Our Founder

Louis Fortier

Farewell to a pillar of Arctic science.

On October 4th 2020, ArcticNet lost its founder, Professor Louis Fortier. From the onset of his career and his voyages in the Arctic Ocean, Louis witnessed first-hand the profound changes affecting northern environments. He devoted over 30 years of his life to studying the North, and to advocating for multidisciplinary scientific collaboration to advance our collective knowledge and elevate it to new levels.

His vision brought together scientists, Inuit, people from industry, government and northern stakeholders to develop more comprehensive and holistic views of the changing North. With this dedication and constant drive, he spearheaded the development of some of the largest Arctic research programs in Canada and internationally, furthering our understanding and mobilizing knowledge to levels beyond the scientific realm. His legacy truly bridges the gap between scientists, the general public, and policy makers for the betterment of the Arctic and Canada.

Major initiatives led by Louis include the International North Water Polynia (1997-1999); the international Canadian Arctic Shelf Exchange Study (CASES) (2001-2006); and the conversion of the CCGS Amundsen (2003-present) icebreaker into a state-of-the-art research vessel providing Canadian researchers and their international collaborators unprecedented access to the Arctic Ocean. We at ArcticNet owe Louis an immense debt: he was responsible for the creation of our network, ArcticNet (2003-present) which unites the strengths of scientists, engineers and managers in the natural, health and social sciences with their partners in Inuit organizations, First Nations and Métis, northern communities, federal and provincial agencies and the private sector to study the impacts of climate change in Canada’s North.

His dedication and conviction of the urgency of climate change made him a stellar advocate for environmental sciences and a world-leading ambassador on the role science must play in the development of policy and adaptation strategies. For this vision and dedication to seeing it realized, ArcticNet will be forever grateful to Louis.

Louis will be remembered for his passion, vision, devotion, drive, and inspiring energy that was felt in all those who worked closely with him. We strive to continue his vision of a connected approach.

The Arctic research community has lost one of its great champions. He will be deeply missed.


Professor Louis Fortier was respected and beloved by a wide community. Read some of the tributes to his legacy.


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