Research program supporting Yukon’s COVID-19 recovery and economic growth extended 

 Joint news release with Mitacs, Yukon University, the University of Alberta North and ArcticNet.  

Research funding has been extended for another year to support Yukon’s understanding of the social, cultural, economic, environmental and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Mitacs Student Internship Program, which also supports innovation-related research that will benefit the Yukon economy, was launched last year through a partnership between Mitacs, the Government of Yukon, Yukon University, University of Alberta North, and ArcticNet. 

Current research projects include a host of areas important to the North ranging from food and clean water to women’s mental health, with the potential to support other areas with research-based solutions. 

Mitacs, a national not-for-profit organization that develops the next generation of innovators with vital skills through unique research and training programs, addresses the needs of industry and not-for-profit organizations by connecting them with interns equipped to provide data-driven solutions found within top post-secondary institutions. 

This year, the Government of Yukon is providing an additional contribution of $88,000, which will support up to 22 internships in 2021–22. Mitacs will utilize the Government of Yukon funding to leverage federal funds to increase the total value of the internships. 

The projects to date include: 

  • Therapeutic recreation studied to mitigate COVID-19 effects on women’s mental health:  

Due to COVID-19, women have experienced greater unemployment, domestic violence, and caregiving responsibilities. In partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association, University of Alberta researchers study the use of therapeutic recreation in the Yukon to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on women’s mental health. This project is located in the Yukon and is in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association.  

Find more information about COVID-19, women’s mental health and therapeutic recreation in Yukon territory

  • Grow systems in residential buildings address COVID-19 caused food supply disruption:  

With Yukon-based industry partner Cold Acre, researchers from the University of Alberta studied how hydroponics — farming that does not require soil, but rather utilizes a porous medium—could be adapted to residential applications to shore up the North’s food supply. This project assessed the feasibility of farming inside residential units by having the necessary watering and fertilizing systems located within the building’s utility spaces, and the components for growing located within living areas. 

Find more information about the preliminary design of distributed hydroponic grow systems in residential buildings as a means of addressing market interest and food supply chain disruption due to COVID-19. 

  • Purification of mine-impacted water by freezing: 

Researchers at Western University are working with Yukon-owned Core Geoscience Services Inc. to investigate and test an innovative, environment-friendly, energy-efficient freezing technology that is especially usefully in cold regions. The research supports the development of water treatment technology in the Yukon that utilizes cold temperatures; it has the potential to be scaled up and applied at mine sites or industrial sites.  

Find more information about freeze purification of mine-impacted water: laboratory study and mathematical modeling.  

  • Mine revegetation in the Yukon: 

Mining companies are required to reclaim the land affected by their operations and revegetation of impacted sites in sub-arctic regions can be especially challenging. Through a community-engaged approach with Yukon First Nations, the YukonU Research Centre, Newmont Coffee and Minto mine, this UofA research intern is studying snow capture techniques with the aim to improve the growth of locally important plants for mine revegetation.   

Find more information about this revegetation research


“Over the past year, this program has benefited several Yukon organizations while providing post-secondary students with employment opportunities and valuable applied research experience. We are pleased to support further research to help Yukon businesses rebound from COVID-19 and explore new economic opportunities for the territory. I encourage Yukon organizations who didn’t apply last year to apply this year. “ 

– Yukon Premier Sandy Silver 

“Yukon University is proud to partner in a research program that addresses the effects of COVID-19 on northern communities, the environment, and the economy. We actively support and encourage student participation in northern research and we’re grateful that our partnership with UAlberta North, Mitacs and the Government of Yukon is helping to make this happen.” 

– Yukon University Interim President & Vice Chancellor Dr. Maggie Matear 

“During this period of unprecedented challenges, this program has provided incredible opportunities for students, and tangible examples of the energy and innovation generated through partnerships between Yukon organizations and academic institutions. We are thankful to be working with Yukon University, the Government of Yukon, Mitacs and ArcticNet to support this initiative, and look forward to many more exciting projects.”     

– University of Alberta North Director Dr. Fiona Schmiegelow  

 “ArcticNet is thrilled to support the Mitacs internship to help develop the next generation of northern researchers. By building connections between industry and universities, this program creates opportunities for students and early-career researchers. By funding innovative research and training opportunities, it equips us with the knowledge needed to face the challenges and opportunities of the rapidly changing North.” 

– ArcticNet Co-Scientific Director Dr. Jackie Dawson  

“Mitacs is a critical player in Canada’s innovation landscape, serving as a strategic bridge between academia and industry through an extensive network of partnerships. As a national not-for-profit organization, Mitacs helps Yukon businesses solve their challenges by connecting them to top post-secondary talent so they can expand their companies, create jobs, and grow the territorial economy. At the same time, Mitacs internships provide Yukon students with invaluable practical skills, applied research experience, and business contacts that will help them get jobs and advance their careers.” 

– Mitacs CEO & Scientific Director Dr. John Hepburn 

Quick facts 

  • This initiative advances the Government of Yukon’s Science Strategy, particularly the goals of stimulating private and civil sector science and building Yukon’s science capacity. 

  • Mitacs is a not-for-profit organization that fosters growth and innovation in Canada by solving business challenges with research solutions from academic institutions. 

  • Mitacs is funded by the Government of Canada along with the Government of Alberta, the Government of British Columbia, Research Manitoba, the Government of New Brunswick, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Ontario, Innovation PEI, the Government of Quebec, the Government of Saskatchewan, and the Government of Yukon. 

Related information 

Renée Francoeur 
Cabinet Communications 

Alexis Miller 
Communications, Executive Council Office 

ErinRose Handy  
Communications Manager, Mitacs