Above: Dr. Gary Wilson (center from left) with Arctic Research Fellows Nathan Stackpoole, David Wishard, and Jason Young; FLAS Inuktitut scholars Caitlyn Evans and Walter O’Toole; and Arctic Task Force Alumni Griffith Couser (01/14).
by Annie Banel, MPA Candidate, Evans School of Public Affairs; Canadian Studies Center Reporter
Vince Gallucci gave the opening remarks at Wilson’s talk and thanked Wilson for his help designing the new Arctic Studies minor at UW. Gallucci introduced Wilson as the preeminent expert on Inuit autonomy in Canada and internationally and recognized UNBC as a seminal member of the University of the Arctic. Gallucci stated that Canada-Inuit relations are “silent but profound” and that the Arctic is in a decade of self-determination.Dr. Gary N. Wilson’s lecture, “Inuit Regional Autonomy: The Evolution of Governance Regimes in the Canadian Arctic,” on January 30, 2014 set the stage for the Pacific Northwest Canadian Studies Consortium Annual General Meeting the next day. Dr. Gary N. Wilson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and the Coordinator of the Northern Studies Program at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC). He also serves on the Executive of the Association of Canadian Universities for Northern Studies (ACUNS) and is the Associate Director of the Pacific Northwest Canadian Studies Consortium.
Wilson’s research focuses primarily on issues relating to governance and politics in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of Canada and Russia. In this lecture, Wilson focused on how the Inuit regions of Nunatsiavut in northern Labrador, Nunavik in northern Québec and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region in the Northwest Territories have achieved or are in the process of achieving self-government. These three territories differ from Nunavut, the new territory that was created in the predominantly Inuit region of the eastern Arctic in 1999, in that they are all nested within existing provinces and territories, a reality that complicates their political development. Wilson’s research on Inuit regional autonomy in the provincial and territorial north examines the some of the important and groundbreaking developments that are taking place in these regions as they prepare for the political, economic and social challenges associated with self-government.
Wilson explained that he sees the Arctic through the lenses of a political scientist and used the idea of nested federalism to explore how new governments in the Inuit regions interact with some degree of autonomy with the territorial, provincial, and federal levels to result in multilevel governance. Wilson called the Inuit “a very pragmatic people” and asserted that the innovations in governance in the Arctic, including the Inuit Circumpolar Council, were all built carefully and organically. Wilson highlighted nonstate actors’ growing political power as an example of how state power is shifting horizontally to institutions operating with discretion from the state, especially development corporations.
Moving forward, Wilson sees three major opportunities and challenges for Inuit regional autonomy: accommodating new structures within a multilevel government; resolving conflict within Inuit multilevel government structures and managing relations between entities; and building financial and administrative capacity. Wilson emphasized education as critical so that Inuit can take on more management roles as enhanced regional autonomy brings greater financial and administrative responsibilities, both internally and externally. To learn more about Wilson’s Inuit Regional Autonomy project at the University of Northern British Columbia, please visit: unbc.ca/inuit-regional-autonomy.
Dr. Gary N. Wilson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and the Coordinator of theNorthern Studies Program at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC). He also serves on the Executive of the Association of Canadian Universities for Northern Studies (ACUNS) and is the Associate Director of the Pacific Northwest Canadian Studies Consortium. Dr. Wilson’s research focuses primarily on issues relating to governance and politics in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of Canada and Russia.