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Canada's Northern Strategy

Achievements under Canada's Northern Strategy, 2007–2011

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Canada's Northern Strategy

The North is a fundamental part of our Canadian heritage, our national identity and is vital to our future. The Government of Canada introduced Canada's Northern Strategy in 2007 and in 2009 published Canada's Northern Strategy: Our North, Our Heritage, Our Future. The Strategy presents an overarching vision for the North and describes the Government's significant activities and signature investments in the North. The Northern Strategy is bolstered by a robust Arctic foreign policy, which guides Canada's international efforts for the region. The Government of Canada has worked closely with territorial and Aboriginal leaders, Northerners and partners in the circumpolar Arctic to ensure that the North achieves its full promise as a vibrant region within a strong and sovereign Canada.

Northerners and the Northern Strategy

Northerners are at the heart of the Northern Strategy. Every Canadian can take pride in the progress we continue to make on issues of importance for people living in the North and for the future of our country. Northerners, including Aboriginal peoples, First Nations, Métis and Inuit, have all made significant contributions to our understanding and appreciation of our shared history and continue to influence our way of life.

Promoting Social and Economic Development

The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that a strong and prosperous North helps shape the future of our nation. Since 2007, Canada has made significant investments to improve social and economic development in the North.

The Government of Canada provides an annual unconditional transfer to the territorial governments through Territorial Formula Financing, which enables territorial governments to fund programs and services such as hospitals, schools, infrastructure and social services. For 2011–2012, the three territories will receive $2.9 billion.

In order to unlock the resource potential in Canada's North without compromising environmental protections, in 2010 the Government introduced an Action Plan to improve northern regulatory regimes. This plan will streamline the regulatory process by removing barriers to private investment, enhancing environmental stewardship, and investing in programs to support economic growth and provide opportunities for Northerners. Economic opportunity can come hand in hand with preserving the cultural and environmental riches of the North.

CanNor, the economic development agency for the North was established in August 2009 to help ensure a stronger, more dynamic economy for Northern workers and businesses, by empowering Northern workers and business to benefit from the abundant resources and opportunities in the North. Since 2009, CanNor has invested $80.4 million in a range of significant economic initiatives to help strengthen and diversify the Northern economy and to create business and job opportunities for people living in Northern communities.

CanNor's Strategic Investments in Northern Economic Development (SINED) program focuses on strengthening the key sectors of the territorial economies, economic diversification and encouraging Northerners participation in the economy. Canada's Economic Action Plan renewed funding for this program at $90 million over five years. CanNor has also invested more than $23 million between 2009–2011 to support economic development for Aboriginal communities and businesses and entrepreneurs across the North.

The Government of Canada is also improving and increasing knowledge in northern geoscience, which will contribute to dynamic economic development in all three territories. This research provides important information to support the growth of the exploration and mining sectors, generating job and business opportunities for Northerners. In 2010, over $10.7 million was provided for a broad spectrum of geoscience programs in Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut through SINED. Canada's investment of $100 million (2008–2013) in the Geo-mapping for Energy and Minerals program will provide the knowledge necessary for private sector exploration companies to guide investment decisions, as well as to inform land-use decisions such as the creation of parks and other protected areas.

In order to gather new information vital to the future management of oil and gas activities in the Beaufort Sea, the Government of Canada is undertaking a multi-stakeholder initiative. The Beaufort Regional Environmental Assessment, announced in August 2010, is sponsoring regional environmental and socio-economic research in support of efficient and effective regulatory decisions and environmental assessments for oil and gas activity in the Beaufort Sea.

Northern infrastructure investments include $200 million for the renovation and construction of housing units, $40 million to establish a commercial fisheries harbour in Pangnirtung, Nunavut, and up to $71 million for improvements to the Mayo B hydroelectric facility in the Yukon. An investment of $1.6 million allowed for 19 recreational infrastructure projects across the three territories to improve community infrastructure, create short term jobs and support healthy communities. Budget 2011 provides for a federal contribution of $150 million toward the construction of an all-season road between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk that completes the Dempster Highway, connecting Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

The Government of Canada is working in partnership with Northerners, the territories and Aboriginal peoples to improve skills and employment outcomes in Canada's North. Through Labour Market Agreements and Labour Market Development Agreements, the territories receive over $11 million for skills and employment training programs. From 2010–2015, over $125 million will be invested in the territories through the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy. This funding supports programming designed to link training to labour market demand and to help ensure Aboriginal Northerners can fully participate in the growing Northern economy. Budget 2011 invested a further $9 million over two years to expand adult basic education programming to increase employment opportunities for Northerners.

The Government is also taking action in support of healthy and vital Northern communities. Budget 2010 provided $60 million to extend the Territorial Health System Sustainability Initiative to continue territorial health system reform and offset the high cost of medical transportation. On May 21, 2010, the Government of Canada announced that a new program, Nutrition North Canada, would replace the Food Mail Program effective April 1, 2011. The objective of the new market-driven program is to set the conditions for food providers to make nutritious, perishable foods accessible to Canadians living in isolated northern communities. The Government of Canada is providing $60 million per year to Nutrition North Canada. This includes $1.53 million (2010–2011) and $2.9 million (2011–2012) to deliver nutrition promotion and education initiatives for isolated northern communities eligible under the program. Other program improvements include creating the Nutrition North Canada Advisory Board, made up of local volunteers from affected communities, which held its first meeting in Iqaluit in May 2011. The board met with Northerners to receive feedback and ensure the program adapts as required to meet their needs.

Protecting Our Environmental Heritage

The Government of Canada is taking concrete action to protect and conserve the unique environment and wildlife of the Arctic. The Nahanni National Park Reserve was expanded to more than 30,000 square kilometres, ensuring protection of a vital and unique ecosystem and the Government has committed to establishing three new National Parks. A $5 million feasibility study is underway as part of the creation of a new national marine conservation area in Lancaster Sound. In 2010, the Tarium Niryutait Marine Protected Area was established to safeguard approximately 1,800 square kilometres of the Mackenzie River Delta and estuary in the Beaufort Sea.

Six new National Wildlife Areas will be created as part of the Northwest Territories Protected Areas Strategy. The Government's commitment to the Protected Areas Strategy, environmental monitoring, and land-use planning further serve to support the sustainable development of the North's natural resources while protecting its ecosystems.

The North is an environmentally sensitive area on the front line of climate change impacts and adaptation. Budget 2011 announced $8 million over two years for the ecoENERGY for Aboriginal and Northern Communities program, which will promote the deployment of clean energy technologies in Aboriginal and northern communities. It also announced $7.6 million over two years to fund the development of community-relevant information and tools for Aboriginal and northern communities to assess climate change vulnerabilities and to develop adaptation plans.

In 2007, under the Health of the Oceans Panel initiative, $60 million was invested over five years to protect Canadian waterways from shipping pollution. This initiative provided 19 remote communities with enhanced marine pollution control equipment in 2010, complementing the existing stockpile of pollution countermeasures equipment in the North. Concrete measures have been taken to improve shipping laws and regulations, including amendments to the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act to enforce Canada's stringent environmental laws and shipping regulations up to 200 nautical miles offshore.

Contaminated sites are an after-effect of past practices that can pollute soil, air and water, threaten human health and the environment and hinder economic development. The Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan is designed to systematically assess, remediate and monitor sites for which the Government is responsible including high priority sites such as Giant Mine and Faro Mine in Northern Canada. Building on work to date, Budget 2011 provides an additional $68 million over the next two years for program management and site assessments.

Improving and Devolving Northern Governance

Through land claim and self-government agreements, Aboriginal communities are developing made-in-the-North policies and strategies to address their unique challenges and opportunities. The Government of Canada will continue to work with all of its Northern partners to advance practical, innovative and efficient governance models.

The Government of Canada is committed to renewing and rebuilding its relationship with the Aboriginal peoples of Canada. In August of 2010, the Government issued an apology to Inuit families relocated to the High Arctic in the 1950s, paying tribute to their courage and perseverance in the face of suffering and hardship, and recognizing their contribution to a strong Canadian presence in the High Arctic.

In February 2011, the Government signed a historic agreement with the Teslin Tlingit Council, a self-governing First Nation in Yukon. The Teslin Tlingit Council Administration of Justice Agreement allows the First Nation to administer, enforce and adjudicate its laws in its traditional way. The negotiation of this agreement fulfils a commitment that is set out in the Teslin Tlingit Council Self-Government Agreements, which enables the First Nation to enact its own laws with respect to Administration of Justice.

The devolution of land and resource management is an important part of building the future of the North. In April 2003, Yukon became the first territory to take over land and resource management responsibilities, putting decision-making squarely in the hands of Yukon citizens.

In 2008, the Government of Canada, the Government of Nunavut and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated signed a protocol for future negotiations towards a devolution agreement.

One of the key priorities of our Government's Northern Strategy is to ensure a stronger, more dynamic economy for Northern families and businesses.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper

In early 2011, an Agreement-in-Principle for the transfer of land and resource management responsibilities to the Northwest Territories was signed. Preliminary discussions towards a final agreement have begun.

Exercising our Arctic Sovereignty

Canada's sovereignty over the air, lands and waters of the Canadian Arctic is longstanding, well established, and based on historic title. The Government of Canada is firmly asserting its presence in the North, ensuring that Canada has the capability and capacity to protect and patrol the land, sea and sky.

Year-round aerial, land and satellite surveillance enhances our Governments ability to react quickly in the event of a crisis. The Canadian Rangers patrol the North on a routine basis and the air force conducts regular missions in support of NORAD. Since 2007, RADARSAT-2 has captured images of the Arctic waterways, enhancing our ability to track ships navigating our icy waterways. Canada's Polar Epsilon project, which is scheduled to be fully operational in December 2011, will exploit RADARSAT-2 to contribute space-based surveillance capability for Canada's North. Maritime expertise and vessel identification and tracking systems, such as the Long Range Identification and Tracking System, also contribute to Arctic domain awareness and to the identification of potential threats in Canada's Northern waters and approaches.

Each year, the Canadian Forces engage in major sovereignty operations in Canada's North with the objective of improving the inter-departmental coordination of emergency response in the North. Operations Nanook, Nunakput and Nunalivut generally take place in the high, western and eastern Arctic areas respectively.

In August 2010, more than 900 Canadian Forces personnel, alongside members of several other government departments and partners from the US and Denmark, participated in Operation Nanook. The US and Danish militaries are scheduled to participate in Operation Nanook again in 2011.

In July 2010, Canada introduced new mandatory reporting requirements for foreign and domestic vessels of a certain size travelling through Canada's Arctic waters. Vessels are now required to submit reports prior to entering, while navigating within and upon exiting the Northern Canada Vessel Traffic Services (NORDREG) Zone. The new regulations make the previous voluntary traffic reporting system for the NORDREG Zone mandatory.

To facilitate the safe management of Arctic marine traffic, the Government of Canada is investing $35 million to provide strategic meteorological and navigational data in key Arctic zones. These measures will allow Canada to promote the safe navigation of vessels, to keep watch on vessels carrying fuel oil, dangerous goods, and potential pollutants, and to respond more effectively in the event of an accident.

Canada's North on the World Stage

The Government of Canada is playing a leadership role in Arctic issues, both at home and internationally. Launched in August 2010, Canada's Arctic foreign policy statement helps deliver on the international dimension of the Northern Strategy by providing the international platform from which to project Canada's national interests in the world.

The depth and complexity of the challenges and opportunities facing the circumpolar Arctic are significant, and many of them are best addressed by working with others. To further our national interests, Canada will continue to work with its Arctic neighbours through the Arctic Council, with Arctic Ocean coastal states on issues of particular relevance to the Arctic Ocean, and bilaterally with key Arctic partners, particularly the United States.

The Arctic Council is the leading forum for intergovernmental cooperation on Arctic issues. The unique structure of the Council brings together around a common agenda the eight Arctic states and the six Arctic Indigenous Permanent Participants-enhancing the strength and effectiveness of this unique multilateral forum.

The Government of Canada plays a leadership role in the Arctic Council and its six working groups. Canada was the first chair of the Arctic Council, from 1996 to 1998, and will be chairing the Council again starting in 2013. Canada is also active in the Arctic Council working groups and has taken a leading role on a number of initiatives. For example, Canada's contribution to the 2009 Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment provided important information about possible future shipping activities and their potential impacts. This work is informing ongoing efforts to develop an international Code of Safety for polar ships operating in ice-covered waters. Canada also played a key role in the development of an assessment of mercury in the Arctic. The assessment provides critical information on how mercury continues to present risks to Arctic human populations and wildlife.

In 2011, Canada and the other seven Arctic states signed an Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic. As the first-ever legally binding agreement developed under the auspices of the Arctic Council, it underscores the capacity of the Council to address emerging Arctic issues.

In the 2008 Ilulissat Declaration, Canada and the other four Arctic Ocean coastal states (Denmark, Norway, the Russian Federation, and the United States) affirmed their commitment to the existing legal framework for management of the Arctic Ocean. It is under this legal framework that the Government is pursuing international recognition of the full extent of Canada's continental shelf.

In 2010, the Minister of Foreign Affairs met with the Foreign Ministers of the other Arctic Ocean coastal states for a discussion among states with shared interests and responsibilities for the management of areas of the Arctic Ocean. The discussion focused on continental shelf delineation and potential public safety challenges, and led to the creation of the Arctic Regional Hydrographic Commission. The Commission will improve our understanding of the features of the Arctic Ocean and its coastal areas, essential knowledge for safe navigation.

Our Government is committed to ensuring that Northern economic development occurs in a way that directly involves those who live and work in the North.

John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Demonstrating Leadership in Arctic Science and Technology

Science and technology provide the knowledge necessary for sound policy and decision-making. Canada made one of the largest single contributions to International Polar Year 2007–2008 which provided the opportunity to undertake an intensive study of issues currently facing the Polar regions. Canada will host the International Polar Year closing conference, "From Knowledge to Action", in Montreal in April 2012.

In 2007, the Government of Canada affirmed the importance of Arctic science by committing to establish a new, world-class research station in the Arctic. Cambridge Bay, Nunavut was announced as the location in August 2010 and the Stations mandate was announced in December 2010. The Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS) will be a year-round, multi-disciplinary hub. Its mandate will be to explore cutting-edge Arctic science and technology issues, to anchor a strong research presence in Canada's Arctic that serves Canada and the world, and to advance Canada's knowledge of the Arctic in order to improve economic opportunities, environmental stewardship, and the quality of life of Northerners and all Canadians.

Work on CHARS has been progressing on several fronts, including the development of science and technology priorities, and the definition of infrastructure spaces and service needs. In 2009, Canada's Economic Action Plan (CEAP) provided $2 million to undertake a feasibility study, and in 2010 the Government committed $18 million to carry out pre-construction design work.

Our Government recognizes the importance of the North. Through Canada's Economic Action Plan and our Northern Strategy, we have taken significant steps towards helping this critical region flourish.

Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

The government affirmed its commitment to supporting science and technology across the North by providing $85 million from CEAP for the Arctic Research Infrastructure Fund. This investment funded upgrades to key research facilities at 46 sites across the North, which were completed by March 2011.

Arctic science and technology is also being employed to conserve Canada's northern heritage. Underwater technology is being deployed from the icebreaker CCGS Wilfrid Laurier to uncover evidence of the 19th century race to find the Northwest Passage. The summer 2011 expedition will build on expeditions in 2008 and 2010, continuing the search for polar explorer Sir John Franklin's lost ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, and exploring the HMS Investigator shipwreck located last summer, as well as archaeological studies of related land sites.

The role of science in supporting the activities of the Government of Canada in the North continues to grow. Mapping the Arctic Ocean floor is a key step in preparing Canada's submission to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, seeking international recognition for the full extent of Canada's continental shelf. A Government of Canada scientific research team is maximizing mapping efforts and identifying Arctic seabed resources. Scientific and technological innovations such as Autonomous Underwater Vehicles – designed and manufactured in Canada – have been deployed to collect water depth data that will help determine seabed shape in remote areas.

Canada's Vision for the Future

The Government of Canada has made the North a top priority, placing it higher on the agenda than it has been in many decades. This Government has a clear vision for the North as a healthy, prosperous region within a strong and sovereign Canada. By moving forward with Northern Strategy commitments and ensuring results are benefiting Northerners and all Canadians, the Government of Canada is making substantial progress across all four priority areas: exercising our Arctic sovereignty, protecting our environmental heritage, promoting social and economic development, and improving and devolving Northern governance.