New Federal Arctic Policy Framework “A Step Forward” on International Front – ICC Canada

Rankin Inlet, Nunavut – A new federal policy strengthens a commitment to Inuit and other Indigenous Peoples at the circumpolar level, says ICC Canada President, Monica Ell-Kanayuk.

“ICC worked with Global Affairs Canada to ensure the International dimension of the government’s Arctic and Northern Policy Framework reflected Inuit values and our right to self-determination as defined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to which Canada is a signatory,” Ell-Kanayuk said.

“This is an important first step and we look forward to the co-development of Phase 2 – development of the governance and investment strategy,” she said. “We applaud Global Affairs Canada for the way in which the international policy component of the Framework was developed. This will be a new Arctic foreign policy and one that shows Canada’s international leadership.”

The international dimension is part of a larger policy package which includes importantly a chapter on Inuit Nunangat, the Inuit homeland in Canada. It was drafted by representatives of all the Inuit regions and lays the groundwork for further discussions on implementing the policy, expected to take place after the federal election. Canada’s claim to sovereignty and leadership in the Arctic is founded in its partnership with Inuit and is clearly stated in the 2009 ICC Circumpolar Inuit Declaration on Sovereignty in the Arctic.

“Canada’s global standing and ability to safeguard its sovereignty in the Arctic is contingent on full implementation of constructive arrangements with Inuit, as well as the strength and well-being of Inuit society. Increasing the prosperity and well-being of Canadian Arctic communities would benefit Canada and the international perception of Canada as a whole”, stated Ell-Kanayuk.

The ICC Canada President pointed to a commitment in the international dimension that Canada would broaden its Arctic engagement by among other actions, implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and by advancing Indigenous rights on the global stage.

“We look forward to working with Global Affairs Canada and other government departments to implement the international commitments,” Ell-Kanayuk added. Some of the commitments were identified in the 2019 federal budget and include “providing increased, coordinated and stable funding to strengthen the capacity” of Inuit and other Arctic Indigenous Peoples to engage in Arctic Council projects.

Other commitments in the international chapter focus on:

  • Championing the enhanced representation of Arctic and northern Indigenous peoples in relevant international fora, key multi-stakeholder events, and treaty negotiations;
  • Taking a more collaborative approach to international Arctic policy through early and sustained engagement Indigenous partners and others;
  • Ensuring that Indigenous communities are resilient and healthy by, among other things eradicating hunger, reducing suicides, closing education gaps and strengthen Indigenous cultural and family connections across international boundaries, to name a few; and
  • Supporting Indigenous peoples’ international action on climate change issues under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and encouraging the meaningful involvement of Indigenous youth.

The chapter also points to the need to increase Arctic research and recognizes the importance of Indigenous knowledge to guide decision-making.



Natasha Latreille
ICC (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.