Task Force students from JSIS 495C: The Arctic – A New Player in International Relations, traveled to Canada’s capital, Ottawa, from January 23rd to 30th, 2016 to engage in on-the-ground research with organizations and specialists in the field and learn about climate change and the current issues facing the Arctic region. Below are student articles of their trip and learning experience.
The Artic Task Force met with Nadia Bouffard, the Director General of External Relations, Strategic Policy at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Nadia shared with us her personal experience contributing to several key accomplishments under Fisheries and Oceans Canada (such as an Arctic framework on fishing regulations among the five coastal states) in order to enhance cross-border understanding and protection of the Arctic ecosystem, and to promote sustainable Indigenous and commercial fishing. Nadia’s acknowledgement of including Indigenous representation at the negotiation table of international fishing regulations is especially encouraging. The increasing threat to traditional fishing and food security from climate change can pose additional stress and affect Northerners’ physical and mental health. Nadia also expressed her excitement to work with Mr. Hunter Tootoo, Canada’s newly appointed Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. Tootoo is also the first Inuk to hold this posting. She acknowledged that under Tootoo’s leadership, Canada can further its world-leading high standard of ocean and fisheries management and better co-manage Canada’s three oceans with Indigenous people. Nadia also brought our attention to the Mandate Letters from the new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to all ministers. With a high emphasis of openness and transparency of the new government, the Mandate Letters are accessible online to the public and are giving each department specific and actionable directions. Additionally, Nadia also commented on Canada’s leadership on the Arctic Council regarding fisheries and oceans. First, Canada is proud of establishing a Pan-Arctic network of Marine Protected Areas, that underpins traditional and current livelihoods and way of life. Nadia mentioned Canada’s effort to further support the Pan-Arctic network’s development, under the current U.S. chairmanship as well as the upcoming Finland chairmanship of the Arctic Council. Second, Nadia acknowledged a fairly good participation from Russia on the expert level among working groups, despite the unfortunate loss of engagement with the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North due to potential internal issue with the government seven years ago. Our meeting with Nadia confirmed Canada’s leading effort to set high bars in terms of establishing international agreements in Fisheries and Oceans. With the new government’s emphasis of incorporating Indigenous Traditional Knowledge into the planning and negotiation process of Arctic environmental issues, it is promising to see how the Arctic Council will continue to play a strategic role in protecting the increasingly fragile and ever-changing Arctic ecosystem, under the Chairmanship of the U.S. and Finland.
By: Claire Wang