Commission recommends Inuit-controlled authority

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After consultations with citizens in communities connected with the Pikialasorsuaq, the Inuit Circumpolar Council’s Pikialasorsuaq Commission is calling for the creation of an Inuit-identified, Inuit-managed protected area in the ecologically and culturally significant area shared by Canada and Greenland in the High Arctic, as well as reinstatement of free movement for Inuit between historically connected communities in both countries.

Pikialasorsuaq is the West Greenlandic name for the North Water polynya — an area of historically open water teeming with marine life that depend on the upwelling of nutrients caused by ocean and wind currents in that location.

“People from the communities adjacent to Pikialasorsuaq want to be involved in the manage – ment and monitoring of this unique ecosystem. They recognize that the health of the species upon which they depend is connected to the health of the Pikialasorsuaq,” says Kuupik V. Kleist, the Greenlandic commissioner and former premier of Greenland.

“It will take all levels of governments to realize this most important step in Inuit selfdetermination and management of their lands and waters. The Commission and the ICC urge the governments of Canada, Greenland and Denmark to work with Inuit and create a positive future for the Pikialasorsuaq and its peoples,” says Eva Aariak, Canadian commissioner, and former premier of Nunavut.

Wildlife that rely on the North Water polynya include narwhals, belugas, Arctic char, little auks (alle alle), eiders, gulls, kittiwakes, seals, bearded seals, hooded seals and other mammals that polar bears depend on for food. Consultations took place with Canadian Inuit communities (Grise Fiord, Resolute, Arctic Bay, Pond Inlet and Clyde River) and in Northern Greenlandic communities (Siorapaluk, Qaanaaq, Savissivik, Kullorsuaq, Nuussuaq and Upernavik).