28 June 2012 – Iqaluit, Nunavut – The Canadian leader of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) met with the premiers of Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and Yukon on Tuesday this week to discuss greater cooperation on matters circumpolar and international.

Inuit leader Duane Smith, President of ICC Canada, urged premiers Eva Aariak, Bob McLeod, and Darrell Pasloski to look to Inuit and ICC as a partner in dealing with challenges at home in Arctic Canada, especially those that have a circumpolar dimension.

“Two essential things are happening in the Arctic”, said Mr. Smith. “The first is that we are witnessing a pivotal moment in the Arctic’s history in that change is everywhere and it is rapid. The second is the world is now coming to us from every corner and wants in”. To respond to these challenges, Mr. Smith said greater cooperation between ICC and the premiers as well as with other actors in the circumpolar world is the answer.

In this context, Mr. Smith pointed to the Arctic Council, where ICC has a permanent participant seat at the table of ministers and senior officials of the 8 Arctic states. He said through enhanced cooperation with ICC, the premiers could have their issues brought to the Arctic Council through the lens of cooperating with ICC. “We have many similar points of view to get across at the international tables, such as the Arctic Council and by collaborating we are all that much stronger in doing so.”

Also, Mr. Smith highlighted two Declarations that Inuit from Greenland, Russia, Alaska and Canada have developed to deal with many of these new and immediate challenges. The first, A Circumpolar Inuit Declaration on Arctic Sovereignty, spells out how Inuit can work with others in promoting their sovereign rights and interests. The second, A Circumpolar Inuit Declaration on Resource Development Principles in Inuit Nunaat,describes under what conditions Inuit are prepared to engage those from the outside.

“Arctic sovereignty and Arctic resources are the two areas where we need to be most prepared”, added Mr. Smith, “and these declarations help us to do that”.

The meeting with the premiers was part of the 10th Annual Northern Premiers’ Forum, and included also the president of Gwich’in Council International.

For more information:
Yvonne Moorhouse
Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) Canada 613 563 2642
ymoorhouse @ inuitcircumpolar.com