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Canada’s Arctic Today
Sarah Cox (SC): It is important to understand that while I have worked on Northern issues for 8 years, worked in partnership with northerners and I have travelled up there, I am not a Northerner. First of all, there is the sheer vastness of the place. There are about 200,000 people in the Arctic, yet it represents 40% of Canada’s landmass. There are four Inuit regions in Canada’s Arctic. While everyone has heard of Nunavut, there is also Inuvialuit (the northwestern part of the Northwest Territories), Nunatsiavut (Northern Labrador), and Nunavik (Northern Quebec). All four are settled land claims, which is pretty progressive.TRENT Magazine (TM): 64% of Canadians live within 100km of the US border—and the vast majority of Canadians live closer to the United States than the Arctic. While we consider ourselves a northern nation, most Canadians don't have a firm grasp of life up North or the issues that Northern Canada is currently facing. Could you give us snapshot of the North as you know it?
SC: Another huge question! We need to collaborate more and enter into equal partnerships with Arctic residents. Above all else, we need to listen. Gone are the days where “made in Ottawa” solutions are shipped north for implementation without extensive input from those for whom these solutions have been designed. We need to learn more about the Arctic, and if possible, go up there. The Arctic Council and the SDWG need to do a more thorough job of communicating with Northerners and with the rest of Canada about the challenges and successes that are coming out these efforts. Southerners and others who are working with Arctic residents need to remember to always respect local experience and to value local knowledge. The Arctic needs Southerners to be ambassadors for them.TM: What more do we need to do?