Inuvik – 20 August 2010 – The president of the Canadian branch of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), Duane Smith, welcomed today’s policy statement released today by Foreign Affairs MinisterLawrence Cannon. “It is full of promises and there is a lot of work to be done”, said Mr. Smith. “I hopethat the Government of Canada takes their commitments made in this statement seriously by involvingCanadian Inuit in a meaningful and direct manner”.
The ICC Canada president said he was pleased with the focus on the “human dimension of the Arctic”,and the importance of traditional knowledge. He hoped that this would take precedence over its equally strong focus on resource exploitation for the benefit of Canadians. Mr. Smith further praised its focus on the marine environment, Arctic shipping, and oil and gas development. The ICC Canada president was also pleased with its recognition that regional and international cooperation will be key in promoting the implementation of its provisions. The Arctic policy promises to take steps to create the appropriate international conditions for sustainable development, to work closely with Arctic neighbours, and to actively work through a number of international forums and agreements.
“For over 30 years, ICC has been a model”, said Mr. Smith, “when it comes to working cooperatively with Inuit from Russia, Alaska and Greenland and others, in the Arctic, and we can be a valuable partner,if asked.” The ICC Canada president said he hopes Mr. Cannon means what he says, “that Canada willwork cooperatively with others and include Inuit in the process”.
The ICC Canada president said Canada’s recent record on this inclusive approach has been mixed. “Onthe one hand, Canada has supported ICC’s strong involvement in the 8-nation Arctic Council, yet it shut us out when it invited 4 states bordering on the Arctic Ocean to discuss resource development and otherissues of great importance to Inuit”. The Department of Foreign Affairs has also reduced its funding toCanadian Inuit over the years, just as the international dimensions of Canada’s Arctic interests have become increasingly more important.
Given that the 23-page Statement strongly highlights the importance of exercising Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic, Mr. Smith stated that ICC’s Circumpolar Inuit Declaration on Sovereignty in the Arctic,released earlier this year, is “a timely and relevant contribution” to implementing the new policystatement.
“I think Mr. Cannon understands, through this statement, that Inuit need to be at the centre ofimplementing Canada’s Arctic foreign policy if it is to have any chance of success – and by deduction to have resources to do so — and for that I am extremely pleased”, concluded Mr. Smith.
For more information:
Carole Simon, ICC Canada firstname.lastname@example.org Ph: 613. 563. 2642