Good afternoon. My name is Nancy Karetak-Lindell. I was born and raised on the shores of western Hudson Bay in Arviat in the Kivalliq region of Nunavut. I was the Member of Parliament for Nunavut from 1997 to 2008. I have always tried to give back to my community and territory in different capacities as I consider what I do community development, to make my community a better place to live. These experiences have shaped my perspectives on economic development in the Arctic – what is possible, what is needed and the level of effort to get there.
Thanks, first, to Natan and the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami for the invitation to speak at this important Summit. We are in an important time in the Arctic. There is a new and very real context within which we must have economic development discussions in the Arctic, as well as globally. We are at a crossroads and the decisions we make will shape the future of the Arctic and its peoples. It is through discussions such as this and those we will have at the ICC Economic Summit in Alaska next year – that Inuit can further pursue new innovations, true partnerships, and processes to drive economic development on our terms – economic development that will not only drive prosperity – but support social equity in our communities.
As President of the Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada – one of four Presidents that form the leadership of ICC – I believe that economic development created through the lens of social equity will help ensure a healthy future for our families and our communities.
ICC as an international organization with official status within the United Nations and a Permanent Participant to the Arctic Council, gives voice to the 160,000 Inuit living in Canada, Greenland, Alaska and Chukotka – four different political realities. Inuit may have a relatively small population – in a global sense, but our homelands are vast and our collective voice strong through one language and one culture.
Our challenge is to consider the needs of our communities amongst the changing world, immediate challenges and all the attention the Arctic is receiving. The Arctic truly has the global consciousness spellbound – those who want to use it, ship through it, explore it, mine it, study it and protect it. And, perhaps invest in it. We are here to see how Canadian Inuit will have the best chance to take advantage of the opportunities a changing Arctic presents and the skills to cope with the challenges ahead.
The Arctic is our home and we are its steward. The land, oceans and sea ice are our highways, and we monitor and adapt to their changes. We have to be part of any investment in the Arctic and I believe we must consider a thirty year vision for the Arctic – what do we hope the Arctic and our communities will look like in 2050?
In response to the growing interest and opportunity for economic development in the Arctic, the Arctic Economic Council (AEC) was founded under the Canadian Chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2014, yet is an independent Council with its secretariat located in Tromso, Norway. The AEC facilitates Arctic business – to – business activities and responsible economic development. Its hope is to be the primary forum for interaction between the Arctic Council and the wider circumpolar business community. The AEC has 42-members from eight Arctic states and six permanent participant organizations. The AEC has four working groups that consider issues related to:
- 1) Maritime transportation;
- 2) Telecommunications/Broadband infrastructure;
- 3) Responsible resource development; and,
- 4) Arctic stewardship.
Tara Sweeney, of the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation is the ICC Alaska representative and ICC Canada is initiating a process to nominate a Canadian ICC representative. The future of this Council and its impact will be determined by the equity it brings to Inuit and community economic development.
Further, the Arctic Council is currently assessing how to best address economic dimensions of the organization. It is also assessing how best to work with outside bodies, such as the World Economic Forum Arctic Investment Protocol (AIP). These are opportunities to bring one voice –one vision – for Arctic economic development forward from Inuit.
ICC Canada has given economic development a great deal of thought. As articulated in the 2009“Circumpolar Inuit Declaration on Resource Development”, Inuit support Arctic development –but not at any cost. It must be done right. So, what does right mean and, particularly, what does it mean within the context we face across the Canadian Arctic and the world? And, as our ICC Chair Okalik Eegeesiak said at the Northern Economic Development Ministers meeting last weekin Iqaluit, “equally as important, how do we get there”?
This ITK Economic Summit is an opportunity to “get there”. Building on this summit, anotheropportunity is the ICC Circumpolar Inuit Economic Summit. ICC was mandated by Inuit in 2014 through the Kitigaaryuit Declaration, to plan and hold a circumpolar economic Summit. ICC Alaska is the lead and host for the Summit which is planned for February 2017 near Anchorage. The goal of the ICC Economic Summit is to explore potential collaborations among Inuit businesses and facilitate Inuit businesses sharing experiences amongst themselves.
Delegates from regional and community corporations, state governments in all four Inuit countries and others with Arctic economic interests from a variety of sectors including mining, oil and gas, transportation, tourism, banking, communications and fisheries will attend. Discussions will span the economic spectrum and ask the necessary questions. For example: with respect to investment and risk – as Inuit, what is our risk tolerance? Regarding sustainable development: What does this mean from an Inuit values perspective? On the issue of public/private partnerships – how do we best leverage capital investment in our communities? On the issue of building capacity – what industries do we want to support to build community infrastructure and what training does our labour force require? And, finally, how do we ensure Inuit businesses have the right support and incentives in place so that the benefits of economic development stay in the north and our communities? That ownership is truly Inuit and Northern?
I am hopeful that many of the participants attending this Summit focusing on domestic business opportunities will be interested in building on its outcomes to explore opportunities at a broader circumpolar level. I urge you to consider attending this important Summit in February in Alaska to continue these discussion and move them to the circumpolar and global scale.
ICC Alaska has established an Alaskan steering committee consisting of representatives of four regional corporations and Jimmy Stotts, ICC Alaska President, as committee chair. The committee has initiated planning for the event and created a Circumpolar Steering committee. Clint Davis is the ICC Canada delegate on the Circumpolar Steering Committee and I am thankful he has agreed to take this on. The recommendations and report from this event here will be extremely valuable in moving the discussion of Canadian economic interests forward in the circumpolar world.
Economic development can mean many different things to different Arctic countries, different Arctic regions and even different communities within Inuit regions. But one thing is for certain – economic development done right means equity. It means long-term sustainability for our communities, futures for our youth, the opportunity to break the cycles of poverty that plague our communities. It means that economic development is not simply done for the peoples of the Arctic, it is also by the peoples of the Arctic. We must pursue economic development that considers social equity to be as important, if not more important than shareholder and stock value. We must create economic development opportunities that build cultural sustainability and community wellness rather than compete with these, which has too often been the reality.
We have the opportunity to chart a course to attain self-determination through economic development that understands and addresses the social, cultural and environmental challenges and opportunities in Inuit Nunangat. Economic solutions can address immediate societal challenges such as food insecurity, social development and climate change, among others if they are approached through a new lens. But, to do so, we must re-imagine and re-align economic development values so they have the most positive impact on social determinants of community wellness possible. We must align Arctic economic development goals to those of Inuit rather than simply adopting or adapting the economic development values of western society. A healthy, educated, self-determined and high skilled labour force and tax base from the Arctic, living in the Arctic can only create cost efficiencies for industry and for government – a win-win for all.
It’s a daunting task and we cannot do it alone. We need all hands on deck pulling in the samedirection, whether you are a community member, a scientist, an industrial leader, a conservation group or a government – those who truly believe in meaningful partnerships with Arctic peoples must work together to drive the community value and collective good.
The good news is that we do not have to start from scratch. We have many tangible successes to build upon. We also have history to guide us, to ensure that our cultural values, such as benefits for the collective good, are at the core of how we move forward. And, we have the innovation of community and young leaders to create and recreate value for communities through economic development. We see many successful businesses where Inuit are valued contributors, partners and leaders.
We have examples of innovative, successful fisheries, renewable energy, tourism, shipping and mining among other examples. Building on these Inuit-led success stories of economic development across the Arctic that consider shareholder value and community value equally can address economic, cultural and social development challenges and maximize the value of every dollar invested. Many of these examples are only made possible through multi-lateral partnerships between the private sector, government and communities.
Take renewable energy for example, as we shift to a low carbon economy, Inuit are ready to play a leadership role through innovative business models and social enterprise – models that improve heating security. Models that improve our houses and models that result in skills training, capacity building and employment. As John Kerry explained in his inaugural speech asthe Arctic Council Chairman in April 2015 “Developing renewable energy resources is directly tied to economic development in the Arctic – good paying jobs for local residents, keeping more money in the villages and sending less out on the diesel barge, and creating more sustainable, healthier villages.“ How can we re-circulate a dollar within a community as many times as possible? Inuit are working with partners to address energy needs while mitigating as well as benefiting from the impacts of climate change. Communities in Greenland are harnessing the energy of the glacial melt and 70% of its energy now comes from hydropower. Inupiaq villages recently participated in a regional energy strategy that identifies and prioritizes the regions energy needs and issues and includes developing wind, biomass, and solar energy generation. These are only some examples.
In communities across the Arctic, there is ongoing pilot installation of solar projects – thermal, solar hot water and photovoltaics. While improving our energy security and decreasing our environmental footprint, we must have foresight. We should be creating training programs now for the new wave of the green economy. We should be thinking of integrating creative business models across the Arctic, such as social enterprise, making sure to include those who are most vulnerable within our society – youth who are so-called “unemployable” so they, too, can take part in this economy.
In closing, it is important to remember that our role as leaders is to lift others up – to elevate them. We are defined by what we do during challenging times and how we address these to create opportunity. Let’s not choose status quo. We must be first. We must be bold. We must learn from our past and continually build upon our successes, whether through programs, governance mechanisms or impacts and benefits agreements, to systematically create the conditions for thriving communities. Now is the time to re-imagine the economies of the Arctic and to be innovative. Let us create industries in the Arctic that feed our people, create energy, support our arts and culture, and sustainably take advantage of our mineral wealth.
Together, we can ensure that in 2050, Inuit are seen as global leaders in sustainable and equitable growth in the Arctic that truly benefits those who call it home. I am a mother of four sons and grandmother of twelve. I want to work hard to ensure they have a secure future and their rightful place in society as all other Canadians. We can achieve that together.