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.
Our group arrived at the US Embassy Monday morning marking the official beginning of our research trip in Ottawa. We were warmly greeted by the Special Advisor for Energy and Environment, Mr. Locklear, as soon as we checked in and passed through security. He then gave us a brief tour of the architecture within the interior of the Embassy and brought us to a conference room where other officials await. There we met representatives from different departments who were prepared to share their insights and expertise on issues within the Arctic region with us. Among these were Arctic experts such as Danielle Monosson, the Deputy Counselor, and Miguel Rodrigues, who is the Arctic officer at the Embassy. During the visit, the topic of territorial dispute between US and Canada was brought up, and although the context of the responses were not unexpected, it helped us gain a clearer understanding of a unique relationship between the two neighboring nations in which they “agree to disagree” as a way to keep collaborative efforts on other issues. We also got a chance to discuss varieties of other different issues ranging from climate change, economic development, the well being of indigenous communities, to security concerns within the region. Our visit to the US embassy was particularly helpful to our research as we got a chance to discuss with the Embassy officials regarding the United State’s current chairmanship of the Arctic Council and the progress of their work towards their goals. This is a unique and beneficial opportunity as we were able to gain direct updates on the progress of projects under the United States chairmanship, particularly the development of a mental health wellness program for the indigenous population. Most importantly, we received the honor of meeting the US Ambassador to Canada himself, Bruce Heyman, and got the chance to ask him further questions on the Arctic, such as the question of promoting consciousness on Arctic issues within the United States. This topic was especially of great interest since there has been a lack of dialogue on this problem both within our research and the academic world in general. What was particularly surprising for us was the Ambassador’s statement on his belief that economic interest is what will ultimately bring consciousness to the Arctic region. Overall, we enjoyed our visit and thankful to be able to start off our trip at the US Embassy.
By: Ivalene Laohajaratsang