Quick Facts

Arctic and North Territory
Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Yukon, and Northern parts of numerous provinces, including Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Québec

Arctic and Northern Population
Approximately 150,000

Permanent Participants with Canadian constituents
Arctic Athabaskan Council, Inuit Circumpolar Council, and Gwich’in Council International

Canada and the Arctic region

Nearly 40 percent of Canada’s land mass is considered Arctic and Northern, consisting of the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Yukon, and the northern parts of several provinces. Canada’s Arctic is home to approximately 150,000 inhabitants, of which more than half are Indigenous. Although Canada’s Arctic region is vast, less than one percent of Canada’s population lives there.

Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous Permanent Participants who live in Canada include the Athabaskan, Inuit and Gwich’in. The Athabaskan and Gwich’in peoples in Canada live primarily in the Northwest Territories and Yukon. Inuit in Canada live in 53 communities across Inuit Nunangat – the northern regions of Canada. Canadian Arctic Indigenous peoples are represented in the Arctic Council through three Permanent Participants organizations: Arctic Athabaskan Council, Inuit Circumpolar Council and Gwich’in Council International.

Canada in the Arctic Council

Canada held the first Chair of the Arctic Council from 1996 to 1998, and again from 2013-2015. Canada’s primary priorities related to the Arctic include addressing socio-economic and cultural development, environmental protection and climate change, and strengthening relations with Indigenous peoples. Specifically, during its first Arctic Council Chairmanship, Canada’s priorities included:

  • Youth development in the Arctic, including social, environmental and economic issues affecting children
  • Developing closer partnerships with Indigenous peoples and Arctic States to address common challenges and opportunities
  • Cooperation between Indigenous Peoples and Arctic States

Throughout its most recent Arctic Council Chairmanship, Canada’s priorities included:

  • Development for the people of the North
  • Mental wellness in Arctic communities
  • Integrating Indigenous knowledge of Arctic peoples into the work of the Council
  • Environmental protection, including the reduction of black carbon and methane

Key accomplishments include:

  • Canada aided in the establishment of the Arctic Economic Council, an independent forum for business-to-business cooperation
  • Canada heavily aided in the development of an action plan to prevent oil pollution in the Arctic
  • An Arctic Council Framework for enhanced black carbon and methane emissions reductions
  • Assisted in the establishment of the open-access archive project to enhance the public’s accessibility to the Arctic Council’s work

The Arctic Council was established in Canada in 1996 with the signing of the Ottawa Declaration.

David Sproule
David Sproule
Senior Arctic Official; Director General, Government of Canada

125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Canada K1A 0G2

Contact for press inquiries
Media Relations Office of Canada
+ 1 613 995 1874
media@international.gc.ca

Learn more

Government of Canada

Territorial Governments

Provincial Governments (that engage with Canada on the Arctic Council)

Featured projects

Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter

The Regional Action Plan will address both sea and land-based activities, focusing on Arctic-specific marine litter sources and pathways that will play an important role in demonstrating Arctic States...

Underwater noise in the Arctic

PAME's State of Knowledge Review on Underwater Noise in the Arctic report provides a baseline understanding of underwater noise in Arctic regions, including ambient sound levels, underwater noise...

Marine Biodiversity Monitoring

Arctic marine environments are experiencing, or expected to experience, many human-induced and natural pressures.
Red Knots. Photo: Morten Ekker

Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative (AMBI)

The Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative (AMBI) is a project designed to improve the status and secure the long-term sustainability of declining Arctic breeding migratory bird populations.
iStock

Arctic Shipping Best Practice Information Forum

The Arctic Shipping Best Practice Information Forum facilitates an exchange of information and best practices on shipping topics like hydrography, search and rescue logistics, industry guidelines and ...

Arctic Children: Preschool and School Education

The nomadic school project is aimed at the analysis and evaluation of educational practices without interrupting the traditional way of life of Indigenous peoples – children of nomads, providing them ...
Arctic Council logo

Circumpolar Local Environmental Observer Network (CLEO)

Our world is changing rapidly, and local observers can detect subtle changes in weather, landscapes and seascapes, and in plant and animal communities.
Photo: Hjalti Hreinsson

Gender Equality in the Arctic

GEA is an international collaborative project focusing on gender equality in the Arctic, beginning in 2013. Phase 3 of the project began in 2019.
Photo: iStock / RyersonClark

One Health

A theoretical concept and practical approach for developing and sustaining broad interdisciplinary collaboration – to identify, prevent, and mitigate health risks in humans, animals and the environmen...

Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks (SAON)

SAON's vision is a connected, collaborative, and comprehensive long-term pan-Arctic Observing System that serves societal needs. SAON's mission is to facilitate, coordinate, and advocate for...
Ship in the Arctic. Photo: iStock / Alexey_Seafarer

Arctic Marine Tourism: Development in the Arctic and enabling real change

The Arctic Marine Tourism Project (AMTP) analyzes and promotes sustainable tourism across the circumpolar Arctic.
Cod drying. Photo: iStock

Blue Bioeconomy in the Arctic Region

The sustainable and intelligent use of renewable aquatic natural resources, with a focus on improving utilization and creating higher-value products.

Indigenous Youth, Food Knowledge and Arctic Change (EALLU) II

This project aims to maintain and further develop a sustainable and resilient reindeer husbandry in the Arctic in face of climate change and globalisation, working towards a vision of creating a bette...
iStock / zanskar

Contaminant issues: POPs and mercury

AMAP is assessing the effects of contaminants in the Arctic.
Drone Photography by: Sara Wilde

Project CREATeS

Youth were invited to engage in a dialogue about suicide prevention by telling their own stories, and were supported to make these stories into digital stories, or short films.
iStock

Good Practices for impact assessments and engagement

The Good Practices for Environmental Impact Assessment and Meaningful Engagement in the Arctic (Arctic EIA) provides Arctic-specific recommendations for large-scale projects in the vulnerable and chan...

Arctic Sustainable Energy Futures Toolkit

The project created a comprehensive long-­term energy planning process for socially-­desirable and economically-­feasible energy solutions for communities in the Arctic by developing an Arctic Sustain...

Prevention, Preparedness and Response for small communities

EPPR has been working with small communities to improve their safety in case of an oil spill event.

Arctic Remote Energy Networks Academy (ARENA)

ARENA seeks to increase human capacity, promote leadership, and deploy traditional and local knowledge through the creation of a knowledge exchange program emphasizing the development, operation, and ...
Plastic litter on an Arctic coast. Photo: iStock/sodar99

Arctic Marine Microplastics and Litter

AMAP is developing a monitoring plan for microplastics and litter in Arctic waters.

Solid Waste Management in Small Arctic Communities

Best practices for managing waste.
Water sampling in the Arctic. Photo: Steve Hillebrand/CAFF

Freshwater Biodiversity Monitoring

Changes in water temperature, permafrost, ice cover extent and duration, hydrological processes and water balance can have unexpected and unpredictable effects on freshwater biodiversity and related e...

Local 2 Global: Circumpolar collaboration for suicide prevention and mental wellness

Local 2 Global aims to facilitate international collaboration and connections between circumpolar communities working to prevent suicide and support the mental wellbeing of all Arctic youth and commun...

Related news

Women of the Arctic Council: Interview with Devlin Fernandes, Executive Director of Gwich’in Council International

In honor of International Women’s Day on 8 March, we spoke with some of the women who work with the Arctic Council to learn more about them, what it means to be a woman i...
10 Mar 2021

Women of the Arctic Council: Interview with Cathy Coon, at the intersection of marine science and policy making

In honor of International Women’s Day on 8 March, we spoke with some of the women who work with the Arctic Council to learn more about them, what it means to be a woman i...
09 Mar 2021

Women of the Arctic Council: Interview with Kathy Nghiem, Vice-Chair of EPPR

In honor of International Women’s Day on 8 March, we spoke with some of the women who work with the Arctic Council to learn more about them, what it means to be a woman i...
05 Mar 2021
See all