Bridget Larocque is Executive Director of Gwich'in Council International.
A Voice from the Arctic
“The North is our home and our destiny.” “Our North, Our Heritage.” These dictums are
published in Canada’s Arctic policy documents and conveyed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in
the media. These statements have to bring comfort to Canada’s Arctic people and guarantee their
security. Gwich’in, Métis, and Inuvialuit have made their home North above the Arctic Circle for
hundreds and thousands of years. Adaptation, progress, and development are not just words for the
indigenous Arctic people; it has been their way of life. Canada’s Arctic People remain a strong and
Canada’s Arctic - its three territories, to be specific - has a sparse population and a vast land mass.
However, a huge portion of the land in these territories is ‘settled’ lands. Modern day treaties
negotiated between Canada and the Aboriginal people addressed land ownership, management of
resources, compensation, and self-government.
However this does not make for a settled mind. Aboriginal people are constantly addressing new
issues; intergovernmental concerns such as devolution, economic development, trade and
investment, sustainable development and self-sufficiency. Many factors need to be considered: the
cost of development, the cost of living, the uncertainty of climate change, impacts of increased
resource extraction and increased shipping routes.
The Arctic Council is the international forum where the indigenous people find some comfort in
knowing that their concerns will be heard and their research questions investigated and answered.
Through their meaningful participation, Arctic states are informed of the living conditions of