People of SFU

Biology professor relocates to Nunavut for new role at Polar Knowledge Canada

December 20, 2021
SFU's David Hik in front of the Canadian High Arctic Research Station.

Congratulations and a temporary farewell to Biological Sciences professor David Hik on his appointment as Chief Scientist with Polar Knowledge Canada (POLAR).

POLAR is the Government of Canada agency responsible for advancing Canada’s knowledge of the Arctic, strengthening Canadian leadership in polar science and technology, and promoting the development and distribution of knowledge of other circumpolar regions, including Antarctica.

Hik, who has spent the past 38 years studying the ecology and climate of high latitude and alpine environments, made the move to Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, in September.  “This is a friendly and vibrant community of about 1800 people nestled on the south coast of Victoria Island, some 2,400 km northeast of SFU”, he said.  “I was expecting snow on the ground, because last year people were driving skidoos and ice-fishing on the bay by mid-September.  But this year snow and freezing temperatures only arrived last week”. 

Muskox and wolf sculptures from Red Fish studio in Heritage Park (CCGS Amundsen in the background).

POLAR is headquartered at the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS) in Cambridge Bay.  CHARS is a new facility that supports innovation and research through ecosystem monitoring, DNA barcoding of Arctic species, wildlife health, climate change studies and the testing of new renewable energy technologies. 

Click here to take a virtual tour of the campus.

As Chief Scientist, Hik leads the co-development and delivery of POLAR’s Science and Technology Framework.  The framework, designed in collaboration with Indigenous partners and rights-holders in Inuit Nunangat and across northern Canada, aims to support communities grappling with climate change, food and energy insecurity, the need for sustainable community infrastructure, and a legacy of colonial exploitation and neglect. 

The Canadian High Arctic Research Station.

POLAR supports the implementation of the National Inuit Strategy on Research by recognizing Inuit research priorities and Inuit Qaujisarvingat (Inuit Knowledge).

The agency also provides leadership for government-wide science priorities, providing grants and contributions, and collaborating with domestic and international organizations including federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal agencies, non-governmental groups, private sector organizations, Indigenous organizations and academia.

Hik intends to retain close ties with SFU during his secondment to POLAR, and looks forward to seeing more SFU researchers and students conduct their research in northern Canada in the coming years.