Arctic MP named to federal cabinet in Canada

Hunter Tootoo being sworn in on Wednesday as Canada's minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. (CBC News)
Hunter Tootoo being sworn in on Wednesday as Canada’s minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. (CBC News)
The newly-elected MP from Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut has been named minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.

Hunter Tootoo was sworn in along with the rest of the new Liberal government during a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Canada’s capital city of Ottawa on Wednesday.

Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna tweeted out his congratulations Wednesday morning.


Shortly after the swearing in ceremony, environmental group Greenpeace said the appointment of a northerner to the Fisheries and Oceans post was a positive move for the environment.

“As the MP for Nunavut, Mr. Tootoo is perfectly placed to be a strong advocate for the North, and can ensure that the Arctic Ocean is prioritized as part of the Liberals promise to increase the amount of protected marine and coastal areas from 1.3 per cent to 5 per cent by 2017 and 10 per cent by 2020,” Jessica Wilson, head of Greenpeace Canada’s Arctic campaign, said in a news release.

Second Inuk to serve in cabinet

Tootoo is the second Inuk to serve in a cabinet position.

Leona Aglukkaq, also a former Nunavut MP, served both as minister of Health and minister of Environment under the previous Conservative government.

Tootoo defeated Aglukkaq on the October 19 elections with a campaign highlighting Liberal promises like increasing benefits for northern residents and investing $40 million in the Nutrition North program that subsidizes healthy food shipped to Canada’s remote communities.

Hunter Tootoo (left in red jacket) campaigns with Liberal leader Justin Trudeau in Iqaluit. Nunavut on October 10, 2015. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)
Hunter Tootoo (left in red jacket) campaigns with Liberal leader Justin Trudeau in Iqaluit. Nunavut on October 10, 2015. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)
Aboriginal affairs and environment

Other cabinet appointments closely watched by the North include indigenous affairs and environment.

Ottawa Centre MP Catherine McKenna was sworn in as minister of Environment and Climate Change.

Carolyn Bennett, an MP for the riding of Toronto-St-Paul’s, was named Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada:  What does Trudeau win mean for Arctic?, Blog by Mia Bennett

Finland: UN rep. urges suspension of Sámi elections, Yle News

Greenland:  Greenland, Alaska elections bolster Arctic resource extraction, Blog by Mia Bennett

Norway: Conservative victory in Norway: What does it mean for the Arctic?, Blog by Mia Bennett

Sweden:  Land, water rights big issues in Sweden’s Sami elections, Radio Sweden

United States: Feature Interview – The politics of climate, Eye on the Arctic



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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