Ullakkuut! Hi and welcome to our podcast called UNIKKAAT.
In Inuktitut, UNIKKAAT means stories, testimonials, and reports.
The word varies across circumpolar countries – In Canada and Greenland it’s UNIKKAAT.
In Alaskan Inupiaq it’s UNIPKAAT. In Siberian Yupik from Chukotka it’s UNGIPAGHAT.
There are other dialects as well, such as Southwest Alaskan Yupiq where the term is NALLUNAIRUTET.
This podcast, launched in August 2020, brings you stories, testimonials, and reports from the four circumpolar countries where 180,000 Inuit live – in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Chukotka in Russia.
We call this Inuit Nunaat which translates to ‘Inuit homelands’.
In English we call this podcast “Circumpolar Waves” because we’re sending out our stories and reports in waves around the world.
These waves are “circumpolar” because this podcast is made by the Inuit Circumpolar Council – or ICC – which was founded in the mid 1970s.
The vision of our founder – Eben Hopson who is from Utqiagvik, Alaska – was to unify Inuit.
In 1976, Eben gathered Inuit in Canada and Greenland for a planning conference in what was then Barrow Alaska. This led to the first ICC general assembly in 1977.
In 1980 the general assembly was held in Greenland, where the ICC Charter and By-Laws were adopted and we have been going strong ever since.
So what does ICC do?
In a nutshell, we bring the Inuit voice to the international arena.
It was Eben Hopson’s vision that ICC would be a part of the United Nations, and we achieved that in the 1980s, by obtaining our ‘Consultative status’ giving us formal access to participate in UN bodies.
We were instrumental in the creation of the Arctic Council in the mid 1990s – former International Chair, Mary Simon, was key in its foundation.
And, for decades we were part of a group of Indigenous activists involved in the drafting of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted at the UN in 2004.
Our former International Chair, Dalee Sambo Dorough was key in this work.
We’ve spoken out on the ravages of climate change in our homelands for decades. Inuit bring a strong contingent to the annual UN meetings on climate change.
We are at key international bodies such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature to defend wildlife, and our right to hunt.
We are at international meetings to curb the dangerous use of contaminants, which make their way to the Arctic through ocean currents, and the air.
Former ICC International Chair, Sheila Watt-Cloutier, helped negotiate the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, known as POPs.
Every four years we hold a General Assembly in the Arctic. Inuit delegates from the four countries gather for a week to discuss politics, social and economic issues, and share food and culture.
The assembly sets the course for ICC for the following four years.
We hope you enjoy our podcasts, and learn a bit about Arctic issues from our perspective – the perspective of Inuit who have lived in Inuit Nunaat for thousands of years.
You can find all of the episodes on Buzzsprout here:
You can also find them on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google. Enjoy!