To support these goals, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced on August 23, 2012 that the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, will serve as Canada’s Chair of the Arctic Council. The Prime Minister also announced his intention to have Minister Aglukkaq appointed as Minister for the Arctic Council. In addition to chairing the Ministerial Meeting in 2015, Minister Aglukkaq will discharge the role of Canada’s ambassador to the Arctic Council. Minister Aglukkaq will continue with her existing responsibilities in addition to this new assignment.
In this new capacity, Minister Aglukkaq will be responsible for developing and delivering the Arctic Council programme that will be undertaken during Canada’s chairmanship of the organization from 2013 to 2015. As part of her role as Chair of the Arctic Council, Minister Aglukkaq will be working with territorial governments, Canadian indigenous permanent participants and other Arctic states to develop the Arctic Council programme. Minister Aglukkaq will begin leading this work immediately.
Established in Ottawa in 1996 with the Ottawa Declaration, the Arctic Council is the leading forum for cooperation on Arctic issues. It is a consensus-based, high-level intergovernmental forum that works to promote the environmental, social and economic aspects of sustainable development in the region through cooperation and coordination between eight Arctic states: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States.
The Arctic Council also actively involves indigenous people who participate as Permanent Participants. The Permanent Participants of the Arctic Council are: Arctic Athabaskan Council (AAC); Gwichi’in Council International (GCI); Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC); Aleut International Association (AIA); Saami Council; and the Russian Arctic Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON).
Decisions within the Arctic Council are taken at meetings of foreign ministers that are held every two years. At this meeting, the Chairmanship of the Council rotates from one of the eight members to another. The last ministerial meeting was held in Nuuk, Greenland in May 2011 during which Sweden took over the chairmanship from Denmark. The next Ministerial Meeting will be held in May 2013, in Kiruna, Sweden where Canada will officially assume the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council. Canada held the first Chairmanship of the Arctic Council from 1996-1998.
The Arctic Council continues to be the leading multilateral forum through which Canada advances its Arctic foreign policy and promotes national interests across all four pillars of Canada’s Northern Strategy:
1) exercising our Arctic sovereignty;
2) promoting social and economic development;
3) protecting our environmental heritage; and
4) improving and devolving governance.
This document is also available in Inuktitut at http://pm.gc.ca/grfx/docs/20120823_BG2_Inuktitut.pdf