We Are One Mind

On December 20, 2016, U.S. President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released the United States-Canada Joint Arctic Leaders’ Statement. In it Prime Minister Trudeau announced that: “… Canada is committing to co-develop a new Arctic Policy Framework, with Northerners, Territorial and Provincial governments, and First Nations, Inuit, and Métis People that will replace Canada’s Arctic Policy Framework. The Framework will focus on priority areas identified by the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs’ Special Representative, including education, infrastructure, and economic development.”

As the Government of Canada seeks to co-develop this new framework with Northerners, we – Dene Nahjo, Our Voices, and Qanak – offer our thoughts and inputs into this important process. We do so to ensure that the policies which influence our lives are reflective of our realities and supportive of our collective goals.

The Arctic Policy Framework and the subsequent regulations, legislation, and policies it informs must be rooted in the principle that any decision being made that impacts Northerners or Indigenous peoples must involve the active and meaningful engagement of Northern Indigenous peoples, including the design of consultation processes specific to the North. Essential to the success of the Arctic Policy Framework is its ability to support “in the North, by the North” initiatives. This approach informs both how we identify the themes of importance for the Framework, as well as our specific recommendations.

While there are numerous competing priorities for federal funding and northerner’s involvement, we offer three specific themes to focus our collective attention: northerners leading northern policy engagement; protecting future generations; and healthy lands, healthy economies.