Inuit groups praise Arctic Council appointment

Inuit organizations are pleased the federal government has named Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq to head the international Arctic Council.
Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkak is about to become the chair of the Arctic Council.

 Leona Aglukkaq's appointment to chair the Arctic Council is being welcomed by many Inuit organizations. 

Aglukkaq, the federal health minister and M-P for Nunavut, will take on the role when Canada assumes leadership of the Arctic Council next year. Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the appointment during his Arctic tour at a stop in Cambridge Bay. 

The Arctic Council, which is currently led by Sweden, consists of eight Arctic states with six international organizations representing aboriginal peoples.

The Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, Duane Smith, said it's good Canada is being pro-active by selecting Aglukkaq. Smith said he hopes to start collaborating with Aglukkaq before she takes over the chair in January. 

Aglukkaq's appointment was also welcomed by other organizations including Inuit who are concerned about rapid development in their region. 

Nunavut Tunngavik President Cathy Towtongie said Canada needs to speak for Inuit on critical matters affecting the Arctic region now.

"A lot of other countries, foreign countries, like China and Korea are interested in gaining a seat a voting seat within the Arctic Council and she'll have to deliberate with the Inuit organizations within the circumpolar region on how to deal with that," she said. 

Towtongie says the possibility of year round shipping and oil and gas development should be a priority for Canada because of the potential impact on people and the environment.

 Aglukkaq will continue with her Ministerial duties while she's the chair.