Inuit organization optimistic about Canada’s Arctic Council mandate

The city of Kiruna in Sweden’s Arctic. Sweden will hand over chairmanship of the Arctic Council to Canada here on May 15th. (Olivier Morin, AFP)
The city of Kiruna in Sweden’s Arctic. Sweden will hand over chairmanship of the Arctic Council to Canada here on May 15th.
(Olivier Morin, AFP)

The leader of Canada’s national Inuit organization, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami(ITK), says he’s optimistic about Canada’s upcoming chairmanship of the Arctic Council.

Terry Audla, president of ITK, says the world’s circumpolar countries face a host of complex issues including climate change, international shipping and resource development.

But Canada’s upcoming chairmanship, led for the first time by a Inuk – Canada’s health minister Leona Aglukkaq, – will help educate Canadians and the international community about the Arctic and the people to live there, Audla says.

“The optimism comes from the fact that Inuit are now on the radar of the rest of the world,” he says.  “They (will) start realizing that Inuit do have control over their  resources – non-renewable and renewable  – and they have to be involved in the decision making process when it comes to development of their areas.”

But there are still unresolved issues to be addressed, Audla says.

The European Union has applied for permanent observer status on the Arctic Council, something indigenous organizations are concerned about given the effect the EU seal ban has had on Inuit communities.

To find out more, Eye on the Arctic’s Eilís Quinn reached Terry Audla at his office in Ottawa, Canada.

To listen to their conversation

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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