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Inuit Voices Key to Canada’s Climate Strategy

ITK President Natan Obed met with federal, provincial, territorial and Indigenous leaders in Vancouver in March to help outline the pan-Canadian framework for clean growth and climate change. © Government of Canada

Protecting the Inuit Nunangat Environment is one of the seven objectives ITK identified in our 2016-2019 Strategy and Action Plan. Our culture, language, and way of life are rooted in our environment and protecting it is imperative for the continuity of Inuit culture and society. Issues such as climate change, resource extraction, and pollution impact our ability to feed our families, sustain local economies, and pass on our knowledge. But our interest in climate change isn’t just about mitigation and adaptation measures, our interest as a people is ensuring the health of the planet for all.

We are advancing this work through participation in the pan-Canadian framework for clean growth and climate change along with federal, provincial, and territorial partners. The framework was established at the First Ministers’ Meeting in Vancouver in March 2016 with the goal of implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement on mitigating emissions of greenhouse gases, climate change adaptation, and finance. This framework set up four working groups to help Canada meet its climate objectives: 1) Clean Technology, Innovation and Jobs; 2) Carbon Pricing Mechanisms; 3) Specific Mitigation Opportunities; and 4) Adaptation and Climate Resilience.

The working groups, co-chaired and made up of federal, provincial and territorial officials, were mandated by First Ministers to complete four reports outlining existing evidence and a suite of policy options in each of the four themed areas and to engage with Indigenous peoples in their work.

ITK, along with other National Indigenous Organizations, receives regular updates on the discussions of the four working groups, but does not have membership in the four groups. ITK is developing a national Inuit report in collaboration with Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada and the four Inuit regional organizations outlining Inuit priori­­ties and recommendations for Canada’s climate strategy for the considera­tion of First Ministers in early fall.

We have requested that this report be considered in parallel with the final reports of the working groups and we will do all we can to ensure that it is provided to the ministerial tables responsible for developing policy recommendations for First Ministers this fall.

ITK is determined to ensure that Inuit voices shape Canada’s climate strategy. Global efforts to transition to a low carbon economy in order to combat climate change are of profound importance to Inuit and shape the choices we face as we adapt our way of life to a rapidly changing climate reality in Inuit Nunangat. We look forward to sharing the Canadian Inuit Report with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change in September and discussing our expectations directly with First Ministers this fall. These discussions will be a key first step to establishing the collaborative partnerships we must foster to ensure that Canada takes a just and equitable approach to a low carbon future.

Natan Obed
President, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami