Research Programs and Partnerships

Nunavut Trichinella Detection Pilot Program

In 2017 the NRI and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI) jointly established a new analytical program to test for trichinella in walrus at the NRI labortory in Iqaluit.  Walrus and other mammals are sometimes infected by the trichinella parasite (Trichinella nativa) which can cause a serious illness called Trichinosis in people who consume raw or uncooked meat from infected animals.  The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has developed a standardized, reliable, and accurate method called the Double Separatory Funnel Procedure to detect trichinella larvae in walrus tongue.  This proceudre has been used in Nunavik since the early 1990s as part of a successful trichinella diagnostic program run by local technicians in Kujjuaq.  For many years, Inuit from Nunavut have requested that a similar testing program be established in Nunavut.   In early 2017 the equipment necessary to perform the procudure were purchased and set up in the NRI's analytical laboratory and in June of 2017 a team of 5 analysts from NTI, NRI, and the Department of Health successfully completed proficiency training with experts from the CFIA's centre for foodborne and animal parasitology in the detection procedure.  The first walrus were received for testing in July and Nunavut's trichinella detection program is now fully up and running.  Hunters from any Nunavut community may submit walrus tongue samples for  trichinella testing by contacting their local conservation officers or health centre.  To learn more about how to submit samples for testing, click HERE (English) or HERE (ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦ)

Daniel Taukie (NTI) and Jamal Shirley (NRI) examine digested walrus tongue samples to identify trichinella larvae

Joel Mike (NRI) prepares walrus tongue samples for analysis

Digital photograph of coiled trichinella larvae (middle right above) as seen under a microscope at 40x magnification



Research Support Fund

The Research Support Fund assists the Nunavut Research Institute (NRI) in supporting research activities funded by Canada's three federal granting agencies. Further information on the fund can found at NRI has utilized the Research Support Fund for a variety of improvements to our library, laboratories and administrative areas to better support a broad range of research activities.

Funds received in 2016-17 were used to improve NRI’s research facilities and resources. We also have continued to increase the capacity of our laboratory storage facilities, artefact display and furnishings in our research meeting area.

A new fume hood was purchased and installed to improve air quality in our primary lab. Website upgrades to the website and the renewal of periodicals and fees associated with the NRI research library were made.


Lightning Detection

Nunavut Research Institute hosts a lightning detection unit for The Weather Network. The unit detects lightning over Hudson Bay and Davis Strait up to 70 degrees north latitude. Information received contributes to the calculation of lightning strikes and patterns across Canada. This monitoring program will help expand our knowledge of how lightning patterns in the Arctic are changing over time and how this might be influenced by changing global climate.

weather network


Photovoltaic Array

In 1995, a 3.2 KWp grid-connected photovoltaic system was installed on the façade of Nunavut Arctic College’s Nunatta campus in Iqaluit to demonstrate the effectiveness of photovoltaic technology for power generation in an Arctic climate setting. Since it was installed, the array has functioned without interruption, continuously delivering electricity to the community power grid. Each year, the array produces enough electricity to power the lights in one classroom for about 120 days. In 2014, new data logging equipment was installed and the system is monitored continuously by Natural Resources Canada.



Geomagnetic Observatory

The Geomagnetic Observatory in Iqaluit is owned by the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) but operated by the Nunavut Research Institute. NRI collects data at the observatory weekly. The data provides GSC with the necessary information to calculate the earth’s magnetic declination (position of the North Magnetic Pole), which appears to be drifting gradually over time for reasons not completely clear. This information is potentially valuable for navigation, global positioning, and telecommunications.



Partnership for integrated hydrological and water quality monitoring, research, and training, in the Apex River watershed

Nunavut Community Wastewater Research

NRI partnered with Dalhousie University's Centre for Water Resource Studies in 2012 to upgrade the NRI's existing water quality laboratory in Iqaluit, to support applied research on Nunavut community wastewater system performance. The laboratory is the only facility in Nunavut dedicated to water research, and is now fully equipped to support quality-controlled analysis of biological and chemical parameters in water and wastewater. Major equipment in the lab includes -80C and -10C freezers, spectrophotometers, water chemistry probes, a Level 2 biosafety cabinet, a reverse osmosis water purification system, bench top incubators, autoclaves, centrifuges, digital balances and much more. Wastewater samples from several Nunavut communities are analysed at the lab to better understand general chemical and microbial quality of community wastewater, and to determine how effective natural tundra wetlands are in removing contamination from wastewater before it enters the marine receiving environment. This study will help us understand the dynamics of wastewater in an Arctic climate and determine appropriate effluent guidelines for Nunavut's municipal wastewater. As the population of Nunavut's communities continue to grow, the need to develop effective systems to manage our wastewater is becoming more and more important. To learn more, visit Dalhousie's centre for water resource studies.


Apex River Microbial Monitoring Project

In 2009, NRI initiated a project to monitor indicator bacteria (total coliforms and Escherichia coli) in the Apex (Niaqungut) river, which has been selected as a supplementary potable water source for the community of Iqaluit. This long-term monitoring program has been conducted annually every year since 2009 and will provide baseline information on microbial water quality trends during the annual open water period (approximately from June to October). We hope to determine the timing of seasonal peak loads of bacteria, and understand how factors such as river discharge, water temperature, and organic carbon might influence bacteria levels. Every year we work with students from Arctic College to collect water samples from a fixed monitoring location. To date, we've tested approximately 340 samples over the 6 years using defined substrate technology (IDEXX). This system allows for rapid, reliable, and simple detection and enumeration of total coliforms and E. coli in surface waters and can be employed effectively for community-based monitoring.

NRI student and ETP graduate (2010) Criag Beardsall incubates water samples for E. coli testing at the NRI water lab.

For more information on the water monitoring project, please contact Jamal Shirley, NRI's Manager of Research Design.


Resources and Sustainable Development in the Arctic

Resources and Sustainable Development in the Arctic (ReSDA) is a major research collaboration that brings together a broad range of disciplines and organizations representing universities, colleges, communities, government, the private sector and non-profits in northern Canada and other circumpolar countries. This northern research network has offices in the Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Nunavik. The network's research is all focused on one key question: How can we ensure that a larger share of the benefits of resource development stay in the region with fewer costs to communities?

Beginning April 1, 2011 this network started to develop, conduct and mobilize research aimed at the sustainable development of Arctic natural resources in a manner that will improve the health and well-being of Canada's northern communities while preserving the region's unique environment. The Nunavut Research Institute hosts the ReSDA office in Nunavut and helps to plan Nunavut-based research. For more information visit the ReSDA website.