An Inuit inukshuk is pictured in downtown Inuvik with the town's igloo shaped church in the background.

The Inuit Circumpolar Council general assembly took place in the Arctic town of Inuvik (pictured) in Canada's Northwest Territories. (Eilís Quinn / Eye on the Arctic)

International Inuit organization calls for better cooperation across Arctic

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The Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) general assembly wrapped up in Canada last week with the naming of a new Chair and a declaration calling for better cooperation among Inuit in everything from health and environment to business.

The general assembly is held every four years with participants from all of ICC’s regional offices: ICC-Greenland, ICC-Canada and ICC-Alaska and ICC-Chukotka (Russia), to determine their priorities over the next four years.

This year, the meeting was held in the Arctic town of Inuvik in Canada’s Northwest Territories.

Inuit Circumpolar Council – Quick Facts

  • non-governmental organization founded in 1977 in Barrow, Alaska
  • represents roughly 150,000 Inuit in Canada, Greenland, the United States and Russia
  • general assembly held every four years
  • promotes Inuit rights and culture
New ICC chair  from Canada
Okalik Egeesiak, new chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council. (

Okalik Egeesiak, new chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council. (

At the end of the assembly on July 24, Chairmanship of the organization passed from Greenland’s Aqqaluk Lynge to Canada’s  Okalik Eegeesiak.

Eegeesiak is the former president of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, a regional Inuit association in Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut.

Focus on Arctic governance

At the end of the assembly, the ICC issued the  Kitigaaryuit Declaration, setting out its priorities for the next four years.

It stressed the need for Inuit from across the North to be present at all levels of discussion on issues like resource development and environment.

Sara Olsvig, a Greenlandic politician and Chairperson of Arctic Parliamentarians said that while even non-Arctic states had made important contributions forums like the Arctic Council, decision making had to remain in the North.

“The development of the Arctic must be determined by the people of the Arctic,” she said.

A 2010 Eye on the Arctic interview with former ICC-Chair Aqqaluk Lynge on language:

Environment minister gave opening address

Canada’s environment minister and minister for the Arctic Council  Leona Aglukkaq, herself an Inuk from Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut, gave the keynote address on  Monday, July 21st.

In it, she also took a swipe at environmental groups and the negative effects their campaigns have had on indigenous Arctic communities.  She singled out Greenpeace and its role in advocating for the end to the seal hunt.

Aglukkaq called it “A perfect illustration of why it is so important for Inuit to stand up for their way of life.”

“Other people who are not our friends will try to use Inuit as weapons in their own battles,” she said.

The next ICC General Assembly will take place in 2018 in Barrow, Alaska.

Related items from around the North:

Canada: Canada’s Arctic Council leadership gets mixed reviews, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Ex-President Ahtisaari calls on Finland to join NATO with Sweden, Yle News

Greenland:  Greenland urged to work with Arctic Council, CBC News

Iceland:  Many questions, but few answers as Arctic conference gets underway in Iceland, Alaska Dispatch

Norway:   Permanent Arctic Council Secretariat opens in Tromso, strengthening Norway’s position in Arctic, Blog by Mia Bennett

Sweden: Feature Interview: Sweden wraps up Arctic Council, Radio Sweden

Russia:  Blog – Russia puts countries on edge in the Arctic, Cryopolitics

United States: U.S. participation in Arctic Council lacks coordination, follow-through: report, Alaska Dispatch


Categories: Economy, Environment & Animal Life, Indigenous, International
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