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Centre for the North

The Centre for the North (CFN) is the Research Centre within the Northern and Aboriginal Policy knowledge area.

To fill a perceived gap in independent applied research on issues affecting Canada’s North, The Conference Board of Canada launched the Centre for the North in 2009. This led to research and discussion papers on critical issues of importance to Northerners, including education, housing, health, governance, and community resilience.

The Centre for the North has grown into an impactful research initiative and a trusted convener, providing a safe space for constructive dialogue on Northern and Aboriginal issues. The Centre maintains a grounded and action oriented approach to research and outreach—one that embraces the North’s diversity, provides tools for better decision-making, and highlights innovative and successful initiatives. Based on the aspirations of Northerners, the Centre strives to develop practical approaches to problems.

Looking Forward

In May 2015, Centre for the North members and other stakeholders discussed key themes and issues that flowed from the Centre’s five-year compendium report Building a Resilient and Prosperous North. The report articulated three key priority areas to be addressed in the years ahead:

  • Aboriginal Youth
  • Infrastructure
  • Governance

The Centre’s work will evolve around these areas as well as emerging issues that members and stakeholders would like to see explored in greater depth.


“The Centre for the North is a positive force for constructive, evidence-based policy-making and societal change in northern Canada. It produces top quality research studies and stimulates open and transparent debate about the most pressing northern issues of our time. Everyone interested in the North follows the Centre for the North’s timely, well-written reports. I had the good fortune to attend the 2016 Centre for the North meeting in Kuujjuaq, Quebec. The session was superb, with the organizers engaging regional and community Indigenous leaders with government officials, representatives of NGOs and industry leaders in an intense and provocative discussion about contemporary northern issues. The North is much better for the rigorous, open and culturally-aware contributions of the Centre for the North.”

—Dr. Ken Coates, Canada Research Chair in Regional Innovation,
Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Saskatchewan

“The Government of the Northwest Territories is pleased to support the Centre for the North. Its broad-based public policy research is a valuable tool in addressing a range of Indigenous and northern issues, while the semi-annual Territorial Outlook Economic Forecast is an important resource for our long-term planning. We appreciate opportunities to share experiences with other northern policy-makers at the Centre’s professionally run conferences, while its webinars provide a variety of perspectives on issues important to northerners. As an organization that offers this range of services with a focus on the North, the Centre makes a significant contribution to our collective knowledge base about Indigenous and northern issues.”

—Shaleen Woodward, Acting Deputy Minister, 
Aboriginal Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations, Government of the Northwest Territories

“The Centre for the North’s completion of a pilot project regarding the Community Readiness Initiative (CRI) process in Cambridge Bay this past year was of great value to the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency’s objective of building community capacity in remote indigenous communities across the three territories. For its part, the Hamlet of Cambridge Bay had the opportunity to work with the Centre for the purposes of undertaking a vital self-assessment exercise, and developing a strategic plan that will help the community move forward on key objectives. Ultimately, the Centre’s work and administration of the CRI process will be instrumental in helping Cambridge Bay mitigate the risks and seize the opportunities associated with major economic development projects slated for the community and surrounding region.”

—Altaf Lakhani, Manager, Community Readiness,
Northern Projects Management Office, Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Photo of the Northern lights

Contact Us

Stefan Fournier
Associate Director, Northern and Aboriginal Policy