May 7, 2019 – Ottawa, Ontario – Global Affairs Canada
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, concluded her trip to Rovaniemi, Finland, today, where she participated in the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting.
The Minister announced more than $28 million toward Canada’s Arctic foreign policy, including the establishment of a new sustainable development office in Canada and funding to support research in the Arctic region through the University of the Arctic.
Minister Freeland emphasized the need for greater inclusion of Indigenous voices and traditional knowledge in all Arctic policy development. As further commitment to advancing reconciliation, the Minister announced increased funding for continued Indigenous participation in the Arctic Council.
At the meetings, the Minister stressed the importance of a collective approach in dealing with climate change. The Minister also took the opportunity to underscore Canada’s support for the rules-based international order and stressed that the Arctic Council must continue to be a forum in which multilateral cooperation can address many of the challenges facing the Arctic region.
On the sidelines of the meeting, Minister Freeland held bilateral meetings with many of her counterparts including:
- Mike Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of State
- Ine Eriksen Søreide, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway
- Margot Wallström, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden
- Lisa Murkowski, U.S. Senator for Alaska
“Being an Arctic country carries with it the responsibility of being a steward of this rich but vulnerable region. The most pressing issues facing the Arctic-such as climate change and the difficulties Indigenous people face-know no borders. Since 1996, the Arctic Council has made much progress in a range of areas. Canada is committed to working with its partners to ensure that it remains a forum for international cooperation for decades to come.”
– Hon. Chrystia Freeland, P.C., M.P., Minister of Foreign Affairs
The Arctic Council was established in Ottawa in 1996 with the Ottawa Declaration. Canada was the first chair of the Arctic Council, from 1996 to 1998, and again from 2013 to 2015. The chair of the Arctic Council rotates among the member countries every two years.
The Arctic Council’s member states are Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States.
Six Indigenous peoples’ organizations are permanent participants at the Arctic Council, contributing Indigenous perspectives as a crucial part of the council’s work. Three of the permanent participants include Canadian representation: the Arctic Athabaskan Council, Gwich’in Council International and Inuit Circumpolar Council.
Canada is currently co-developing a renewed Arctic policy framework with Northerners; territorial and provincial governments; and First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, which will replace Canada’s Northern Strategy and Statement on Canada’s Arctic Foreign Policy.