Team Lead: Gita Ljubicic

SUN Team Leader

Gita Joan Ljubicic (Laidler)

Associate Professor
Canada Research Chair in Community-Engaged Research for Northern Sustainability
School of Earth, Environment and Society
McMaster University 
General Sciences Building, Room 206
1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON L8S 4K1
Phone: (289) 659-2074
Facebook: Gita Ljubicic
Twitter: @straightupnorth

Research Interests

  • Community-engaged research for northern sustainability
  • Human dimensions of environmental change
  • Inuit Nunangat (Inuit homelands)
  • Indigenous knowledge
  • Northern governance and co-management
  • Cross-cultural research ethics and methodologies


I am a Geographer with training in the natural and social sciences, and I work primarily at the intersection of cultural and environmental geography.  My work is driven by a deep commitment to respecting and learning from Indigenous knowledge alongside science in order to address complex socio-ecological issues. I am dedicated to a cooperative, community-driven approach to research that involves developing and fostering working relationships with Indigenous experts and organizations throughout all stages of the research process.  Broadly speaking, I guide SUN team research efforts in three main areas:

  1. learning from Indigenous knowledge about arctic environments;
  2. working with and refining cross-cultural research ethics and methods; and,
  3. contributing to community efforts to mobilize Indigenous knowledge to inform decision-making.

I have primarily worked with Inuit community members and organizations in Nunavut, but through collaborations I have been involved in research with Inuit, Métis, and First Nations communities across the Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Nunavik northern Québec), and Nunatsiavut (northern Labrador).  I am of Euro-Canadian settler heritage, and over years of learning from Indigenous Elders and leaders across Canada I am continually humbled by their openness in sharing their depth of knowledge.  I am also inspired by their insistence on the importance of working together for the common good, and helping people learn across generational and cultural contexts.

In all projects, I emphasize the importance of mutually respectful and beneficial relationships between everyone involved (including Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, academic and community researchers, government and non-governmental representatives, community and Indigenous organizations, among others).  I believe that we must listen to, learn from, and work together in respectful ways to ensure that Indigenous knowledge and values are considered in research and decision-making that affect their homelands.  This is often discussed in the language of reconciliation, but from my first experiences camping on the tundra as a Masters student in 2001 I was drawn towards community-engaged research as an ethical imperative.  Since then I have worked with Inuit communities and academic partners to learn from Inuit knowledge about: sea ice, caribou, plants, and water in relation to implications of climate change, importance in northern lifestyles and livelihoods, and contributions to decision-making from local to national scales.

After 11 years of working in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Carleton University, I moved to the School of Geography and Earth Sciences at McMaster University in 2019. 

I grew up in Ottawa, the only child of two supportive parents who have been hugely influential in the learning journey that has brought me to this point.  My family support has grown to include my husband and our two beautiful boys.  I am so grateful to the many amazing academic and community mentors who have guided me along the way, to collaborators and students who continue to extend networks and research efforts, and to various funders and institutions for their financial and logistical support.

In my free time I enjoy trying to keep up to my boys in sports, family time, hiking, and coaching 12U boys volleyball.

Professional Honours

2020-2025 – Tier 2 Canada Research Chair: Community-Engaged Research for Northern Sustainability
2018 – APECS Canada – ASA Mentor Award
2014-2019 – Ontario Early Researcher Award
2013 – Carleton University Research Achievement Award
2007 – Canadian Association of Geographers (CAG) Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Award
2007 – CAG Robin P. Armstrong Memorial Prize for Excellence in Indigenous Studies

Other Affiliations


  • PhD, Geography, University of Toronto (2007)
  • MSc, Geography, Queen’s University (2002)
  • Hons. Bachelor of Environmental Studies, York University (2000)

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