Impressions from Canada’s Senior Arctic Official

The World Policy blog posted an article titled, “Impressions from Canada’s Senior Arctic Official.” The article reads in part as follows;

“Even though I am new to the role as Canada’s Senior Arctic Official (SAO), I have a history with the Arctic from within our foreign ministry, and I am delighted to be back. From 1993-95, I worked as a desk officer on the International Arctic and Forest issues file. That work related to the Arctic Environment Protection Strategy, and since the governance and structure of the AEPS were folded into the Arctic Council, much of the language is familiar to me. Also familiar from those days is the remarkable spirit of collaboration that still thrives in the Arctic Council. What follows are a few of my strongest impressions from my first six weeks on the job, from the Arctic Council and Arctic Circle Assembly to working with Canada’s northern communities.

Format of the Arctic Council

Already being familiar with the Arctic Council from work in the run-up to its establishment, I knew who the key players would be and how the Council would work. What has now caught my attention is how well the format works. Indigenous representatives are at the table. Consensus-based decisions are made. Each Arctic state negotiates a balance between its domestic Arctic needs and the interests of the greater circumpolar region. For example, Canada’s Arctic interests and issues to address are vastly different from the concerns Sweden may have, and the same goes for including Indigenous voices. The Sami of the Barents region have very different relationships with their sub-national and state governments than those of the Inuit of Canada or the Aleut in Alaska. We are all aware of these differences and as a group work incredibly well to ensure perspectives are understood and addressed in the decisions we make. ”

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