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

Related news

The Arctic Council celebrates 25 years of Arctic cooperation

The world’s leading international forum for Arctic cooperation reflects on the unique collaboration among Arctic States and Arctic Indigenous Peoples, and looks forward t...
16 Sep 2021

Time witness reports: An Interview with Robert Kadas, Senior Advisor for Global Affairs Canada

Robert Kadas has been a part of the Arctic Council from its earliest days. Working in the Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs with a focus on western and northern C...
23 Aug 2021

Introducing the new EPPR Chair: “Emergencies do not recognize boundaries on a map”

Kathy Nghiem is the new Chair of the Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response (EPPR) Working Group. She brings with her a diverse background and a love of people –...
15 Jul 2021
See all