Inuvik, 17 October 2007
The president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) Canada,
Duane Smith, is pleased with the many references to the Arctic in last nights Speech from the
Throne, read by Madame Michalle Jean, Canadas Governor-General. But he stressed that he
will withhold judgment until he sees actual plans and concrete action coming from the Canadian
government in the weeks to follow.
We heard commitments to not only work for Canadas sovereignty claim in the Arctic, said
Mr. Smith, but also for greater decision-making power for Inuit, and a focus on their wellbeing.
Arctic sovereignty is a significant priority issue for ICC Canada, as it is the representative body
that speaks out on matters of international concern for Canadian Inuit and is the voice of all Inuit
from Greenland, Alaska, and Russia inside Canada.
Because of our strong historical links to Inuit to the west and to the east, we see ourselves as a
people that transcends boundaries, added Mr. Smith, but we also strongly identify with the
country of Canada and are willing to work in partnership with the government where it supports
our right to protect and develop the Arctic environment in a sustainable manner, and as we see
The president of ICC Canada also stressed the importance of international and circumpolar-wide
efforts to combat climate change, something that was not highlighted in the throne speech the
way Mr. Smith had hoped. Both Arctic sovereignty and climate change are issues that cannot
only be solved in Ottawa, or even in Canadas Arctic alone. He said that ICC is willing to be of
help on both issues, given its pan-Arctic mandate, and its strong links to indigenous peoples in
small island developing states that will be affected by the melting Arctic glaciers.
ICC Canada supports the promised establishment of a leading edge Arctic research facility
announced in the throne speech, and hopes it will address the whole of the vast Canadian Arctic
and its resources. ICC further hopes that climate change adaptation studies will be a central focus
of the facility.
I am happy with the throne speech focus on sovereignty and improving the well being of Inuit,
but I remind the government that sovereignty cannot be divorced from battling climate change in
the Arctic. The Governor-General did mention the need for Canada to work globally on climate
change issues and Mr. Smith intends to hold Canada to this. I am calling upon Canada to make
strong commitments at the December climate change conference hosted by the UN in Bali, said
the ICC leader. Much of the discussion in Bali will focus on what to do after Kyoto ends in 2012.
Canada needs to stop greenhouse gas emissions now, and work with us internationally to do so,
the ICC leader concluded.
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