Gloria Song

This article explores the difficulties of governing solid waste management practices in Nunavut, Canada’s Arctic territory. The governing framework of solid waste management practices is compared with the actual state of landfills in Nunavut, by analyzing inspection reports of three communities in Nunavut (Baker Lake, Gjoa Haven, and Iqaluit) for ten years. This analysis confirms that communities consistently fail to meet waste management standards set by Nunavut’s legal framework. These waste management issues are reflective of larger systemic issues of governance in Nunavut, relating to infrastructure and funding. With the settlement of a recent litigation over treaty implementation problems, and a renewed commitment to the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, it is hoped that these challenges will be overcome. Various measures are suggested, including strengthening the legal framework, providing adequate personnel and training, and including the participation of the public. It is time to shift our conceptualization of the Arctic and its residents from merely viewing them as passive victims of environmental harm, to recognizing that northerners can also be actors with the agency to cause environmental harm. This conceptual shift is necessary in order to better prioritize the governance of solid waste management in the North.

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