In spring quarter 2019, the IPI Arctic Initiative teamed up with the Polar Research and Policy Institute to provide a panel, titled International Borders in the North American Arctic: Implications for Indigenous Communities, at the annual Arctic Encounters Symposium in Seattle.
Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm, Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation Government, asked what would happen if international borders disappeared, and noted that climate change is challenging how we understand political borders. Tony Penikett, former premier of Yukon and UW’s 2013–2014 Fulbright Canada Visiting Chair in Arctic Studies, noted that land claims agreements provided the most significant change to the North. Nadine Fabbi described how, in addition to land claims agreements, the Inuit in Canada are remapping and renaming the Arctic region and this has policy implications. In 2005 the national Inuit association in Canada, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, created the first Inuit map and renamed the region Inuit Nunangat, an Inuktitut term that includes water and ice as part of territory, which could have implications for international law. This new map was immediately used to challenge the Government of Canada’s 2009 domestic Arctic policy, which had mainly used a conventional map of the territories that excluded two Inuit regions.
Panelists also included Merven Gruben, mayor of the Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories; Tony Penikett, former premier of the Yukon and UW’s Canada Fubright Chair in Arctic Studies (2013-14); Mike Perry, executive director of the City of Kawartha Lakes Family Health Team, Ontario; Greg Boos and Heather Fathali, Cascadia Cross-Border Law; and Dwayne Menezes, Polar Research and Policy Institute. Alice Rogoff, ArcticToday, provided closing remarks. Some of the policy suggestions made by panelists were covered in ArcticToday, “How restrictions along U.S.-Canada border divide an Indigenous Arctic people.”