Canada's New Government makes $150 million commitment to International Polar Year 2007-2008



    GATINEAU, QC, March 1 /CNW Telbec/ - At a special event at the Canadian
Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Que., the Honourable Jim Prentice,
Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor
for Métis and Non-Status Indians, and the Honourable John Baird, Minister of
the Environment, officially launched International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008
in Canada and confirmed $150 million in federal funding for an ambitious
program by Canada's New Government for International Polar Year.
    With the participation of thousands of scientists from more than 60
nations, International Polar Year 2007-2008 is the largest-ever international
program of scientific research focussed on the Earth's polar regions.
    In outlining Canada's New Government's contribution, Minister Prentice
announced 44 Canadian science and research projects that were selected to
receive International Polar Year funding from the federal government. All of
the selected projects are aligned with one of two priority areas of Canada's
New Government's International Polar Year science program, namely: climate
change impacts and adaptations and the health and well-being of Northern
communities.
    Other program areas will ensure valuable data is managed, and that
support is provided for research licensing bodies and processes that are
targeting all Canadians, particularly youth and Northerners. Through training
and capacity building, a strong next generation of Northern scientists will be
developed.
    "Canada's Arctic has played a vital role in our development as a nation
and in defining our national character," Minister Prentice said.
"International Polar Year represents an outstanding opportunity for Canada to
showcase its leadership in northern science and research, to help protect
Canada's environment, our northern communities, and the sovereignty of our
Arctic."
    "Changes in the Arctic due to climate change are a signal, an early
warning to Canadians," said Environment Minister John Baird. "These projects
will give us a better understanding of the effects of climate change and other
pollution falling on the North and that will lead to further actions we need
to protect our water, land and citizens."
    With nearly 25 per cent of the entire Arctic located within its
boundaries, Canada is set to be a major centre of activity for International
Polar Year 2007-2008.
    "Canada was instrumental in ensuring that for the first time a human
dimension will be included in the international focus of International Polar
Year, which will see Northerners benefit directly from the research taking
place," said Ian Church, Chair of the Canada's National International Polar
Year Committee.
    Northerners will be actively engaged and will have opportunities to
contribute to research activities throughout International Polar Year. All
Canadian research proposals had to meet strict criteria to promote Northern
participation, including skills training to build long-term Northern research
capacity and foster a new generation of Northern scientists.
    International Polar Year 2007-2008 is the first initiative of its kind in
50 years and is only the fourth such undertaking in history. The last similar
endeavour, International Geophysical Year held in 1957-1958, helped pave the
way for the space age with the launch of the world's first satellites, and
ultimately resulted in the ratification of the Antarctic Treaty in 1961.
    "While building upon an impressive legacy of scientific achievement, this
International Polar Year promises to foster greater connections and
understanding among all Canadians and the world," concluded Minister Prentice.

    A backgrounder with more information is available at:
    http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/nr/prs/j-a2007/index_e.html




For further information:

For further information: Deirdra McCracken, Press Secretary, Office of
the Honourable Jim Prentice, (819) 997-0002; Eric Richer, Press Secretary,
Office of the Minister of the Environment, (819) 997-1441; INAC Media
Relations, (819) 953-1160; Environment Canada Media Relations, (819) 934-8008,
1-888-908-8008; www.ipy-api.gc.ca; www.ipycanada.org; www.ipy.org


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