Nicolien van Luijk, Jackie Dawson, Natalie Carter, Gloria Song, Colleen Parker, Kayla Grey & Jennifer Provencher

Discussions of Arctic sovereignty and security have traditionally centered on the interests of the state and how it impacts the nation. More recently, scholars have noted the importance of addressing the interests of other actors, in particular, Indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples in the Arctic have long advocated for conceptualizing Arctic sovereignty as Indigenous sovereignty. While development in Arctic Canada has been relatively limited compared to southern Canada due to infrastructure, climate, and logistical challenges, this is all set to shift dramatically, with Inuit communities in the Canadian Arctic arguably weathering the brunt of climate change risks and experiencing everything else that comes with it. An Indigenous-centered conception of Arctic sovereignty and security requires an understanding of how Inuit communities are experiencing the front lines of these changes. Thus, this paper offers a valuable contribution to Arctic sovereignty and security discourse by presenting the concerns expressed directly by members of 14 communities located in three regions of Inuit Nunangat (Inuit homeland). Our findings show that Inuit communities have concerns about many unknowns associated with the changing climate and increased shipping, including implications of increased international interest in the Canadian Arctic, which could pose threats to the ability of Inuit to protect their sovereignty and the environment they live in. Given the potential for change in the Arctic climate to make Arctic shipping a more attractive and realistic option in the future, we argue that these concerns should be considered integral to climate change discussions and decisions in the Canadian Arctic, as well as in general discussions of Arctic sovereignty and security.

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