Northern Biodiversity Research Program

Program Overview

Letter of Intent Submission Deadline: June 21, 2024

The Weston Family Foundation is pleased to launch a new program focused on protecting and restoring biodiversity in Northern Canada.

The Northern Biodiversity Research Program is seeking to fund applied research projects that have a demonstrated opportunity to influence conservation policy or practice in order to improve outcomes for northern ecosystems and biodiversity.

The goal of the Northern Biodiversity Research Program is to:

  • Produce high-quality research findings on northern biodiversity in Canada; and
  • Utilize the generated findings and knowledge at conservation decision-making processes in support of improved northern biodiversity outcomes.

Successful Projects will focus on:

  • Population dynamics, ecology, health, disease, contaminants, or management studies of species of importance for northern ecosystems
  • The response of ecosystems to the impacts of climate change
  • The impact of anthropogenic activities on species or ecosystems

Please refer to the Program Details for more information.

Funding available per project: A minimum of $600,000 and a maximum of $3,000,000 CAD per research project will be given out for projects. Projects can extend up to three years.

Important dates:

Letter of Intent deadline:  June 21, 2024 at 5:00pm ET

Proposal deadline: September 11, 2024 at 5:00pm ET

Award announcement: November 2024

For further information about this exciting new program, including project details, applicant eligibility, and scientific or geographic scope, please review the documents below.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any inquiries related to the program. You are welcome to send questions to David Bysouth, Program Manager for the Northern Science and Research Committee at david.bysouth@westonfoundation.ca

Relevant documents:

Watch the webinar about this grant call:

Community Partnerships in Research Grants

Overview

The Community Partnerships in Research Grants is a pilot that supports northern biodiversity and natural science knowledge creation through building Indigenous community-researcher relationships and facilitating research project co-design.

The opportunity showcases participating Indigenous community research priorities and then provides grants to Principal Investigators (P.I.s), and their graduate students or postdoctoral fellows based at CRA qualified donee institutions, to visit these communities and co-design a research project. The opportunity also provides resources for the participating community to develop their research priorities and host the P.I. and their students.

This pilot will support up to six P.I.s in two participating Indigenous communities at up to $28,000 per P.I.

Basic Structure

  1. Participating Indigenous communities will share their research challenges with the Canadian academic research community through webinars and written summaries. Participating Indigenous communities are the Forest Authority, Cree First Nation of Waswanipi, studying the impact of wildfire on fish, American martens, and moose, and the Chisasibi Eeyou Resource and Research Institute (CERRI) of the Cree Nation of Chisasibi, studying coastal vegetation in Canada geese stop-over sites and James Bay eelgrass.
  2. P.I.s will apply to the Weston Family Foundation for funding to travel to the participating Indigenous community for the purpose of meeting with and beginning to co-design a research project. P.I.s must have graduate student(s) or postdoctoral fellow(s) accompanying them. Fill out the application form.
  3. A selection committee made up of Foundation and participating Indigenous community representatives will review and select successful P.I.s based on research experience and commitment to co-production of research.
  4. P.I.s will receive up to $28,000 for them and their students/fellows to travel to the participating Indigenous community to co-design the research project over the summer/fall of 2024.


To apply for a Community Partnerships in Research Grant, please email your completed application form to Northern@westonfoundation.ca

The deadline to apply for a Community Partnerships in Research Grant is May 15th, 2024 at 5 p.m. ET.

Current Participating Indigenous Community Research Priorities

Forest Authority of Cree First Nation of Waswanipi, Québec

The Forest Authority Department (FAD) is part of the Natural Resources Department of the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi. We have the mandate to promote the Cree way of life and Cree traditional knowledge in land and land use management. We have the mandate to implement capacity building principles in all of our projects including human resources development objectives and best science & technology practices for the benefit of all.

Marten monitoring.

The aim of the project would be to monitor the presence of marten in sites that have good quality habitat for this species. In areas where there were forest fires, and by integrating climate change analyses and data, the research should determine if the marten continues to utilize the habitat or if it will recolonize. Learn more.

Fish monitoring at Théodat Lake.

The aim of this project would be to sample the walleye population at Théodat Lake in order to set the baseline or a reference level for future understanding of how forest fires, and specifically contaminants, impact the fish. Two aspects would be studied – the health status of the walleye, including contaminants, and the walleye’s population in the lake. Learn more.

Willow tree planting for wildlife habitat restoration.

The aim of the project is to restore critical wildlife habitat for moose using willow plantation. This research priority is to validate that willow can provide forage for moose population and restore their habitats quickly following large and severe wildfires. The research project would be mostly focused on the 2023 wildfires areas located close or within protected areas in the Waswanipi territory (Mishigamish—Théodat lake and Waswanipi lake). Learn more.

Webinars for Forest Authority, Cree First Nation of Waswanipi

Join the Weston Family Foundation and the Forest Authority of the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi to learn about their research priorities! This webinar is part of the Weston Family Foundation’s Community Partnerships in Research Grants.

Featuring:

  • Michel Arès, Senior Technologist, Forest Authority, Cree First Nation of Waswanipi
  • Hyldane Boucard, Biologist, Forest Authority, Cree First Nation of Waswanipi
  • Élise Rioux-Paquette, Biologist, Forest Authority, Cree First Nation of Waswanipi
  • Ian Saganash, Land Keeper, Cree First Nation of Waswanipi

Watch the webinar below, in case you missed it!

Chisasibi Eeyou Resource and Research Institute (CERRI) of the Cree Nation of Chisasibi

CERRI (Chisasibi Eeyou Resource and Research Institute) is a community-based research organization under the Cree Nation of Chisasibi. Its goal is to build community capacity through science programs, applied research, and traditional ecological knowledge. The community determines CERRI’s research priorities, which are always linked to the Eeyou way of life. More info: www.cerri.ca

Assessing the distribution and types of coastal vegetation in Canada geese stop-over sites.

A study is needed to determine the relationships between terrestrial plant productivity and goose migration patterns, offering insights that could guide efforts to restore these high-value habitats and critical components of northern biodiversity. The study involves mapping berry fields, heaths, and wetlands and measuring their levels of productivity and quality.

Microbiome of James Bay eelgrass.

Eelgrass, crucial for the marine ecosystem and migratory waterfowl, is facing a decline due to various stressors, possibly including microbial infections. A study is needed on how microbial communities might be contributing to the ongoing decline and lack of recovery of eelgrass (Zostera marina) beds in James Bay.

Learn more about the CERRI research priorities.

Webinars for Chisasibi Eeyou Resource and Research Institute (CERRI)

Join the Weston Family Foundation and the Chisasibi Eeyou Resource and Research Institute (CERRI) to learn about their research priorities! This webinar is part of the Weston Family Foundation’s Community Partnerships in Research Fund.

Featuring:

  • Dr. Dante Torio, Marine Biologist/Spatial Ecologist, Chisasibi Eeyou Resource and Research Institute, Cree Nation of Chisasibi
  • Clara Rogers, Assistant researcher, Chisasibi Eeyou Resource and Research Institute, Cree Nation of Chisasibi

Dates:

April 16th at 2:00-3:00pm (EST) – register here now!         
April 25th at 2:00-3:00pm EST – register here now!

Weston Family Awards in Northern Research 2024 Competition Now closed

Program Overview

Since 2007, the Weston Family Awards in Northern Research have provided unparalleled support to early career scientists in Canada pursuing research in Canada’s North. These annual awards are some of the most prestigious in the country for students pursuing a master’s degree, a doctoral degree or postdoctoral fellowship. Over 350 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows have been selected to receive an award since the program’s inception, forming a community of Weston Family Northern Scientists who are at the forefront of northern scholarship and who are helping shape a better future for Canada and the world.

Weston Family Awards in Northern Research winners undertake projects across a broad spectrum of fields and disciplines in the natural sciences, including studies of northern ecosystems, biodiversity, flora and fauna, meteorology, oceanography, glaciology, geography and environmental studies.

In the 2024 program year, the Weston Family Foundation will aim to support the following awards:

  • Up to 15 awards for master’s level students. Each award is valued at $20,000 over one year.
  • Up to 10 awards for doctoral students. Each award is valued at $40,000 each year for three years.
  • Up to 5 awards for postdoctoral fellows. Each award is valued at $55,000 each year for two years plus up to $10,000 per year for travel and conference expenses.

Important Dates

  • October 26th – 2024 contest opens
  • November 22nd – informational webinar (register here!)
  • January 16th, 2024 – contest closes
  • May, 2024 – Awardees will be contacted

Northern Science and Research

What We Do

Northern Canada is a vast, unique, and sensitive land and seascape – and is facing unprecedented challenges. Climate change is causing severe impacts to northern ecosystems as well as communities, and is occurring at a rate two to four times faster in the North than the rest of the country. Changes in northern Canada due to climate change include loss of species and shifts in ecosystem and species distribution, increased extreme weather events and changing disturbance regimes, and changing snow and ice conditions.

The aim of the Weston Family Foundation’s Northern Science and Research funding is, ultimately, to protect and restore biodiversity through increasing ecological stewardship and sustainability and increasing knowledge and awareness of northern ecosystems.

Since 2007, our Foundation has committed nearly $40 million to northern natural science research through scientists, non-profit organizations, and government agencies to support a better understanding of northern Canada and foster more informed decision-making. Through the Weston Family Awards in Northern Research, more than 350 early career northern researchers have been supported as graduate students or postdoctoral fellows, forming a community of Weston Family Northern Scholars at the forefront of research in northern Canada.

What We Fund

Although our work is continuously evolving, we have the following priorities for our funding:

  1. Land Use Planning & Management – through funding applied conservation and stewardship programs, the Foundation supports the ongoing protection and management of northern habitat and ecosystems.
  2. Research & Training – support for investigative science, through university- and Indigenous-led research projects, increases understanding of ecosystems and natural processes and provides evidence on which Indigenous and governmental decision-makers can make informed natural resource management decisions.

We do not accept unsolicited requests for funding. For future grant opportunities, please check our Grant Calls page or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIN.

Featured Projects and Research

Weston Family Awards in Northern Research and Weston Family Boreal Research Fellowships

Northern Biodiversity Research Program

Pilot: Community Partnerships in Research Grants

Congratulations to the 2023 Winners of the Weston Family Awards in Northern Research

The Weston Family Awards in Northern Research were launched in 2007 to support early career researchers focusing on science in Canada’s North. Since that time, over 300 scientists have been funded at the Master’s, PhD, and Postdoctoral level. Through a competitive process, awards are presented to outstanding students and scientists in northern research from universities across Canada.  

This year, 26 researchers were chosen for a variety of research projects focusing on northern natural sciences. These projects include studies on: 

  • The impacts of climate change and industrial activity on wildlife species important for northern communities, such as wolves, caribou, bowhead whales, and Arctic plants; 
  • Understanding population dynamics and critical habitat for iconic northern wildlife species such as caribou, Arctic char, and Arctic seabirds; 
  • Improving knowledge about species that impact the North such as killer whales, beavers, non-native earthworms, and parasites; 
  • The impacts of climate change on boreal forest, permafrost, peatland, lakes, and the Arctic Ocean; and 
  • Understanding how aspects of ecology, oceanography, limnology, toxicology, glaciology, hydrology, hydrogeology, and atmospheric dynamics impact northern communities. 

The Weston Family Foundation hopes that this research contributes to protecting and restoring biodiversity in Canada’s North. Many of this year’s Northern Scholars are working directly with northern and Indigenous communities on their research projects and incorporating Indigenous Knowledge with the ultimate aim of helping communities make informed conservation management decisions.  

Many of the Northern Scholars also undertake projects through the Foundation’s Extended Stay Program. The Extended Stay Program provides funds to students wishing to spend time in the northern community in which their research takes place to co-develop their research or share the results of their research with the community. Examples of Extended Stay Program projects include community workshops, feasts, or provision of supportive infrastructure to a community related to a research project. 

To learn more about the 2023 Northern Scholars’ projects, click here.

Alison Ronson

Alison (she/her) joined the Weston Family Foundation in 2022 and oversees all programming related to Northern Science and Knowledge. Prior to joining the Foundation, Alison worked as the National Director of Operations and Legal Counsel with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), where she was responsible for instituting operational systems and processes in the CPAWS national office. Alison has an extensive work history in large landscape-scale science and conservation, fundraising, financial planning, and reporting within charitable/non-profit organizations.  

Alison has a degree of Barrister-at-Law, Law Society of Ontario, a Masters in International Affairs from Carleton University, where she focused on the impact of climate change on Arctic environmental institutions, and a Bachelor of Science with Honours from Queens University (Faculty of Biology and Faculty of Environmental Sciences), where she studied the impact of climate change on Arctic soil microbial processes.

Sarah Cook

Sarah Cook joined the Weston Family Foundation in January 2022 as a Grants Coordinator. She is responsible for supporting the operational needs of programs related to the Weston Family Microbiome Initiative and Northern Science and Knowledge.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Sarah worked on the Operations and Finance teams for a number of Canadian and international non-profit organizations including the Stephen Lewis Foundation and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Foundation.

Sarah holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Development Studies and a Postgraduate Certificate in International Development Management.

Applications now being accepted for the 2022 Weston Family Awards in Northern Research

The Weston Family Foundation is pleased to announce the launch of the 2022 Weston Family Awards in Northern Research. Through a competitive process, these awards are presented annually to outstanding students and scientists in northern research from across Canada.

As of Nov. 4, 2021, the Weston Family Awards are open to students pursuing master’s or doctoral degrees, or a postdoctoral fellowship. Past winners have undertaken research projects across a broad spectrum of fields and disciplines in the natural sciences, including studies of northern ecosystems, biodiversity, flora and fauna, meteorology, oceanography, glaciology, geography and environmental studies.

Since the program’s inception in 2007, more than 300 early-career researchers have been selected to receive an award, forming a community of Weston Family Northern Scientists who are at the forefront of northern scholarship and who are helping shape a better future for Canada and the world. In the most recent round of awards, 27 researchers were chosen for a variety of research projects, including bird biodiversity, polar bear ecology, permafrost thaw, beluga health and Inuit knowledge.

The deadline to submit an application for the current awards program is Jan. 27, 2022, at 5:00 p.m. (EST). For more information, please visit www.westonfamilyawards.ca.

Congratulations to the winners of the Weston Family Awards in Northern Research

The Weston Family Awards in Northern Research were launched in 2007 to support early-career researchers focusing on science in the North. Since that time, nearly 300 scientists have been funded at the graduate and postdoctoral level.

Through a competitive process, awards are presented to outstanding students and scientists in northern research from universities across Canada. This year, 27 researchers were chosen for a variety of research projects, including bird biodiversity, polar bear ecology, permafrost thaw, beluga health and Inuit knowledge.

Read more about the work of this year’s award winners here: 2021 Weston Family Awards in Northern Research

Earth Rangers

Since 2011, the Weston Family Foundation has supported Earth Rangers’ mission to foster environmental education and to encourage every child to take action towards the conservation of northern Canada north.

Earth Rangers’ national Wildlife Adoptions Program helps to educate children and empower them to improve the environment and protect animals. Foundation support has enabled more than one million children and their families to learn about iconic northern species such as caribou, polar bear, and beluga whale, bringing a deeper understanding of northern wildlife to new audiences. As a result, Earth Rangers has been successful in engaging families across the country to support biodiversity and conservation in Canada’s North.

For more information, visit the Earth Rangers website: www.earthrangers.com