Arctic Council’s indigenous participants eye Arctic Council under Aglukkaq

“We trust that this cooperation will continue”

By SPECIAL TO NUNATSIAQ NEWS

The Inuit Circumpolar Council's president Aqqaluk Lynge speaks May 15 at the Arctic Council ministerial meeting in Kiruna, Sweden. (PHOTO COURTESY OF THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES SECRETARIAT)


The Inuit Circumpolar Council’s president Aqqaluk Lynge speaks May 15 at the Arctic Council ministerial meeting in Kiruna, Sweden. (PHOTO COURTESY OF THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES SECRETARIAT)

ALEX BOYD

KIRUNA, SWEDEN — Will Leona Aglukkaq, Canada’s Arctic Council minister, carry out her determination to “put the interests of the people of the Arctic first” during Canada’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council?

That’s the hope of representatives of the Arctic Council’s indigenous permanent participant groups, who attended the May 15 Arctic Council ministerial in Kiruna, Sweden.

“We appreciate that Canada from the outset has made a point of involving the Saami in their preparations for the chairmanship,” said Aile Javo, president of the Saami Council, said May 15 at the ministerial gathering.

“We trust that this cooperation will continue.”

Javo’s statement echoed that of the Inuit Circumpolar Council delegation, led by ICC president Aqqaluk Lynge, who also noted Aglukkaq’s northern roots.

“With your close relationship to Inuit and the people of the North, we are sure that you will fulfill your country’s aspirations,” Lynge said.

Bill Erasmus, grand chief of the Dene Nation in the Northwest Territories and international vice-chair of the Arctic Athabaskan Council, said, ‘My understanding of the minister’s discussion is that she wanted to look at economies, look at the social factors, look at the health and well-being of people, and we welcome that.”

Erasmus, who attended the Peoples Arctic conference before the Arctic Council meeting and signed a Greenpeace-sponsored statement against Arctic oil drilling, said economic talk is probably inevitable as climate change forces people to adapt.

The issue may be making sure that all indigenous voices are included.

“We all have different views,” he said. “And it’s going to take some time to put that together.”

Among the hopes of Arctic indigenous representatives in Kiruna: “more attention to the Indigenous peoples’ cultural heritage, sacred sites and cultural landscapes.”

Responding to Canada’s interest in boosting economic development in the Arctic region, the president of the Saami Parliament in Norway Egil Olli, said “management of resources must include protection of the basis for indigenous industries, culture and language.”

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