Ministère de l'Environnement
et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques

Press release

Québec supports Université Laval for the creation of a research chair on permafrost in Nunavik

Québec, February 12, 2021. – To ensure the resilience of infrastructures in northern Québec and the safety of people dealing with the impacts of climate change, the Minister of the Environment and the Fight against Climate Change and Minister Responsible for the Laval Region, Benoit Charette, announced on Friday that up to $900,000 would be allocated over three years to Université Laval’s Faculty of Forestry, Geography and Geomatics. The financial support will make it possible to create and operate a research chair on permafrost and its geomorphology in Nunavik.
Nunavik communities are hard hit by permafrost thawing, which causes extensive damage to buildings and infrastructures, makes travel on the territory more dangerous, limiting hunting, fishing and berry picking.
Université Laval has developed expertise on permafrost in Nunavik that is unique in Canada as well as internationally. Creating this chair therefore ensures the development of knowledge to support and expedite implementing climate change adaptation solutions in collaboration with regional communities and organizations.
In addition to contributing to research, local knowledge will facilitate the appropriation and application of research results by communities. Under the direction of Professor Pascale Roy-Léveillée, the chair will work in collaboration with the Canadian and international scientific community to support and accelerate the implementation of climate change adaptation in permafrost regions. It will likewise help maintain and solidify the position of Québec and Université Laval as global leaders in northern research.
“Nunavik communities must be able to benefit from resilient infrastructure, continue to engage in  traditional harvesting activities, and preserve their quality of life. Indeed, our 2030 Plan for a Green Economy pays particular attention to northern territories, where the impacts of climate change are especially significant. I am therefore happy to be able to count on the permafrost expertise of researchers at Université Laval. That expertise, as well as the relationship of trust that has developed over the years between academic scientists and the communities of Nunavik must be maintained.”
Benoit Charette, Minister of the Environment and the Fight against Climate Change and Minister Responsible for the Laval Region 
“I am pleased that Université Laval’s northern expertise has once again been recognized by the Québec government. This research chair will enable our institution to strengthen the ties that have already been established with northern communities and First Peoples. Research carried out in partnership with these communities and in keeping with their ancestral knowledge will allow northern populations to be more resilient and develop their territory more sustainably.”
Sophie D’Amours, Rector, Université Laval
Quick facts: 
  • The new chair’s research areas are:
    • Characterization and mapping of permafrost conditions in territories used for traditional Indigenous activities, as well as assessing vulnerability to warming;
    • Further characterization of permafrost in northern village territories to support sustainable land use planning, adaptation of construction methods, infrastructure maintenance and development, and population safety;
    • Designing tools to support decision-making and scientific outreach for the purpose of consolidating the knowledge developed and disseminating it to partners, and to strengthening local capacities.
  • The chair is part of the Sentinel North program of Université Laval, which is investing $375,000 in its creation. It directly addresses the program’s mission, which fosters the convergence of expertise, transformative research, the development of new technologies and training a new generation of interdisciplinary researchers to improve our understanding of the northern environment and its impact on humans and their health. Sentinel North is made possible by financial support from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund and the Québec Research Funds.
  • This support falls under the 2030 Plan for a Green Economy, which places particular emphasis on the North since the impacts of climate change are rapid and significant there. The investment also follows up on a measure announced in the 2019-2020 budget plan presented by the Minister of Finance on March 21, 2019. 
Associated links: 
  • To learn more about the 2030 Plan for a Green Economy:
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Geneviève Richard
Press Officer
Office of the Minister of
the Environment and the Fight
against Climate Change and Minister Responsible for the Laval Region
418 952-6352
Jean-François Huppé
Media Relations Advisor
Université Laval
418 656-7785


Media Relations
Ministère de l’Environnement
et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques
418 521-3991


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