ACUNS’ governing body is a council of representatives from member institutions (post-secondary and research) who meet annually to discuss strategic issues relevant to ACUNS’ goals. An elected Board of Directors meets quarterly to decide on and facilitate the direction of activities of the Association. Day-to-day operations are currently implemented by two staff members for the organization who oversee organizational growth, program management, administration, and communications. Activities include the administration of awards and scholarships, support for the organization of student conferences, and providing resources for northern researchers.

How to be a Director

How to Become your Institution’s Representative




Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox, Carleton University

Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox earned a BA in Political Science and MA in Political Science at the University of Alberta. She received her PhD from Cambridge University in 2005. Stephanie holds appointments as Adjunct Research Professor with the University of Carleton School of Public Policy and Administration and with the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta, and Research Associate at the Stefansson Arctic Institute, Iceland. She is author of the critically acclaimed Finding Dahshaa: Self-Government Social Suffering and Aboriginal Policy in Canada (UBC, 2009). Stephanie has worked with Indigenous governments in the Northwest Territories as a governance advisor and negotiator and is currently the Scientific Director of a CIHR-funded NWT health research support unit. She lives in Yellowknife with her husband and two sons.


Gabrielle Slowey, York University

Gabrielle Slowey (UofT, UNB, UofA) is the Director of the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies and an associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at York University (Toronto, ON) where she teaches courses in Canadian, Aboriginal and Arctic Politics. Her research investigates the intersection between governance, resource extraction, Indigenous development, the environment and the state in multiple regions (Northern Alberta, Northern Quebec, Yukon, NWT, Ontario, the United States, Australia and New Zealand). Her current research concentrates on pressures to develop shale gas reserves and investigates the variation in response by local communities. She is the author of Navigating Neoliberalism: Self-Determination and the Mikisew Cree First Nation (UBC Press, 2008) and numerous book chapters.


Heather Nicol, Trent University

Heather Nicol is the Director of the School for the Study of Canada and a Professor in the School for the Environment at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. Her research is focused on exploring the dynamics that structure the political geography of the circumpolar North, with a specific focus on the North American Arctic and Canada-US relations. She is currently exploring both the history of circumpolar geopolitics, security and borders in relation to globalization and post-global paradigms.  Heather is a member of the Academic Leadership Team at the University of the Arctic (UArctic), and also sits on the International Advisory Board of Polar Research and Policy Initiative (PRPI) and serves as its Canada Lead. She was the 2015-16 Visiting Fulbright Chair to the University of Washington, at the Centre for Canadian Studies and the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies.


Nicolas Brunet, University of Guelph

Professor Nicolas Brunet is the Latornell Professor in Environmental Stewardship at the University of Guelph with a research program in the community-based conservation field coupled with large scale social-ecological mixed method studies at international and national scales. His research focuses upon natural resource governance and sustainable community development, and the tools, such as Indigenous community-based monitoring and community science, used to measure the impacts of resource extraction (mining; oil and gas) in boreal and Arctic ecosystems. His research aims to build community capacity to engage in decision-making in response to various contributors to environmental change.


Karla Jessen Williamson, University of Saskatchewan

Karla Jessen Williamson, is Assistant Professor of Educational Foundations University of Saskatchewan. She is a kalaaleq – an Inuk born and grown in Greenland. Since moving to Canada, Karla undertook Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in her third language (English) through the University of Saskatchewan. Her Master’s work was based in Pangnirtung, Nunavut. Her Doctoral studies at University of Aberdeen in Scotland involved studying gender relations in post-colonial Greenland Inuit community. Since then she has published a book titled Inherit my Heaven (2011), a number of articles and book chapters, and has edited the Journal of Indigenous Studies. Karla was Executive Director of the Arctic Institute of North America at the University of Calgary, as the first female Executive Director since its inception in 1945. She chairs the University of Saskatchewan’s Northern Studies Training program, and initiated Beadwork Group, which looks for ways to further Indigenous education. She is also a published poet both in kalaallisut and in English.


Andrew S. Medeiros, Dalhousie University

Professor Andrew Medeiros, School for Resource and Environmental Studies, College of Sustainability at Dalhousie University, is an expert in freshwater ecology, biogeochemical processes, and Arctic environments. His research focuses on the use of biological, hydrological, and geochemical indicators to examine responses to environmental change in northern ecosystems; past, present, and future. This is applied through the examination of gradients of ecological condition (e.g., climate change, ecological sustainability, anthropogenic disturbance) over large spatial and temporal scales. His research on the evolution of northern ecosystems over the past 10,000 years allows for predictions and modeling of future responses to environmental change.

Student Director

Émilie Desjardins, Université du Québec à Rimouski

Émilie Desjardins completed an undergraduate degree in biology at Université du Québec à Montréal, bringing her to Université du Québec à Rimouski to pursue an accelerated master’s to doctoral program. Her commitment to nature conservation and a love for outdoor activities were the impetus to follow post-graduate studies in wildlife management and conservation. As someone who is very engaged in her community and in nature, she works as a volunteer for several organizations that raise awareness and advocate for biodiversity, such as the Observatoire d’Oiseaux de Rimouski and Havre de la faune. She is also part of several organizing committees including the Point Biologique and a science-popularization student group. Following her first summer field season in the polar desert at the tip of Ellesmere Island in Nunavut, she developed a passion for northern landscapes. The primary motivation of her research is to better understand these ecosystems so as to actively contribute to the conservation of these relatively undisturbed sites. Émilie was elected to the Board of Directors in 2020.

Previous (2017)

President: Monique Bernier, Institut National de la recherche scientifique

Vice-President: Gary Wilson, University of Northern British Columbia

Secretary-Treasurer: Audrey Giles, University of Ottawa

Director: Alexandre Poulain, University of Ottawa

Director: Kevin Turner, Brock University

Director: Ken Caine, University of Alberta

Director: Hugo Asselin, University de Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue

Director: Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox, Carleton University

Director: Karla Jessen Williamson, University of Saskatchewan

Director: Charles Gignac, Institut National de la recherche scientifique

Director: Gabrielle Slowey, York University

Student Director: Élise Devoie, University of Waterloo