Aglukkaq Kicks Off Meetings on Arctic Council


Minister to engage Northerners on Canada’s Arctic Council priorities

October 26, 2012 - The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic Council, will meet with Northern premiers and key stakeholders as she begins to develop Canada’s priorities for its upcoming two-year chairmanship of the Arctic Council.

Minister Aglukkaq will be in her home territory of Nunavut, conducting meetings in Iqaluit on October 27. She will then continue on to Whitehorse on November 2 and Yellowknife on November 3.

“Our government is committed to helping the North realize its true potential as a healthy, prosperous and secure region within a strong and sovereign Canada,” said Aglukkaq. “As we prepare for our chairmanship of the Arctic Council in May 2013, I am seeking the views of Northerners to make sure their interests, values and cultures shape Canadian policy on international Arctic issues.”

During her trip, the Minister will participate in round-table discussions, seeking the views of key Northern stakeholders on Canada’s upcoming Arctic Council chairmanship. She will outline the Arctic Council’s role and mandate in the circumpolar region, Canada’s overall objectives during its two-year chairmanship, and encourage Northerners to share their views on circumpolar priorities.

“The Arctic is fundamental to Canada’s national identity,” said Aglukkaq. “As a proud Northerner, I am passionate about working with people across our three territories to help bring a strong, united voice for Canada to the international scene.”

The Arctic Council is the leading intergovernmental forum through which Canada advances its Arctic foreign policy and promotes national interests across all four pillars of Canada’s Northern Strategy:

  • exercising Canada’s Arctic sovereignty;
  • promoting social and economic development;
  • protecting Canada’s environmental heritage; and
  • improving and devolving governance.

Canada will assume responsibilities as chair of the Arctic Council for two years, starting in May 2013.

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A backgrounder follows.

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Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
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Cailin Rodgers
Office of the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq
Federal Minister of Health

Backgrounder - Canada’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council (2013-2015)

The Government of Canada is committed to helping the North realize its true potential as a healthy, prosperous and secure region within a strong and sovereign Canada. To this end, Canada works closely with other Arctic states to promote and protect its northern interests and to cooperate on a broader vision for the region.

On August 23, 2012, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the appointment of the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, as Canada’s chair of the Arctic Council.

Established in Ottawa in 1996 with the Ottawa Declaration, the Arctic Council is the leading forum for cooperation on Arctic issues. It is a consensus-based, high-level intergovernmental forum that works to promote the environmental, social and economic aspects of sustainable development in the region through cooperation and coordination among eight Arctic states: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States.

The Arctic Council also actively involves indigenous people, who have a special role as Permanent Participants. The Permanent Participants of the Arctic Council are the Arctic Athabaskan Council, Gwichi’in Council International, Inuit Circumpolar Council, Aleut International Association, Saami Council and Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North.

Decisions within the Arctic Council are taken at ministerial meetings held every two years. Ministerial meetings also mark the transition from one chairmanship to the next. The last ministerial meeting was held in Nuuk, Greenland, in May 2011, during which Sweden took over the chairmanship from Denmark.

The next ministerial meeting will be held in May 2013, in Kiruna, Sweden, where Canada will officially assume the chairmanship of the Council. Canada held the first chairmanship, from 1996 to 1998.