Address by Minister Aglukkaq at the Senior Arctic Official Meeting

October 21, 2013 - Whitehorse, Yukon

Check Against Delivery

Good morning, everyone.

It is a real pleasure to be here at the first meeting of Senior Arctic Officials during Canada’s chairmanship. Welcome to Whitehorse and to Canada’s North.

I would like to thank you for the input you provided when Canada was developing the Arctic Council program for the period of our chairmanship. I believe that we have strong priority initiatives that will make a difference in the lives of Northerners. I would like to briefly highlight three of these initiatives.

The first is the establishment of a Circumpolar Business Forum. I am very committed to this initiative. The forum will help enable businesses to seize opportunities to create prosperity for Northern communities. I want to thank Iceland, Russia and Finland for co-leading this initiative with Canada. I am pleased with the work that has been accomplished so far during the two task-force meetings held in Iceland and Russia.

I am confident that you will make even greater strides toward establishing the forum at our next meeting, in Finland this December.  

Second, the new work on oil-pollution prevention in Arctic waters is an important opportunity for the council to show Arctic leadership.  Effective action to prevent oil pollution is critical to protecting the Arctic marine environment, and is an excellent complement to the new agreement on marine oil-pollution preparedness and response that was signed by Arctic states in May.

I’m grateful to Norway and Russia for leading this initiative to develop an action plan, and I encourage the task force to begin its work very soon.

Third, the Arctic Council’s work to increase global awareness of the traditional ways of life of Northerners is something I hope you will all contribute to. Over the next few days, you will learn more about the cultures and stories of the people who live here in Yukon.

As a Northerner and Inuk, I recognize the value of traditional ways of life for communities across the circumpolar region and I believe the council’s work can make a difference.

I have been following the progress that you have been making very closely. I have been learning more about the more than 80 ongoing projects that the council has in its work plan. As you guide the work of the council over the next two years, I encourage you to consider how the council can achieve real results on specific priorities and on the implementation of the recommendations approved by ministers.

I wish you a productive meeting today, and I look forward to hearing about the results of your discussions at dinner tonight.

Thank you. Qujanamiik.