vegetation, permafrost and the contemporary issues facing northerners. Experienced instructors covered these subjects through lectures, field activities, and interactions with the local communities.
Northern Environments Transformation in Response to Climate and Human Impacts (2014)
In August 2014, researchers Najat Bhiry, Yves Brousseau and Martin Lavoie from Laval University led a 14 day excursion across the regions of Radisson and Chisasibi (James Bay) and in the area of Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik (Hudson Bay), looking at aspects of sustainable development of the North, impacts of climate change on subarctic flora and fauna, cultural changes in the Cree and Inuit populations, urban expansion in the North and past and present political agreements.
Eeyu Cheschaaydamowin/The Plant Gathering Project
Photo of Ann Sandy (from the movie)
A cross-generational and cross-cultural land camp took place in August 2013 in the Cree community of Whapmagoostui, on eastern Hudson Bay, Québec. A party of 18 people of all ages spent five days together on the land to share their mutual knowledge and to come together around the themes of northern plants, climate change and environmental sciences. The group included four Elders, four Youth, and seven field assistants from Whapmagoostui, two researchers from the Centre d'études nordiques and a filmmaker from Wapikoni mobile.
View the movie « Eeyou Cheschaaydamowin / The Plant Gathering Project», 2013 (15 min).
Marcoux-Fortier, I., Gérin-Lajoie, J., Masty, M., Mukash, M., George, S., Hébert-Houle, E., Bhiry, N., Vincent, W., Barnard, C. and Lévesque, E. 2013. Eeyu Cheschaaydamowin/The Plant Gathering Project/À la cueillette du savoir. Short documentary co-produced by Whapmagoostui First Nation and Centre d’études nordiques. Creation of Wapikoni Mobile. December 2013. 21 minutes.