Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut July 22, 2014 - 6:02 am

Aglukkaq slams Greenpeace’s attempts to make amends with Inuit

"We have to ask how do we take control of our own future"

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
Nunavut MP and Arctic Council chair Leona Aglukkaq at the July 21 opening ceremonies of ICC's general assembly in Inuvik. (PHOTO COURTESY GOVERNMENT OF CANADA)
Nunavut MP and Arctic Council chair Leona Aglukkaq at the July 21 opening ceremonies of ICC's general assembly in Inuvik. (PHOTO COURTESY GOVERNMENT OF CANADA)

Nunavut MP and Arctic Council chair Leona Aglukkaq used her July 21 keynote address at the Inuit Circumpolar Council general assembly in Inuvik to suggest that the environmental activist group Greenpeace is using Inuit to fight its own battles.

She also encouraged Inuit to stand up for their traditional way of life.

In her speech to the assembly in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Aglukkaq took aim at Greenpeace, which recently took the community of Clyde River’s fight against seismic testing of the coast of Baffin Island to the United Nations.

Greenpeace cited the community’s recent efforts on social media to halt a five-year seismic testing scheme in the waters of Baffin Bay and Davis Strait off eastern Nunavut, approved by the National Energy Board last month.

“When you look around the world often times it is easy to get caught up in the agendas that some environmental groups like to push without considering the human dimension,” she said. “The reality is that there are lots of environmental groups who say that they speak for and represent Inuit or Aboriginal people while at the same time they campaign against traditional ways of life like the seal hunt.

“These groups do not base these campaigns on facts or science, but instead on what they view to be a moral high ground,” she said. 

“The ironic part is that from their moral high ground, they completely disregard the rights and traditions of entire groups of people.”

Aglukkaq pointed to Greenpeace’s campaign of “misinformation against the seal hunt” through the 1970s, from which “devastating impacts… still longer today.”

At the end of the day, Inuit were the victims of that misinformation, she said.

Aglukkaq also noted a recent editorial, published in Nunatsiaq News, in which Greenpeace apologized to Inuit for the damage that campaign may have caused.

“An apology is great, but it doesn’t undo the damage that Inuit communities have felt as a direct result of their actions,” Aglukkaq said. “This is a perfect illustration of why it is important for Inuit to stand up for our way of life.

“Other people who are not our friends will try to use Inuit as weapons in their own battles,” she said. “We have to think bigger than that. We have to ask how do we take control of our own future.”

Aglukkaq, who also serves as federal environment minister, did not mention an open letter published in Nunatsiaq News July 21 asking her government to put a stop to seismic testing in waters off Nunavut.

Instead, Aglukkaq pointed to the need for a strong Arctic Council agenda that puts northerners first, and call for better efforts to address mental health across the North.

Aglukkaq will preside over the founding meeting of the Arctic Economic Council Sept. 2 and Sept. 3 in Iqaluit, which she has said will “facilitate business opportunities, trade, investment and growth in the best interests of northerners.”

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