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The Martin Bergmann Medal for Excellence in Arctic Leadership or Science

2012 Recipient - Martin “Marty” Bergmann

“Canada’s North is where the action is.” Marty Bergmann, 2011 (Photo: Danielle Labonté)

Dr. Eddy Carmack, oceanographer/leader of the “Canada’s Three Oceans” Project, Dr. Steve MacLean, former astronaut and President, Canadian Space Agency, and Martin Bergmann, Director of the Canadian Polar Continental Shelf Project, aboard the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent, in the Northwest Passage, 2010. (Click to enlarge)
About Martin “Marty” Bergmann

Marty Bergmann was a great Canadian “networker”, and the network he built, based on passion for the Arctic, was his greatest career accomplishment.  The “Marty network” is composed of scientists, engineers, students, explorers, business, government and native leaders, journalists, ship captains and astronauts and indeed, anyone with whom he could share his passion for the Canadian Arctic. He connected hundreds of people with resources and with each other and in so doing, became a central lynch-pin of Canada’s pursuit of northern goals during two decades.

As Director of the Polar Continental Shelf Program of Natural Resources Canada (PCSP), Marty Bergmann was a public servant, dedicated to helping Canada’s Arctic realize its true potential by facilitating the visits of hundreds of science and geology professionals to the North. Prior to his work at PCSP, Marty served Fisheries and Oceans Canada, working as Director of the National Centre of Expertise for Arctic Aquatic Research Excellence, (NCAARE) where he managed logistics for Arctic ocean science aboard the Canadian Coast Guard fleet, most notably, Canada’s flagship icebreaker, the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent. However, Marty’s contribution to Arctic science is inestimable, far exceeding any public service role he undertook.

At Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Marty was also well known for attracting Peter Mansbridge, host of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s “The National” to join the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent for a trip through the Northwest Passage. During the week-long series, The National engaged Canadians in the science challenges facing the Canadian Arctic and set the stage for Canada’s International Polar Year science effort.  With this initiative, Marty ‘put the Arctic on the map’ for a generation of Canadians who had never been exposed to it before. Working for Natural Resources Canada, Marty welcomed thousands of visiting scientists, students and media to Canada’s Arctic during the multi-year span of the 4th International Polar Year.  

Marty was taken from the family, the work and the country he loved too soon and tragically, at age 55, on August 20, 2011, in a plane crash at Resolute Bay, Nunavut. He had been scheduled to escort Prime Minister Stephen Harper on a tour of ‘his’ facility and was excited about the chance to share his Arctic passion with the the Prime Minister.

Regardless of which federal department Marty officially belonged to, he truly was a public servant without borders.  He contributed unrelentingly to the government-wide agenda whether at home or abroad. As Canadian astronaut Dr. Steve MacLean, President of the Canadian Space Agency, said in his remarks about him at the inaugural presentation of the medal, “Marty was in the public service, but he was an innovator and a trail blazer, and never ‘just a bureaucrat’.”

Here are just a few of his accomplishments:

  • The creation of the first fully equipped, operational science lab in Canada’s Arctic;
  • The establishment of 1,635 aviation fuel caches throughout Canada’s Arctic to ensure the safety of aviators and visiting scientists, geological survey crews and defence personnel and in support Canadian sovereignty throughout his Arctic territories;
  • The doubling of the size of the Polar Continental Shelf Program’s facility in Resolute Bay, Nunavut to accommodate up to 75 working scientists;
  • The creation of a Memorandum of Understanding with the British Antarctic Survey for the use of their fleet of aircraft by PCSP during the Arctic summer/Antarctic winter.  The fleet consists of four De Havilland Canada Twin Otters and one De Havilland Canada Dash-7.
  • Engaging Young Presidents of Canada to visit the PCSP facility at Resolute Bay.  Marty brought some of Canada’s most energetic high technology CEOs to Nunavut to enage them in the Northern challenge. The Arctic Research Foundation, and its Arctic research ship were established through these efforts.
  • As a leading and relentless evangelist in national and international scientific circles for the establishment of a world-class Canadian High Arctic Research Station.
  • “Canada’s Gateway to the Arctic”, a video featuring Marty Bergmann, provides more information about the the Polar Continental Shelf Program and its goals.


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