International Arctic Partners

The North comprises:

  • the Canadian territories of the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, plus Nunavik (northern Quebec) and all of Labrador;
  • the U.S. state of Alaska (except the area known as the Southeast);
  • all of Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland);
  • Iceland;
  • the northern regions of Norway, Sweden and Finland;
  • all of what Russia terms the Arctic and the Russian North; and
  • the marine systems of the Arctic Ocean and its adjacent seas, including the Beaufort, Labrador, Bering, Chukchi, Greenland, Norwegian, Barents, Kara, Laptev and East Siberian seas.

Partnerships and bilateral relations with Arctic countries

Bilateral relations between Canada and the other Arctic countries – including the United States, the Russian Federation and the Nordic Countries – serve to further Canada’s Arctic interests and have resulted in significant partnerships and agreements.

Map of Arctic polar region

Russian Federation

The Arctic identity that Canada shares with the Russian Federation provides a special basis for cooperation between our two countries.

Our geographic closeness and a 40-year-long history of cooperation will ensure that northern issues remain a priority of Canada-Russia relations.

The Agreement on cooperation in the Arctic and the North was signed with the then USSR in 1989. A similar agreement was signed with the Russian Federation in 1992.

Our common Arctic agenda includes joint initiatives on:

  • environmental monitoring;
  • transportation;
  • Aboriginal issues;
  • electrical utilities; and
  • oil and gas.

 This agenda provides support to the Arctic and North Working Group of the Intergovernmental Economic Commission. This brings together Northerners from business and governments on a variety of issues such as:

  • Arctic transportation;
  • northern trade and tourism;
  • corporate social responsibility; and
  • Arctic resource development.

For more information, please see the Embassy of Canada to Russia.

Kingdom of Denmark

As a neighbouring Arctic coastal state and an active Member of the Arctic Council, Canada and Denmark (Greenland) have a strong bilateral relationship.

Historic ties between our respective countries’ Inuit communities as well as shared language, traditions, and culture have fostered solid relations between Nunavut and Greenland. Greenland and Nunavut have a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on cooperation to facilitate a range of cultural and educational arrangements.

In 2010, then Minister of the Environment Jim Prentice visited Greenland to view oil and gas facilities. As a successor to the 1983 Danish – Canadian Agreement for Cooperation relating to the Marine Environment, Greenland cooperates with Canada to develop effective oil and gas guidelines and prevent oil spills.

As Arctic neighbours, Canada and Denmark share a history of collaboration on northern issues based on political dialogue at senior levels and cooperation in international organizations.

Denmark is a valued partner for Canada in the Arctic as we share a similar approach on key Arctic issues.

In May of 2010, the Canadian and Danish Chiefs of Defence Staff signed a MOU on Operational Cooperation in the Arctic. There are yearly joint Canada/Denmark military exercises in the North.

Scientific cooperation between Canada and Denmark/Greenland is growing and includes:

  • climatology;
  • ecosystem monitoring; and
  • joint scientific research on the continental shelf.

In October 2009, Canada, Nunavut and Greenland signed a trilateral MOU on the Conservation and Management of Shared Polar Bear Populations.

In addition, joint fisheries research is undertaken pursuant to an MOU on scientific collaboration between Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources.

For more information, please see the Embassy of Canada to Denmark


Finland shares similar views to Canada with regard to the Arctic Council. Both states see the Arctic Council as the principal intergovernmental forum to deal with Arctic policies and will work to strengthen its policy-making role and institutional capacity

Canada is an observer to the Northern Dimension initiative where Finland cooperates with the European Union, Norway, Iceland and the Russia Federation to further develop concrete cooperation on economic issues.

Arctic shipping is important both for Canada and Finland: More than 80 percent of the Finnish export/import is carried through sea routes. Therefore, Finland has a strong interest in ice-breaker technology and arctic shipbuilding.

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the National Technology Agency of Finland (TEKES) signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2003 to:

  • facilitate cooperation in the field of satellite remote sensing;
  • to promote the commercial potential of space-based applications, products and services; and
  • to consolidate technological and economic development opportunities between Canada and Finland.

For more information, please see the Embassy of Canada to Finland


Iceland, like Canada, is an active participant in the Arctic Council. Canada and Iceland cooperate closely at the Arctic Council on matters related to climate change and Arctic human development.

Bilaterally, Canada and Iceland have strong relations regarding the fishing industry. Iceland is a strong proponent of ensuring sustainable development in the North, including by protecting the marine environment.

For more information, please see the Embassy of Canada to Iceland


As Arctic coastal states, Norway and Canada share close bilateral relations and views toward the Arctic. Both states highlight the importance of the Arctic as a key strategic priority area in the years ahead.

As active members of the Arctic Council, both states view the Arctic Council as a forum in which to promote key interests such as sustainable development.

Norway and Canada undertake an annual bilateral Northern Dialogue which discusses Arctic issues such as climate change and resource management. Furthermore, both states work closely together on international marine and ocean management issues in the Arctic.

For more information, please see the Embassy of Canada to Norway


Sweden and Canada maintain strong bilateral relations due to many cultural and economic ties. Sweden has Arctic territory (although no Arctic Ocean coastline), Arctic peoples (the Saami), and does considerable Arctic research. 

As founding members of the Arctic Council, both Canada and Sweden collaborate to promote circumpolar cooperation in the Arctic region within the context of the Council. Sweden was Chair of the Arctic Council from 2011-13.

During their chairmanship, Sweden advocateding the following priorities, among others:

  • environment and climate;
  • indigenous peoples;
  • Arctic seas; and
  • developing a stronger Arctic Council.

Sweden has particularly emphasized the necessity of working collectively within the Council and of making the voices of the Arctic's inhabitants heard. 

For more information, please see the Embassy of Canada to Sweden

The United States

The United States is our premier partner in the Arctic and we have a long history of cooperation. We collaborate in the realms of science, technology, environmental protection, infrastructure, and surveillance. This work is underwritten by a myriad agreements that together create a sound framework for the economic development and security of the Arctic, consistent with the objectives laid out in:

  • Canada’s Northern Strategy of 2009;
  • Statement of Canada’s Arctic Foreign Policy of 2010; and
  • the United States Presidential Directive on Arctic Region Policy of 2009.

The US and Canada have also cooperated on military exercises in the Arctic. This close collaboration can be seen in Operation Nanook, Canada’s annual military exercises in the Arctic designed to promote Arctic preparedness. In 2010, American and Danish militaries were invited to participate in order to develop joint preparedness.

For more information, please see the Embassy of Canada in Washington.