The Arctic harbours one of the world’s least disturbed marine ecosystems, plays a crucial role in moderating the planet’s climate, and is home to spectacular wildlife, fish, and marine mammal populations. Its biological riches provide physical and spiritual sustenance for indigenous peoples who have vibrant communities in the north.
The region and its people now face enormous challenges. Climate change is melting polar ice that contributes to climate stability, regulates ocean currents, and is the foundation of the Arctic’s biological richness. The warming ocean is altering the Arctic marine ecosystem in ways never before witnessed by humans. At the same time, the disappearance of ice is beginning to provide unprecedented access for industrial development.
The Arctic is vitally important to Canada, making up 68 percent of its coastline and playing a central role in its identity as a northern country. Canada’s north stretches 165,000 kilometres (102,500 miles) from Baffin Island in the east, across the high Arctic archipelago to the MacKenzie River delta and the Yukon in the west.
The Arctic is ever-present in Canadian culture. Every student sings about “the true north strong and free” in the national anthem, learns about the creation of Nunavut in 1999 and studies famous Arctic explorers such as Alexander Mackenzie and Sir John Franklin. Canadians read the work of poets and writers who weave the north into the fabric of their writing, such as Robert Service, Margaret Atwood, John Ralston Saul, and Robertson Davies.
Nunavut Quest 2010 Finish Line
Likewise, Canada is important to the Arctic. Inuit and government leaders from Canada have played pivotal roles in establishing international cooperation in the Arctic Council, negotiating a global treaty on contaminants, and alerting the world to the effects of climate change.
As we face the challenges ahead of us, Canada and its people will play an influential role in building northern solutions and providing northern voices for sustaining life in the Arctic.
To this end, Pew’s Arctic-Canada project promotes science- and community-based conservation of Canada’s northern seas and the resulting well-being of indigenous residents who rely upon their natural wealth.
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No nation on Earth has ever commercially fished in the high seas of the Arctic Ocean for one simple reason: Throughout human history, those waters have been covered with ice. This week before the annual Arctic Circle gathering in Reykjavík, Iceland, scientists from nine countries reminded the world of a letter—signed by more than 2,000 scientists from 67 countries in... Read More
In a major win for marine life and Indigenous peoples, the Canadian government announced Aug. 14 that the richest marine habitat in the Arctic Ocean—off the northern tip of Baffin Island—would soon be protected and that the boundaries would be twice as large as originally planned. Read More