Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Around the Arctic July 18, 2014 - 12:15 pm

ICC’s pan-Arctic meetings kick off in Inuvik next week

In an ever-evolving Arctic, assembly could be "pivotal," says ICC Canada president

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
The igloo church in Inuvik, NWT, the community hosting the ICC's pan-Arctic gathering July 20-24. (PHOTO COURTESY OF ICC)
The igloo church in Inuvik, NWT, the community hosting the ICC's pan-Arctic gathering July 20-24. (PHOTO COURTESY OF ICC)

One of the largest Inuit-focused assemblies of the year kicks off in Inuvik, NWT, this weekend.

Canada will host the Inuit Circumpolar Council’s pan-Arctic general assembly, which comes to Canada only once every 12 years, starting July 20.

And ICC Canada president Duane Smith says the assembly has the potential to be “the most pivotal ever,” given the unprecedented change seen in the Arctic region in recent years.

“This era is not only bringing challenges to Inuit and to the Arctic, but also opportunities,” the ICC Canada president, Duane Smith, said in June release.

Smith is hosting the assembly on behalf of Canadian Inuit, while Prime Minster Stephen Harper will serve as the assembly’s honorary patron, welcoming delegates and guests by teleconference link.

Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq will give a keynote speech July 21, and is expected to talk about the Canadian chairmanship of the Arctic Council, which Aglukkaq heads.

A centrepiece of that chairmanship is the Arctic Economic Council, which the Arctic Council announced this past March after Canada first proposed a circumpolar business summit.

On July 22, at a special session on Arctic economic development, ICC delegates will discuss whether ICC should plan to hold its own Inuit economic conference.

“What makes this gathering even more pivotal is that Canada’s chairing of the eight-nation Arctic Council, which comes to an Arctic state only once every 16 years, will overlap with Canadian Inuit chairing the ICC starting immediately after the assembly,” Smith said in the news release.

Aqqaluk Lynge of Greenland will chair the gathering, in his last function as ICC’s international chair.

At the end of the assembly on July 24, Okalik Eegeesiak, the outgoing president of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, will replace Lynge in a pre-arranged succession.

Other speakers throughout the week of July 20 to July 24 include Greenland premier Aleqa Hammond, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president Terry Audla, Charlotte Brower, mayor of the North Slope Borough of Alaska, and Anna Otke, a senator with the Council of the Russian Federation who represents Chukotka.

Outside of the assembly, Inuit from across the circumpolar world will take part in cultural exhibits, including a July 20 performance by Iqaluit’s The Jerry Cans.

The ICC holds its general assemblies every four years at locations that rotate among the organization’s three largest national delegations: Alaska, Greenland and Canada.

This year’s gathering will likely attract between 600 and 1,000 people to Inuvik from around the circumpolar world.

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami will hold its annual general meeting in Inuvik July 19.

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