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Climate change, alternative energy, infrastructure and culture at Northern Lights 2020

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Arctic Bay, Nunavut, hand made crafts: Ulus by various artists, an ulu-inspired clock and infant mitts. © Doris Ohlmann (10)

Delegates at this year’s Northern Lights Business and Cultural Showcase at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, from February 5-8, had much to think about during the informative conference sessions. Main themes that emerged included climate change, including the melting of permafrost in the North; ideas to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels such as solar and wind energy; and infrastructure development for deep-sea ports, seasonal routes, fibre optic lines, wind farms, mines, sewage treatment technologies, and healthy housing.

Finding alternatives to sustain communities in response to extreme weather changes is a challenge for all Arctic countries. Learning from each other can only help the Devolution process as Northerners seek to manage their own land and water resources for the good of all Nunangat and Canada as a whole.

The sharing of ideas that can help develop the Northern economy include:

  • Encouraging Northerners to consider the growing opportunities from increased traffic by cruise ships due to shipping corridors opening up as a result of thawing perma­-frost. Culinary Tourism and authentic and targeted cultural experiences can lure travellers to visit the North.
  • Forging new partnerships with other Arctic countries who have similar struggles and what success stories Canada can learn from them. For example, Igiugig Village in Alaska has successfully generated energy from the river without affecting their sustainable fish stock.
  • Partnering with countries such as China for the shrimp industry.
  • Developing energy efficient housing using wind and solar energy, such as those being tested in Nunatsiavut and the German-designed modular homes using innovative technology for sustainable and healthier housing in Nunavik.
  • Opening a new turbot fishery in Ungava Bay, as research shows there is turbot there.
  • Developing the Grays Bay Road and Port Project, which will be the first road from Nunavut to Canada and the only deep-water port on the Northwest Passage to connect to the national highway system.
  • Providing training for middle-class jobs in the wage economy to supplement the traditional way of life.

These ideas and more will help build a strong economy for Canada’s Arctic. Attracting investment is just the beginning of unlocking the true potential of Canada’s Arctic, which will also benefit all of Canada.