The Canadian far north is an important part of our nation, and it is changing rapidly. From climate change to the growth of Aboriginal institutions, these are the forces shaping the future of the region. The Northern strategy is about how we will respond to these changes.
Canada’s Arctic and Norstrat Northern Strategy puts people of the North at the centre of our future. We are working with Indigenous, northern and territorial partners to build a secure, sustainable Arctic region that will allow Canadians to flourish. As well, we are creating a framework to help us tackle the massive implications of climate change.
Canada’s new Arctic and Northern Policy Framework is a major shift in direction for the Government of Canada. It better aligns our national objectives with the priorities of Indigenous peoples. The new approach will advance reconciliation, renew Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples, and put the future in the hands of the people who live in the Arctic and the North.
The new policy also addresses key issues such as climate change, health and employment. It will guide investments through 2030. The federal government will use the goals of the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework to guide its decisions. It will address the needs of communities through place-based programs, knowledge, and expertise. The next step will require the collaboration of many partners to close gaps and ensure that the people of the Arctic and the North are full participants in our society.
The Canadian government’s new defence policy released in May has a lot to say about how to maintain the security of Canada’s Arctic and Northern communities. The document highlights the resurgence of major power competition globally and the importance of a strong, secure, and engaged approach to defence.
In addition to a stronger military presence, the policy calls for improved ways to collaborate with Arctic partners. These include developing science and technology partnerships. It also highlights the need for sound weather information and alerting services.
For both the Canadian and Russian governments, the Arctic has become a strategic region. With the Arctic Ocean ripe for trade and transit, both countries have a variety of interests in the circumpolar north. This presents challenges and opportunities. But more importantly, it creates the potential for conflict.
As Canada’s Arctic footprint continues to expand, the government has identified a number of defence and security priorities to address these new challenges. The first of these is strengthening situational awareness.
The Government of Canada is working to advance self-determination for Canadians in the Arctic and North. This is an effort to close gaps in the region and in Canada as a whole. This will involve more local participation, greater focus, and more collaboration. It will also require a renewed nation-to-nation relationship. This is the foundation of reconciliation.
Indigenous peoples continue to play an important role in stewardship of the Arctic and northern ecosystems. They have developed a diverse array of innovative practices, from hunting gear and snowshoes to flourishing trading networks.
The Canadian government has traditionally supported Indigenous communities through targeted programs, but not all communities have benefitted from these initiatives. The government is redressing past wrongs and continuing to improve its relationship with Indigenous peoples.
The Government of Canada’s northern strategy focuses on developing a more effective partnership with Indigenous peoples. The document’s goals and objectives point to a prosperous future. In the future, people of the Arctic and the North will have more power over their lives.
A new Canadian defense policy will have to address the changing dynamics of the North. This must begin with a recognition of the role of Inuit. In Canada’s conventional defence policy framework, Inuit have been exploited and marginalized. But Inuit want to be heard in the future. Inuit want to have a voice in shipping corridors, search and rescue operations, and oil spills.
There are four Inuit regions in Canada: Nunatsiavut – Labrador, Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and Inuvialuit. The Inuit in each region have rights to harvest wildlife and participate in water management and resource development.
The Inuit are a resilient people. Their presence has been ignored by the Canadian state for decades. However, they remain committed to dealing with defence challenges in the global Arctic. In particular, they want to be a part of the Arctic shipping corridors, and to safeguard the waters.
In an effort to ensure that Inuit are a part of Arctic policy, the Government of Canada is developing an initiative. This platform will bring together northern voices to share their perspectives and experiences.