Canada and the circumpolar Arctic

The Arctic is central to Canada’s national identity, prosperity, security, values and interests. The Canadian Arctic covers 40% of Canada’s territory and is home to more than 200,000 inhabitants, more than half of whom are Indigenous.

Canada’s Arctic priorities involve many departments across the Government of Canada, both at home and internationally.

Canada is committed to addressing:

Global Affairs Canada and the Arctic

Global Affairs Canada is responsible for coordinating and leading the international aspects of Canada’s Arctic engagement. This work is mainly carried out by the Circumpolar Affairs Division, at headquarters, and the Canadian International Arctic Centre (CIAC), located in Oslo, Norway, as well as by Canadian missions around the world. Canada is an active member of the Arctic Council, the main international body for Arctic cooperation. 

Global Affairs Canada’s main objectives in the circumpolar Arctic are to:

Canada’s submission to the Commission on the limits of the Continental Shelf

On May 23, 2019 Canada filed a 2,100 page submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf at United Nations. This follows a decade of scientific and legal work to determine the limits of Canada’s undersea landmass in the Arctic. This marks the first step in the process set out in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to obtain international recognition for the outer limits of the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean.

A new Arctic Policy Framework

In December 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced several actions regarding the Arctic. This revised approach includes the development of a new Arctic Policy Framework with Northerners, and territorial and provincial governments, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis People. These steps will replace Canada’s 2009 Northern Strategy and 2010 Arctic Foreign Policy Statement. This work is led by Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, while Global Affairs Canada and the Department of National Defence lead the international dimensions.

For Arctic-related updates from Global Affairs Canada, follow us on Twitter at @CanadaArctic.

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