What Canada’s Arctic Council chairmanship means for the North

Leona Aglukkaq, Canada's minister of health, will head the Arctic Council when Canada takes over in May. (Sean Kilpatrick, The Canadian Press)
Leona Aglukkaq, Canada’s minister of health, will head the Arctic Council when Canada takes over in May. (Sean Kilpatrick, The Canadian Press)

When Canada takes over chairmanship of the Arctic Council on May 15, its stated priority is ‘developing the North for northerners’ around the circumpolar world.

But Canada also takes over the organization at one of the most complex times in its history.

The Arctic Council, which includes the eight circumpolar nations (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States), was created as an international forum to discuss Arctic issues.

But with climate change opening up Arctic shipping routes and making previously untapped resources available, the North is receiving unprecedented international attention.

The European Union and several non-Arctic nations, including China and South Korea, are also requesting permanent observer status on the council.

To find out more about the challenges and opportunities ahead for Canada as it takes over the Arctic Council chairmanship, Eye on the Arctic’s Eilís Quinn spoke to Whitney Lackenbauer, an associate professor at St. Jerome’s University , University of Waterloo,  who specializes in Arctic sovereignty and security issues. She reached him in Otterville, Ontario, Canada.

To listen to the complete interview on Radio Canada International, click here

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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