Luckily for Canada, the Inuit are always here. Without the Inuit, could we really claim to be masters of the Arctic house? Probably not. Ultimately, the Arctic sovereignty issue will depend on people, not ports or training facilities or military exercises. If Canada is to secure a long-standing and unimpeachable claim to the Arctic, it must be grounded in the daily realities of the Inuit and other Canadians who make this region their home. Why does Canada seem to forget that we are there each time a crisis looms?
Canada’s mistreatment of the Inuit in using them as human flagpoles to assert sovereignty was laid out with excruciating honesty during hearings convened by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples in the early 1990s. A settlement was finally achieved and a semi-apology delivered. How ironic now for Canada to brandish the fact that Canadian citizens — Inuit — live in the Arctic in order to add legitimacy to its sovereignty claims.
And the proposal:
Surely some lessons have been learned. The time has come to listen to Arctic voices on the subject of integrating the region with mainstream Canada. Would not a better strategy be to make this bountiful and magnificent region a part of Canada’s daily experience? The millions spent on political posturing, tours and studies that go nowhere, and press releases could be better spent on lasting, community-oriented infrastructure. Inuit are well-organized politically — regionally, nationally, and on the international level. Together, we have developed an Inuit Action Plan, which was submitted to the federal government in February. We are in the post-land-claims era now, and this plan is a testament to that. It identifies the tangible, bricks-and-mortar projects that need doing, as well as the intangible but no less vital elements of our future: hope for our children, better relationships with the rest of Canada, etc.
I haven't seen the Inuit Action Plan, so am not sure what the details are for integrating the North with the rest of Canada, but it sounds interesting. Will seek it out.