The president of Canada's national Inuit organization says Donald Trump's victory in the United States is bad news for Inuit and advances made for joint work on climate change in the Arctic.

"When somebody who is overtly racist is legitimized in a U.S. election it empowers those who hate," says Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.

"We just have to be more vigilant in ensuring that we're prepared for what is to come."

Obed says events like the recent U.S. election are warnings signs of why it's important to be vigilant against racism.

"The attitudes that are normalized in society are constantly in flux — what is normal today perhaps wasn't normal yesterday and may not be normal tomorrow," says Obed.

Natan Obed

'We're lucky to live in a country where we are in a time of reconciliation,' says Obed. (Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami)

He says the government of Canada's pledge to renew its relationship with Indigenous peoples is a sign that its is trying to move beyond "the racism and discrimination and disrespect that our people have faced over time."

"We're lucky to live in a country where we are in a time of reconciliation," says Obed.

But, Obed adds the U.S. election shows that Canadians can't afford to be complacent about Indigenous rights.

He says there's renewed urgency to implement measures that combat systemic racism such as the recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation report and the United Nations declaration on the rights of Indigenous peoples.

'Time of uncertainty'

The consequences of Trump's victory are not only felt south of the border but will have implications for Canada, says Obed.

Justin Trudeau and Barack Obama

Obed points to the joint statement on climate change issued by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Barack Obama last spring as an area of grave concern. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

Obed points to the Paris climate change agreement and the joint statement on climate change issued by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Barack Obama last spring as two areas of grave concern.

"We're entering into a time of uncertainty about the implementation of the Paris agreement about the implementation of our joint working relationship with the United States on the Arctic," says Obed.

Obed will be part of the official Canadian Delegation in the United Nations 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) in Marrakech, Morocco, next week. The meeting is bringing together Indigenous and environmental groups from across the globe to discuss action on climate change.

He says Inuit who live in the Arctic are the people most vulnerable to the immediate effects of climate change and most wary about the breakdown of climate talks.

He says last year's climate talks in Paris (COP21) were optimistic because they followed the election of Trudeau's Liberal government and their promise to reengage Canada in climate action. But this year he is not expecting an atmosphere of hope.

"I think the optimism and the attitude of what is possible in relation to climate leadership, especially the implementation of the Paris agreement will be of concern by all those who are attending the meetings."