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The Arctic Institute of North America is mandated to study the North American and circumpolar Arctic in the areas of natural science, social science, arts and the humanities. In addition, it acquires, preserves and disseminates information on environmental, physical, and social conditions in the North. It is a multi-disciplinary research institute and educational organization. The institute was created in 1945 by a Canadian Act of Parliament as a non-profit membership organization, and also incorporated in the State of New York.[1]


The idea of the institute began in the early 1940s when a group of Canadians discussed ways that Canada could increase administrative, scientific and technical expertise in the Arctic. By 1944, a binational organization that included Canada and the United States, with room for Greenland, Newfoundland, and Labrador was established. Offices were opened at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Geophysicst Lawrence Gould was selected as acting director, replaced in 1945 by Lincoln Washburn. [2] The initial budget was $10,000.[3]

One of the most important programs of the AINA was to establish a library. In 1955, there were over a 1,000 acquisitions. In 1961, there were over 4,800 volumes and 476 serials. There were 7,500 volumes in 1966. Another notable program was the 1948 launch of the journal Arctic which published three issues annually until 1951, after which it became a quarterly publication.[3]

In 1975, the institute moved to the University of Calgary where it has remained.

Dr. Karla Jessen Williamson became its first woman and first Inuit Executive Director in 2000.[4]


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