Ottawa, Ontario – ICC Canada is pleased with the endorsement of the Pikialasorsuaq Leaders Statement, which advances Inuit led management of the important marine area located within Nunavut on the Canadian side, and Kalaalliit Nunaat (Greenland).
Yesterday, for the benefit of Inuit Nunangat and for all Canadians, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Inuit leaders committed to working in partnership together, and with the Governments of Denmark and Kalaalliit Nunaat, to develop a path forward for advancing the sustainable marine management and environmental protection of the Pikialasorsuaq region, and to facilitate mobility for Inuit of the region.
Pikialaorsuaq means “great upwelling”. It’s the Kalaalisut (West Greenlandic) name for the North Water polynya shared by Nunavut and Kalaalliit Nunaat. Polynyas are areas of open water that remain ice-free year-round due to ocean and wind currents. They’re incredibly rich and teeming with marine life. The Pikialaorsuaq is the largest polynya in the Arctic and the most biologically productive region north of the Arctic Circle.
Over the last several years ICC Canada has worked with ICC Greenland in the development, and consultation activities of the Pikialasorsuaq Commission. The Commission was a collaboration between Inuit in Nunavut and Kalaalliit Nunaat. It published its final report in November 2017 titled People of the Ice Bridge: The Future of the Pikialasorsuaq.
Among the recommendations was engaging the respective governments in Canada, Nunavut and Kalaalliit Nunaat.
Wednesday’s endorsement from the Government of Canada and Inuit leadership is an important step forward in the work of Inuit to manage this important marine region, and to develop easier mobility between the two countries. This future agreement can be a model for future marine conservation led by Inuit, in Inuit Nunaat.“The Pikialasorsuaq has deep meaning for Inuit in Nunavut and Kalaalliit Nunaat,” said ICC Canada President Monica Ell-Kanayuk. “Our peoples have depended on it for thousands of years for our food, our cultural traditions, and as a meeting place between our families. I am very pleased with today’s development.”
The work to advance Pikialasorsuaq will draw from efforts from the work being done in Tallurutiup Imanga (Lancaster Sound). Planning will be based on Indigenous and western knowledge, and the principle of integrated oceans management so that decisions will be made for the sustainable use, development and protection of the ocean area and resources of the Pikialasorsuaq.
“This initiative will support strong Inuit communities through the protection of the environment and preserving the biodiversity of this unique region,” said Monica Ell-Kanayuk. “We believe that this initiative provides a unique opportunity for us to come together to strengthen oceans conservation, and build a strong, sustainable Arctic region where Inuit share in its responsible management and future opportunities.”
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.