Minister Aglukkaq Concludes Successful Visit to Arctic Council States

January 25, 2013 - The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic Council, this week wrapped up a successful working visit to Iceland, Denmark, Finland and Norway, during which she advanced Canada’s priorities for its upcoming Arctic Council chairmanship.

Minister Aglukkaq takes the chair for two years beginning this May. Her visit presented an opportunity to work with Canada’s Arctic Council partners to build consensus on a strong council program that reflects the emerging challenges facing the Arctic region.

“I would like to thank my hosts for the warm welcome and for the productive and positive exchanges we had,” said Minister Aglukkaq. “As Canada heads into its chairmanship of the Arctic Council, I am encouraged by the strong relationship Canada has with its Nordic neighbours.”

In Reykjavik, Minister Aglukkaq met with Össur Skarphéðinsson, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade, and Svandís Svavarsdóttir, Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources. The ministers discussed the themes of Canada’s Arctic Council chairmanship.

The overarching theme for Canada’s chairmanship will be Development for the People of the North, with sub-themes of Responsible Arctic Resource Development, Safe Arctic Shipping and Sustainable Circumpolar Communities. Specific initiatives will be announced at the May 2013 ministerial meeting in Kiruna, Sweden.

In Copenhagen, Minister Aglukkaq met with Villy Søvndal, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and with Tove Søvndahl Pedersen, Representative of Greenland in Copenhagen. They discussed the challenges and opportunities facing the Arctic and how best to create conditions for dynamic economic growth, vibrant communities and healthy ecosystems.

In Helsinki, Minister Aglukkaq met with Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö and Erkki Tuomioja, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and exchanged views on Canada’s priorities for the Arctic Council. Minister Aglukkaq reiterated Canada’s commitment to champion initiatives that benefit Northern peoples and communities throughout the circumpolar region.

“During my visit I emphasized that we are continuing to work with our Arctic Council partners to ensure the successful conclusion of the current Swedish chairmanship,” said Minister Aglukkaq.

In Tromsø, the Minister met with Espen Barth Eide, Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, with whom she discussed Canada’s Arctic Council priorities and the range of issues facing the council today.

At the Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromsø, Minister Aglukkaq delivered a speech on Canada’s upcoming Arctic Council chairmanship and participated in a round-table discussion with representatives of Indigenous groups and of the Permanent Participants to the Arctic Council. Minister Aglukkaq was hosted by Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide aboard the Norwegian coast guard vessel Svalbard and attended a working dinner with Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs, and current Arctic Council Chair, Carl Bildt.

“It was very important to me to meet with Indigenous groups from across the Arctic,” said Minister Aglukkaq. “Canada’s chairmanship will put Northerners first, and the initiatives the Arctic Council takes will both reflect the views of the people on the ground and benefit Northerners across the circumpolar region.”

For more information, please see Backgrounder - Canada’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council (2013-2015).

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Cailin Rodgers
Office of the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq
Minister of Health, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic Council