Governments of Canada and Nunavut and Qikiqtani Inuit Association to explore protection of Canada’s High Arctic
Memorandum of Understanding on potential marine protected areas in the High Arctic Basin or Tuvaijuittuq
April 11, 2019 Iqaluit, Nunavut
Nature is an important part of our Canadian identity. That’s why the Government of Canada is doubling the amount of protected nature in Canada’s lands and oceans.
A recent report by Canadian scientists made it clear that the sea ice that has defined our far north or Inuit Nunangat is disappearing. By mid-century, it is expected that the last place with summer sea ice will be Canada’s High Arctic Basin, known as Tuvaijuittuq in Inuktitut (which means “the ice never melts”). Climate change, human pollution, increased development and exploration, as well as shipping, have contributed to unprecedented changes in the Arctic, which may have serious implications for marine biodiversity and Northern communities.
Today, the Government of Canada, the Government of Nunavut and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, announced that they will work together to explore the potential protection of areas in the High Arctic Basin or Tuvaijuittuq, while supporting the development of a conservation economy in the region.
All three partners have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, in which they agree to assess the feasibility of creating marine protected areas within Tuvaijuittuq, and which may include interim protection measures. This work will look at the social, environmental, and economic benefits of creating marine protected areas in this region, giving full consideration to the Nunavut Agreement and the Nunavut Act.
The Governments of Canada and Nunavut are working collaboratively with Inuit to protect land and marine areas in a way that recognizes the contributions of Inuit, their histories and cultures, as well as the special relationship Inuit have with the lands and waters.
Furthermore, to ensure that Arctic and northern communities can continue to grow and prosper, Budget 2019 announces more than $700 million over 10 years in new and focused funding for more diversified post-secondary educational options in the territories, enhanced infrastructure resources to connect northern and remote communities, increased economic development programming, and more support to enable critical Arctic research.
“The iconic natural landscapes of Canada are what define us and, if we don’t step up to protect them now, it may be too late. The Government of Canada is committed to doubling the amount of nature protected in Canada’s lands and oceans, from coast to coast to coast. We are pleased to be working with the Government of Nunavut and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association to expand Canada’s network of protected areas and protect biodiversity, while supporting economic benefits for Inuit and ensuring that traditional activities continue for generations to come.”
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
“This agreement is an important step towards conserving Tuvaijuittuq and is a concrete example of a key role that partnerships play in achieving meaningful marine conservation. Now more than ever, collaboration is essential, given the impacts of climate change and the increased access to our Arctic. I look forward to our continued work with the Qikiqtani Inuit Association and the Government of Nunavut as we carry on the important work of protecting and supporting the future of this unique area in Canada’s High Arctic.”
Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
“The Government of Nunavut is committed to working with the Government of Canada and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association to achieve the goals of Tuvaijuittuq, to benefit the territory and Nunavummiut. We look to increased engagement with our partners to ensure we create lasting impact and positive results in the region.”
Premier of Nunavut and Minister of Environment
“The partnership that has been struck between the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, the Government of Nunavut and the Government of Canada will advance the protection of Tuvaijuittuq, and will not only explore the possible preservation of a pristine marine ecosystem for generations to come but also the creation of tangible benefits for Inuit who live in communities such as Grise Fiord in the High Arctic – benefits like conservation related jobs, Inuit led research initiatives, marine infrastructure, and economic opportunities in sustainable industries such as fisheries.”
President of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association
- Budget 2019 announced the Government of Canada’s commitment to exploring the potential creation of marine protected areas in the High Arctic Basin or Tuvaijuittuq – the last portion of the Canada’s High Arctic region expected to retain summer sea ice until at least 2050.
- In the northernmost part of Canada’s High Arctic region, Tuvaijuittuq is unique due to the presence of year-round pack ice that provides important habitat to ice-dependent and culturally significant species on which Inuit communities depend, such as polar bears, walruses, and seals.
- Through Budget 2017, the Government of Canada committed $11 million over four years to explore feasability of marine protection of Canada’s High Arctic in consultation with Indigenous and Northern partners.
- In August 2017, the Governments of Canada and Nunavut and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association announced the boundaries and interim protection of Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area, which once established, will be the largest protected area in Canada.
- On October 30, 2018, the Government of Canada and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association reached an Agreement in Principle for the negotiations of an Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement for Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area, which included the consideration of options to pursue the creation of marine protected areas in Tuvaijuittuq.
- The Government of Canada has designated several marine protected areas in the Inuit Nunangat, including Anguniaqvia niqiqyuam and Tarium Niryutait Marine Protected Areas in the Northwest Territories, and Ninginganiq, Akpait, Qaqulluit, and Nirjutiqavvik National Wildlife Areas in Nunavut. These areas protect a variety of fish, seabird and marine mammal species, including important concentrations of beluga and bowhead whales.
Government of Canada
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Parks Canada Agency
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and
the Canadian Coast Guard
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Qikiqtani Inuit Association
Sima Sahar Zerehi
Director of Communications
Qikiqtani Inuit Association
867-975-8413 or 1-800-667-2742
Government of Nunavut
Manager, Communications, Education and Outreach