Ottawa, Ontario – ICC Canada commends the government of Canada for defending our sovereignty in the Canadian Arctic by filing a 2,100-page submission to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) defining our “Extended” Continental Shelf Boundary.
“Inuit use the sea ice beyond the boundaries drawn on maps as our highways and sources of food security. We appreciate the fact over 10 years have gone into the scientific study and documents submitted yesterday,” said ICC Canada President Monica Ell-Kanayuk. “I’m pleased Canada has done this work, based on science, and through the collaboration of many government departments, lead by Global Affairs Canada, which included briefing Inuit during this process. Defining and asserting Canadian sovereignty takes many forms. Inuit know this as we have been used to assert Canadian sovereignty historically.”
Canada’s claim to sovereignty and leadership in the Arctic is founded in its partnership with Inuit. As stated in the Circumpolar Inuit Declaration on Sovereignty in the Arctic, “The inextricable linkages between issues of sovereignty and sovereign rights in the Arctic and Inuit self-determination and other rights require states to accept the presence and role of Inuit as partners in the conduct of international relations in the Arctic… The foundation, projection and enjoyment of Arctic sovereignty and sovereign rights all require healthy and sustainable communities in the Arctic. “
The UNCLOS submission is important as Canada is claiming the geographic North Pole as part of our continental shelf claim. Canada’s submission asserts that our continental shelf in the Arctic extends beyond the conventional 200 nautical miles of coastal baselines. Our UNCLOS submission asserts that our continental shelf “extends” beyond the baseline as it is a natural prolongation of our land territory. As such Canada is among an estimated 85 countries thought to have an extended continental shelf.
“This is an important step in the process,” said Monica Ell-Kanayuk. “I understand it may take a decade for the Commission to review this submission, and depending on the overlap of Canada’s continental shelf with other states, even more time after that. The next step will be negotiation with Russia, Kingdom of Denmark, and the United States. These are important decisions that will impact the future of our communities and Inuit intend to be part of those negotiations with Canada.”
The Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) is an Indigenous Peoples’ Organization (IPO), founded in 1977 to promote and celebrate the unity of 160,000 Inuit from Alaska (USA), Canada, Greenland, and Chukotka (Russia). ICC works to promote Inuit rights, safeguard the Arctic environment, and protect and promote the Inuit way of life. In regard to climate change, we believe that it is crucial for world leaders and governments to recognize, respect and fully implement the human rights of Inuit and all other Indigenous peoples across the globe.