Indigenous Community-Based Climate Monitoring Program: Guide for Applicants 2021 to 2022

Accepting applications

The Indigenous Community-Based Climate Monitoring Program is accepting expressions of interest from First Nations. The deadline to apply is October 23, 2020 at 11:59 pm Pacific Time. Find details on how to apply for the 2020 to 2021 fiscal year.

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The purpose of this call for Expressions of interest (Phase 1) is to invite First Nations to submit their project ideas to the Indigenous Community-Based Climate Monitoring Program (the program) at Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) for initiatives that would begin in spring 2021. CIRNAC will assess the project ideas and invite selected applicants to submit a full proposal (Phase 2). The program’s external First Nations Advisory Committee will then review the proposals and make funding recommendations.

Program overview

The social, cultural, ecological, and economic impacts of climate change are being felt across Canada. Indigenous peoples are among the most vulnerable to climate change due to their close relationship with the natural world, traditional lifestyles, and in some cases, geographic location. For instance, climate change can threaten safe access to the land for harvesting plants and animals, endangering food security and cultural continuity. For these reasons and others, Indigenous peoples are uniquely positioned to provide leadership on climate change monitoring and adaptation efforts.

The Indigenous Community-Based Climate Monitoring Program provides funding across Canada to support the design, implementation, or expansion of long-term, community-based Indigenous-led climate monitoring projects. These projects:

The program also facilitates access to tools and best practices, enhances collaboration and coordination among initiatives, and supports Indigenous participation in program oversight.

What is community-based climate monitoring?

In the context of this program, community-based climate monitoring refers to tracking changes in climate and climate impacts using Indigenous Knowledge Systems and science led by Indigenous peoples for the benefit and use of Indigenous peoples and communities.

Typically, climate and the environmental effects of climate change are monitored by observing and tracking qualitative and quantitative climate indicators over long periods of time. Applicants self-determine the indicators which are most relevant to their needs and local context. This monitoring is typically carried out within community boundaries and on traditional territories.

To see how the environment is changing over time the data collected can be compared to:

The program supports monitoring of both climate and climate impacts:

All projects must demonstrate a strong link to tracking climate change or climate impacts. That said, ecosystems are complex and interconnected and the program may support projects that monitor the environment from a more holistic perspective.

How the program works with Indigenous peoples

In response to guidance from Indigenous partners, the program follows a distinctions-based approach and is working with First Nations, Inuit, and the Métis Nation to develop unique governance and funding approaches that meet their priorities and needs. For example, the program has established or partnered with Indigenous-led committees to support program implementation and make funding recommendations. Contact CIRNAC for more information about the funding approach for Inuit, the Métis Nation, and other groups.

The program consists of a small team of project officers who help applicants and funding recipients every step of the way. For example, project officers guide applicants through the application process and support funding recipients through sharing tools and resources, assisting with reporting requirements, and holding periodic check-ins throughout the project.

Available funding and approach

The program has $2.3 million in funding available for April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022 for First Nations projects and $2.6 million in subsequent years. We anticipate funding approximately 20 First Nations projects per year. Applicants can apply for up to three years of funding.

As a national program, we will aim for an equitable distribution of projects across the country.

The program is launching a 2-phase competitive process consisting of:

In addition, there will be 2 separate streams of funding, one for "Emerging" and one for "Experienced" applicants. Once all of the applications have been received, CIRNAC will determine the appropriate funding envelope for each stream in collaboration with its First Nations Advisory Committee.

Who can apply?

The program is now accepting proposals from First Nations including:

Applicants who have previously received funding from the program are eligible to apply under the "Experienced" stream if they are proposing new activities that have not been previously funded or need more time to establish their monitoring initiatives.

We encourage applicants to develop external partnerships to help build their capacity to monitor climate and environmental change. External partners may include:

The program does not fund consultant or academic-driven projects.


Phase 1 applicants will use a questionnaire in the application to self-determine whether they fit under the "Emerging" or "Experienced" stream with respect to carrying out formal, community-based environmental/climate monitoring initiatives. The purpose of creating 2 streams is to ensure that applicants with a range of experience levels have equal opportunity to access the funding. As such, applications to the 2 streams will be evaluated separately. The program will allocate specific funding amounts to each stream once all of the applications have been received.

Program requirements

The program only funds projects that:

In addition, projects must monitor key climate indicators such as:

We recognize climate change has unique effects to individual regions, communities and groups. The program will also consider proposals to monitor climate indicators that are not listed above.

Activities the program supports

Examples of eligible activities related to climate monitoring projects include:

Expenses the program covers

The program can support the following project expense categories:

Capital expenses, such as the purchase of buildings or vehicles, are not eligible for funding.

The average yearly cost of a project is about $150,000. However, costs can vary significantly depending on the scope and nature of projects. For example, the program has funded projects ranging in cost from about $8,000 (such as, school-based project) to $200,000 (such as, multi-community project) per year.

The program will consider funding arrangements lasting 1 to 3 fiscal years.

Information sharing

Funding recipients own the data and knowledge collected through the program and may self-determine how their data is managed and mobilized. To improve regional collaboration and coordination, the program asks funding recipients to share their project descriptions or "metadata". This is general information about the project such as what, where, when and how the data was collected and by whom. The program also supports sharing of findings with partners who could benefit from the data, where appropriate, to enable a better collective understanding of the changing climate.

CIRNAC encourages funding recipients to share their stories and photos through the Indigenous Climate Hub, an on-line platform where Indigenous peoples working on climate change monitoring and adaptation can connect as well as access resources, news and events, and funding opportunities. Furthermore, CIRNAC may occasionally request stories and photos for use in program communications and outreach materials.

How to apply

Contact CIRNAC to discuss your project idea and to obtain an application package. You can reach us by email at or through the Public Enquiries Contact Centre.

The program plans to hold a series of webinars to walk applicants through the application process and answer frequently asked questions. In addition, applicants are encouraged to reach out to CIRNAC with any questions along the way.


The deadline to submit an expression of interest application is October 23, 2020 at 11:59 pm Pacific Time. Applicants will receive an automatic reply confirming receipt of their application. The program will only consider applications that are complete and on-time.

After you apply

The program team will assess the expressions of interest (Phase 1) and invite approximately 35 applicants to submit full proposals. The program is aiming to notify both successful and unsuccessful Phase 1 applicants in writing by December 2020. The program will then provide successful Phase 1 applicants with a new application package and support them with the development of their full proposal (Phase 2) from December 2020 to February 2021.

The program’s First Nations Advisory Committee will review the full proposals between February and March 2021 and make funding recommendations. The program will notify both successful and unsuccessful Phase 2 applicants in writing. We expect to begin developing funding arrangements with successful Phase 2 applicants in Spring 2021. Upon request, the program will provide feedback to unsuccessful Phase 1 and Phase 2 applicants. Note: timelines may be adjusted as circumstances require.

Key dates

Phase 1 assessment criteria

The program team will assess the expressions of interest against an evaluation matrix which has been developed in collaboration with its First Nations Advisory Committee. These criteria relate to the following themes:

Applications to the "Emerging" and "Experienced" streams will be evaluated separately.

Co-funding and other funding opportunities

The Indigenous Community-Based Climate Monitoring Program collaborates with climate change adaptation programs administered by CIRNAC and Indigenous Services Canada:

If your monitoring project incorporates climate change adaptation measures, you may be eligible to receive support from more than 1 program.

Other federal funding opportunities may include:

CIRNAC will make every effort to refer applicants to additional or alternate funding sources where possible.

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