Canadian Inuit leader to advise government on Arctic

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Inuit leader Mary Simon (pictured above in a 2010 file photo) was named as a Minister’s Special Representative for the Arctic by the federal government on Friday. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Inuit leader Mary Simon (pictured above in a 2010 file photo) was named as a Minister’s Special Representative for the Arctic by the federal government on Friday. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
One of Canada’s most prominent Inuit leaders has been named by the federal government as their special adviser on Arctic issues.

Mary Simon is well known in Canada as a journalist, former leader of Canada’s national Inuit organization and former ambassador to Denmark.

“For more than four decades, Ms. Simon has been a leader advancing Indigenous rights not only here in Canada but around the world,” Carolyn Bennett, Canada’s Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs said in a statement on Friday.

“Her extensive expertise will help inform Canada’s Arctic policies. This open and collaborative engagement is an important first step in working with our partners to strengthening the biodiversity of the Arctic while planning for the sustainable economic and social development of the region for generations to come.”

Climate change in the North
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (left) and U.S. President Barack Obama at a joint news conference in March 2016 were they outlined the U.S.-Canada Joint Statement on Climate, Energy, and Arctic Leadership. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (left) and U.S. President Barack Obama at a joint news conference in March 2016 were they outlined the U.S.-Canada Joint Statement on Climate, Energy, and Arctic Leadership. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

The federal government said the appointment was made to assist them in realizing the goals outlined in the US-Canada Joint Statement on Climate, Energy and Arctic Leadership made in March 2016.

The statement reaffirmed the two countries commitments to implementing the Paris Climate Agreement and tackling climate issues. But it also highlighted  “A shared Arctic leadership model” focusing on the importance of working with northern indigenous peoples on both environmental change and the myriad of issues faced by Arctic communities including lack of housing, infrastructure and mental health services.

“The Shared Arctic Leadership Model is a very important aspect of the future of the Arctic and its people,” said Mary Simon on Firday. “I see it as an opportunity to give clear focus on the needs, realities and deep opportunities within northern communities when planning the future of the Arctic region.”

The government says Simon’s mandate will include “reviewing Arctic policies and strategies, and providing advice on potential new conservation goals for the Arctic.”

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca

Related stories from around the North:

Canada:  The EU’s Arctic policy – A means, not an end, Blog by Heather Exner-Pirot

Denmark:  Nordic countries discuss closer defense cooperation, The Independent Barents Observer

Finland:  Japan, Finland agree to boost cooperation in the Arctic, The Indpendent Barents Observer

Iceland:  Iceland blasts Arctic Five for exclusion from fishing agreement, Eye on the Arctic

Norway:  EU unveils integrated Arctic policy, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia:  Russia’s Arctic policy up for remake, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden:   Arctic Council – From looking out to looking in, Blog by Mia Bennett, Cryopolitics

United States: U.S. needs Arctic military strategy says defense secretary, Alaska Public Radio Network

 

 

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Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is a journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic circumpolar news project. At Eye on the Arctic, Eilís has produced documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the circumpolar world. Her documentary Bridging the Divide was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards. Eilís began reporting on the North in 2001. Her work as a reporter in Canada and the United States, and as TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China" has taken her to some of the world’s coldest regions including the Tibetan mountains, Greenland and Alaska; along with the Arctic regions of Canada, Russia, Norway and Iceland.

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