April 2017: Seminar Report from Rethinking Perspectives on Arctic Issues in 2017: A Joint Seminar with the Master Mariners of Canada (Halifax)

Rethinking Perspectives on Arctic Issues in 2017: A Joint Seminar with the Master Mariners of Canada

Migrations and Mobilities Subproject

The first meeting of the Mobilities & Migrations Subproject was held on 20 April 2017 at Dalhousie University, Halifax, in collaboration with the Company of Master Mariners of Canada.

Claudio Aporta, Image c/o @DalMarAffairs

The full seminar report is available here: Qaqqaliaq, “Going to the Hilltop to Scan”

The purpose of the event was to gain a better understanding of the perspectives of Inuit and industry/regulators, so as to provide a platform upon which discussions could begin on topics of safety, preparedness and response, and community engagement in the Arctic. Through a series of presentations, the audience was introduced to the challenges facing the two groups, and through a panel discussion ideas for overcoming those challenges were explored. At the end of the day, four common features were identified and five key observations were made:

Common Features of the Inuit and Industry/Regulator Perspectives

  • The challenges of climate change;
  • The importance of prevention, planning and preparedness;
  • The importance of experience and the role of observations and awareness, and;
  • The potential role of collaborative training programs and two-way knowledge sharing.

Key Observations

  • Rethink indigenous interests and perspectives in the North through the light of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada;
  • Rethink equitable development and create paid opportunities for Inuit to be involved in the marine safety system and industry, rather than simply volunteer positions;
  • Improve awareness and understanding of the various marine-based activities in the Arctic and how they interact, and of language and the interpretation of terminology;
  • Place time frames on actions and provide progress reports to provide accountability and demonstrate that efforts are being made to act upon agreements and the outcomes of consultations;
  • Consider the Pikialasorsuaq Commission’s model of Inuit-led governance and management as a model for partnering with Inuit.

Conclusions

The seminar represented an important dialogue between key players of progressing improvements in safety, preparedness, and response, and engaging with Arctic communities on such topics. A strong message that emanates from this event is that it is not appropriate for the Government or industry to lead developments, engaging with Inuit as they deem necessary. Rather, the initiative needs to be based on a partnership, and such a partnership needs to be formalized so that roles are clearly defined and the partnership is built on mutual understanding and agreement.

Inuit have a lot to offer and are very open to negotiations and dialogue. We’re not steadfast to say ‘this is the only way this is going to happen’. We are known as nation builders. We are known as cooperative human beings and I think that is what we have to take away from today – Inuit and other Indigenous peoples are not second-class citizens.

For further information, please contact Leah Beveridge (leah.beveridge@dal.ca).