Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, for the opportunity to address the committee this morning regarding northern development, using the framework of Canada’s Northern Strategy. I will focus on domestic issues and conclude with some brief remarks about our department's role with respect to the Arctic Council.
The northern strategy, as you know, is a whole-of-government effort. It's led by the , and it's advanced by numerous federal departments and agencies. As I speak, I'll refer to examples from many departments today.
The northern strategy is structured around four mutually supporting pillars, shown on the first page of the handout you have before you. It has both domestic and international dimensions and is supported by science and technology. Together these four pillars provide a comprehensive framework for development of Canada's north, to the benefit of northerners and all Canadians.
Under the social and economic development pillar, the aim is to unlock northern economic potential and to work with northerners to build vibrant and healthy northern communities. Canada's north has tremendous resource potential. For example, about 13% of the world's undiscovered oil and 30% of undiscovered gas lie under the Arctic seabed. Fifteen years ago Canada was not a diamond producer, and now we're a global leader. That gives you a sense of the scale of opportunity and how quickly, with the right circumstances, fortunes can change.
To unlock these opportunities, the government has invested in a number of initiatives, including the geomapping for the energy and minerals program at Natural Resources Canada. This supports the development of geoscience maps of Canada's north to help prospectors find energy and minerals.
The government is also committed to streamlining the regulatory process and to having northern regulatory regimes that are more effective and predictable, while safeguarding the environmental health and heritage of the region and providing meaningful aboriginal consultation so we can get northern resource projects up and running.
Skills training is key to ensuring that northerners benefit from these opportunities. There are a number of federal programs that address this issue, including a suite of labour market skills initiatives at Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.
Under the Arctic Sovereignty pillar, the strategy calls for strengthening Canada’s arctic presence, advancing our knowledge of the arctic domain, and enhancing our stewardship of the region. For example, the new polar-class icebreaker and arctic offshore patrol ships will increase Canada’s capacity to monitor and respond to arctic shipping incidents.
The Environment pillar highlights the importance of protecting fragile arctic ecosystems. Canada is taking a comprehensive approach to the protection of environmentally sensitive lands and waters, through initiatives such as the accelerated clean-up of federal contaminated sites, and the establishment of protected areas.
To address community impacts, programming was launched in 2011 to help Canadians, including northerners, adapt to climate change, and to promote the deployment of clean energy technologies in aboriginal and northern communities.
Under the governance pillar, the government is committed to providing northerners with more control over their economic and political future. This includes advancing the devolution or transfer of land and resource management from the federal level to territorial governments.
This devolution process involves negotiating with territorial governments and aboriginal groups, and it's proceeding across the north at a different pace in each territory. Negotiations toward a final devolution agreement in the Northwest Territories are currently far advanced. An agreement in principle for devolution was signed in 2011, and negotiations toward a final agreement are nearing a successful conclusion.
I'd also like to highlight the foundational role of Arctic science. Complementary to the ongoing programs of several science-based departments, I'd like to especially highlight two new initiatives led by my minister. Firstly, the Canadian High Arctic Research Station will be a year-round facility, in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. It will advance Canada's knowledge of the Arctic in order to improve economic opportunities, environmental stewardship, and the quality of life for northerners and all Canadians.
Second, the Beaufort regional environmental assessment is a four-year partnership that involves federal and territorial governments, Inuvialuit communities, academia, and industry. It was established to develop a knowledge base of scientific and socio-economic information in advance of oil and gas development so as to inform the decision-makers of the region, that is, government, private sector, and citizens.
Both of these initiatives demonstrate that Canada's leadership in Arctic science today will ensure we have the knowledge necessary for sound policy and decision-making in the future.
Finally, I'd like to talk a little about Canada's forthcoming chairmanship of the Arctic Council, which will continue this focus of northern development with the overarching theme of development for the people of the north. Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development has a long history of providing leadership and expertise to the Arctic Council working groups and task forces that produce assessments and develop new instruments for Arctic cooperation.
Our department is the government lead for Arctic Council work in a number of areas, particularly, creating an enabling environment for sustainable oil and gas development in the north, Arctic human development matters, and supporting and advancing aboriginal perspectives of the Arctic Council.
We look forward to continuing to provide significant support when Canada is chair of the council.
Thank you for your time.
Good morning, everyone.
Thank you for the invitation to address the committee on the role the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, or CanNor, as we're generally known, plays in promoting economic development in our north, both domestically and abroad.
Canada is recognized as being blessed with an abundance of natural resources. Nowhere is this defining characteristic more true than in our north. With nearly 40% of our country's land mass, and a coastline that is twice as long as the Atlantic and Pacific coasts combined, Canada's Arctic is a vast and diverse region. This unique environment shapes the cultural, social, and economic well-being of northerners.
As the regional economic development agency for the north, CanNor plays an integral role in advancing the social and economic development pillar of the northern strategy.
In Canada’s north, natural resources are the primary large scale driver for economic development and employment. The scale of resource development in this region is reaching unprecedented levels. World demand and commodity prices have brought global attention to the north’s rich supply of minerals, metals, oil and gas. Emerging markets around the world provide Canada with an opportunity to responsibly develop our natural resources for the benefit of all Canadians.
This interest is also leading to an increase in the number of projects being brought forward for approval. Over the last decade, 10 projects went through environmental assessment—about one a year. At this time, 21 major resource and regional infrastructure projects are in the regulatory process across the three territories, eight are set to potentially enter the environmental assessment phase in the coming 18 months.
Once in production, the 29 projects represent over $23 billion in capital investment, and approximately 10,000 short-term construction jobs and 9,500 long-term operating jobs. With over 150 companies undertaking active exploration across the territories, the number of projects could continue to increase rapidly.
CanNor is proud to count itself among those working toward a strong and dynamic northern economy and to help position the three territories and their peoples to capitalize on this potential.
CanNor has three principal business lines that help drive economic development in the north: one, our northern projects management office; two, contribution programs; and three, conducting research and developing policy to support northern economic development. All these areas are interrelated and must work as a whole for CanNor to achieve its objectives.
First, CanNor is home to the northern projects management office, or NPMO. NPMO acts as a pathfinder, adviser, and problem solver for industry and northern aboriginal communities. We work in partnership with other federal departments, the territorial governments, the project proponents, aboriginal organizations, and other stakeholders to resolve issues so that the regulatory review process is efficient and timely, while at the same time, taking the necessary steps to position Canada's north as a world-class destination for responsible resource development.
The Agency has a suite of programs that provide funding to support the development of key economic sectors including mining, tourism, fisheries, cultural industries, and community and business development. A key program is Strategic Investments in Northern Economic Development, which focuses on strengthening these key sectors, promoting economic diversification, and encouraging northerners’ participation in the economy.
The success of these economic sectors depends on a labour force with the right skills and training. Improving the quality and effectiveness of skills development and training is critical. In February 2012, the Northern Adult Basic Education Program was launched to help northerners develop the skills needed to enter the labour market or take further vocational training. These programs, along with our Aboriginal Economic Development programs and others, are intended to develop capacity in the northern economy, so that businesses, communities and people can prosper.
Finally, CanNor serves as the federal voice for the north. By building an understanding of the north through our work with our partners and through our policy and research efforts, we promote northern interests both within and outside the federal government—in Ottawa, in the north, and now, to an increasing extent, internationally.
We realize that the economic future of our north, specifically in terms of resource development, is very much a function of actions and activities around the world. The resources of the north serve global markets. Many of the companies advancing these projects are headquartered outside Canada in countries such as the United States, Luxembourg, China, Australia, and Switzerland.
Many of the funds that feed projects and exploration are coming from global capital markets. For these reasons, we believe it is important to position our north as a world-class destination for resource development. As we say, it's a very competitive planet and we need to promote our northern advantage.
We have world-class geology and immense size to go with it. We have a regulatory process that already features one environmental assessment and is being streamlined. We have positive aboriginal relations, many settled land claims, and a readiness to move forward.
We also have federal government commitment and strong partnerships across federal departments with territorial governments as well as with industry and aboriginal communities. Working with our colleagues in the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, we are honing this message and taking it around the world.
This working relationship will further be strengthened by the fact that yesterday, our president, Mr. Patrick Borbey, was named as the chair of the Arctic Council's senior Arctic officials. His northern knowledge and experience will serve Canada well during its chair, particularly given the overall theme of development for the people of the north. All of CanNor looks forward to contributing to this theme in the next two years.
We truly believe that this is the time for Canada's north and for its peoples. We believe that success will be a product of both domestic and international efforts. We are a small and relatively new organization, but one that is prepared to do what is needed to seize this opportunity.
Thank you again.
You bet, and thanks for the opportunity to present.
There are three parts to the presentation that I want to provide today. One is just putting some context around the north and Canada's northern or Arctic foreign policy. Second, I want to identify two particular areas that I think would be worthwhile for the Canadian government to focus on. The last part is to look at a couple of challenges I think Canada confronts around building knowledge and support around Canada's Arctic foreign policy.
First, and I'm stealing a bit from the title of a book that I thought was a very thoughtful one by Laurence C. Smith, The World in 2050, and looking at northern futures in a circumpolar context, of course Canada is one of the major players, the second largest after Russia. There are four areas that are going to frame and shape the future of the north, particularly international relations in the north.
One, of course, is globalization and the increased interaction globally and interest in the north, but also among the Arctic partners themselves. Really over the last 25 years it has accelerated in the circumpolar north.
The second, of course, is natural resources and the demand for natural resources, which are abundant in the circumpolar region. It's no secret to anyone here that this demand is only going to increase, driven by a third factor, which of course is demographic changes. The demographic change in areas such as India, China, and Brazil, and so on, in those humming economies, is going to put further pressure on resource demand, not only as their economies grow but actually as their populations grow as well.
Climate change is also a very important factor, and everyone knows potentially for transportation, shipping...though less likely a factor for Canada, but destination shipping certainly will be.
The last, the fifth, would be in the area of governance, particularly around devolution, the increasing illegal regime in the north, and around aboriginal rights and the empowerment of aboriginal peoples, not only in Canada but in other circumpolar countries.
Those factors are going to play a significant role in the nature and context of circumpolar relations and how we should look at Canadian Arctic foreign policy and northern policy. I'm sure the committee has heard many things in repeating patterns on what Canada ought to do, but I want to bring in two in particular that may have less attention than what conventionally gets brought forward. One is the need to bring in the provincial north, and the second is to establish greater leadership and capacity building.
On the first one, the provincial north, one of the challenges that comes up in Arctic Council, comes up in other circumpolar Arctic foreign policy discussions, is that the provincial north is almost always excluded or not included in considerations of Canada's northern or Arctic policy, and really I think that's to the detriment of Canada. It's certainly detrimental to northerners. If you look at the provincial north, we're looking at about 1.5 million people, whether they are in northern British Columbia, northern Ontario, northern Quebec, Labrador. That region contains most of Canada's natural resource wealth. Linking that with the territorial north, I think, is critically important as we move forward in the 21st century in defining Canada's northern foreign policy.
There is a natural community of interest between residents of the provincial and territorial north, everything from the climate to the bio-environment, the economies, and demographics. Just to point out one example, northern Saskatchewan, the northern administrative district, which is roughly half the territory of the province of Saskatchewan, has a higher aboriginal population as a percentage than does the territory of Nunavut.
The second area is in terms of leadership and capacity building.
It is probably well known to members of the committee that Canada is the only country of the Arctic eight that doesn't have a university in its Arctic region, so that focus on education is important. There's been a greater focus on research, but I think it's important to bring in the circumpolar and, as a dimension of our foreign policy, build those education and research linkages.
But I wouldn't stop there in terms of establishing leadership and capacity building. It's more than training and research or education and research. It also means we are building stronger businesses, business linkages, economic linkages, and government linkages, particularly municipal, first nations, Métis, and Inuit organizations and governments, and obviously territorial and provincial north government organizations.
Where there's been success, especially in the Barents region, in terms of building economic and governance capacity, there's been considerable effort placed by those governments, as part of their foreign policies, on business-government linkages and building capacity in the north.
One other area that's worthy of consideration is military investment and greater military investment in our Canadian north. If you look in comparison to other regions, such as Alaska, northern Norway, northern Sweden, the investments in military facilities, for instance, have had very important civilian spinoffs, in everything from telecommunications to research capacity and so forth. The University of Alaska Fairbanks would not be the world-class research institution in geophysics, environmental research, and so on were it not for the investments around the U.S. military. I think that's really important to state.
In northern Norway, for example, not only is there northern air command, but the national air command is based in Bodø, Norway. Again, that creates a hub of activity and resources that help northern regions in terms of economic opportunities, capacity building, communications and so forth.
A final dimension that I want to bring to the presentation is about the challenges for building Canadian support around our northern policy and interest in engagement. The reality is that Canada, for the most part, is a southern country in terms of its population, though certainly not in terms of its geographic land mass. Most of the population, as is well known, lives within a couple hundred kilometres of the United States border.
There are two other demographic changes that I think present a challenge for Canada. Number one is the number of intergenerational urban Canadians. If we look at 30 years ago, most Canadians either came from a rural area or had relatives living in a rural area. The natural connection to northern, rural, and aboriginal issues was certainly much stronger then. What we've had over the last 30 years is a shift. You have intergenerational urban Canadians, and there aren't the natural linkages to the rural areas, or to the north or aboriginal issues. I think that plays heavily, to our detriment, in terms of the connection to the importance of Canada's northern foreign policy.
The second demographic change is new Canadians. New Canadians are critically important to the past, present, and future of Canada. Culturally, economically, and so forth, new Canadians bring a vitality to the country. Most new Canadians settle in urban areas. Half of those people in Canada's largest city were not born in Canada. Just as with intergenerational urban Canadians, there isn't a natural connection to rural Canada, northern Canada, or aboriginal Canada.
In terms of garnering greater support and interest—because it's in Canada's interest to be engaged in our northern foreign policy—I think those two demographics need to be addressed in a systematic way. If we add that to the emphasis on leadership and capacity building in the fullest dimension, as well as a very concerted and explicit effort to include the provincial north in Canada's foreign policy, I think those would be worthwhile considerations as Canada moves forward.
Thank you, Chair. Bonjour
, everyone. Thank you for the invitation and opportunity to speak today. I really appreciate it.
I want to apologize for not speaking French today.
I first went to the Arctic in 1994 on an expedition to the top of Ellesmere Island. Little did I know at the time that this first Arctic journey would be one of the turns in my life's path and an experience that would go on to define my career and, really, my life in many ways. Soon after it led me to the Antarctic. Someone figured that, since I'd been to the Arctic, I must know something about the Antarctic, so I agreed with them. In reality I barely knew the difference between a polar bear and a penguin, but away I went.
In the two decades since, I've had the great fortune to lead over 80 expeditions to the Antarctic and 40-odd expeditions and projects throughout the circumpolar Arctic. I've sailed through the Northwest Passage three times, stood on the tops of remote mountains and glaciers, and looked into the eyes of polar bears and bowhead whales. I've listened to and learned from Inuit elders, participated in scientific research, and witnessed firsthand the impacts of climate change, including being stuck up to my knees in melting permafrost. I've walked into the depths of one of the first mining operations in the Canadian Arctic and I've had very emotional conversations with Inuit youth about why suicide should not be considered an option. From the pure awe and wonder of the land to the traditional knowledge and remarkable resiliency of the Inuit, the Arctic has cast a spell on me like it has on so many others.
My Inuktitut name is Pitsiulak, which was given to me by Ann Hanson, the commissioner of Nunavut at the time. A pitsiulak is a black guillemot, a small Arctic bird with bright red feet. It's also in the name of Peter Pitsiulak who was a great educator and artist from Cape Dorset. The school in Cape Dorset is named after Peter. That name has come to mean a lot of things to me but is mostly a reinforcement of my connection to our north and its people.
I've come to appreciate and understand how the polar regions truly are the cornerstones of our global ecosystem and how everything is interconnected in between. Like the battery in your car, if the two poles are not connected, your car doesn't start. The polar regions of our planet are critical to the way the oceans circulate, the stability of our climate, and, really, to life on earth as we know it and enjoy it. In this way and many others, the Arctic and the Antarctic are windows to our world. They're remarkable symbols of peace and understanding and of collaboration and conservation.
I would be remiss if I did not mention that Canada remains a non-consultative member of the Antarctic Treaty. Becoming a full member of the Antarctic Treaty would be warmly welcomed on the international stage and would certainly serve to strengthen our position as a great polar nation and add weight to our Arctic foreign policy at very little cost.
The Canadian Arctic is so many things. It is our biggest coastline that links our nation from sea to sea to sea and represents 40% of our land mass. I love the idea of changing our national motto to include the Arctic Ocean: A Mari usque ad Mare usque ad Mare. Wouldn't that be a profound way to help celebrate Canada's upcoming sesquicentennial in 2017?
The Arctic is a huge part of Canadian identity. We are a polar nation. We would be very different as a nation and a people if it were not for this vast land and ocean stretching above us all the way to the North Pole. As Bernie Funston likes to say, and I know he presented to you recently, the Arctic is a “homeland, a frontier, a laboratory and a wilderness”. I'd like to add to that list because I believe it is also the world's greatest classroom.
In 1999, I founded Students on Ice, a program to take youth from across Canada and around the world on educational expeditions to the Arctic and the Antarctic. In the last 13 years we've taken over 2,000 students from 52 countries on these journeys; secondary and post-secondary students from every province and territory in Canada, including hundreds of northern aboriginal youth from the Yukon to Nunatsiavut. We've also had students from countries such as Afghanistan, Iran, Russia, New Zealand, Chile, South Africa, China, India, Israel, and Palestine.
On each ship-based expedition, the students travel with world-class teams of educators, elders, scientists, experts, artists, musicians, and leaders of all stripes—even politicians. Today, I'd like to invite all of you to join us on a future Arctic expedition. The next one is in July.
We've worked closely with members of Parliament, senators, congressmen and congresswomen, premiers, presidents, and even princes. Prince Albert II of Monaco is the honorary chair of my board of advisers.
Together with these partners, we're active in all kinds of related global educational initiatives. We reach hundreds of thousands of youth each year through conferences, new media, and different activities. Our growing alumni and alumni program are really well positioned to champion Arctic Council initiatives that respond to the needs of northern Canadians and connect the themes of Canada's Arctic Council chairmanship, Canada's Arctic foreign policy, and northern strategy objectives.
We possess, together with these students, a unique convening power to bring together many diverse stakeholders on Arctic issues. The impact and outcomes on the students, as you can imagine, are diverse, quite extraordinary, and quite inspiring, from personal levels to becoming Arctic ambassadors, by sharing their experiences with their communities back home, and in many cases representing Canada on an international stage. Most recently, some of the alumni tabled the International Youth Arctic Declaration at the senior Arctic officials' meeting of the Arctic Council in Luleå, Sweden.
All the students are fully supported by scholarships via our Students on Ice Foundation, and that's thanks to generous support from private and public sector partners. I can safely say that if not for Canada, Students on Ice would not exist, and we've been blessed to work with all kinds of government departments from INAC, Heritage, Environment, DFAIT, Canadian Wildlife Service, Parks Canada, and the list goes on. We are also quite involved in the International Polar Year, and the Canadian Museum of Nature is our biggest partner.
I want to commend this committee for the important and timely initiative that you're taking on. There's a perfect storm of governance challenges and opportunities that face the Canadian government with respect to the Arctic region. Canada's upcoming chairmanship of the Arctic Council puts us in a great position to lead, to show Canadians in the world why we are a great polar nation, and to make the decisions that we can be proud of and that will benefit generations to come.
I would also like to urge the committee to take a long-term view of international sustainable development in the Arctic. I strongly support the ecosystem-based managed and balanced approach to economic development and protecting the environment in the Arctic, as stated in the foreign policy. We must keep in mind at all times that good human industrial activities can have unintended effects. A recent example is about how narwhal whales migrating out of summer feeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago into Baffin Bay were turned back by seismic exploration. The whales of course use echolocation in a quiet ocean to hunt and navigate. They became trapped at breathing holes in the channels of the islands until it was too late for them to reach open water, when the holes froze up. They starved, and they died.
In 2008, about 1,000 trapped narwhals were counted near Pond Inlet. This kind of problem will likely increase as industrial activity increases, unless it's mitigated and studied properly. Certainly, the petroleum exploration people never intended to kill thousands of whales several hundred kilometres distant from their operations. It shows how in the Arctic, all activities, both human and natural, are connected. Even short-term activities can have long-term impacts.
Canada has identified environmental stewardship as being central to the sustainable development of the natural resources in the north, and that's great. Achieving this will require building leadership in the north and proving the capacity of northern communities to respond to the challenges and opportunities, especially due to the result of climate change.
I'd like to focus my remaining comments on the important role education will play in all of this, because it's truly fundamental. Broadly speaking, there are two main areas of education in dire need of improvement vis-à-vis the Arctic: education in the north for northerners and northern youth, and public education in the south about the north.
Across the Arctic, there are children and youth full of curiosity, hope, and dreams, and some amazing young emerging leaders, whom we should be proud of.
But too many of these youth are struggling, to put it mildly. I'm sure you're aware of the appalling statistics and circumstances: 75% of Inuit youth are not graduating from high school; many don't attend school; and 56% of the Inuit population are under the age of 25. It is a bit of a recipe for disaster. That's why it's such an urgent issue. And of course this educational disparity between non-aboriginal and aboriginal Canadians exists across the country; it's one of our greatest challenges.
What does improving education in the north mean? It's not just a matter of implementing new systems and curriculum. Improving this situation is intrinsically linked to some very basic needs, such as for adequate housing infrastructure. Sustainable, healthy, prosperous, and well-educated northern communities must be a pillar and priority in our Arctic policies.
Initiatives such as the 2011 national strategy on Inuit education, the Nunavut Sivuniksavut program here in Ottawa, the Nunavut Arctic College, and the new Amaujaq National Centre for Inuit Education are doing great work in this area and deserve more support.
With regard to public education and understanding about the Arctic for southern Canadians, there remains a remarkable void and disconnect. As an anecdotal example, during a recent workshop that my team was giving at one of Canada's teachers' colleges, the question was asked, how many of you learned about the Arctic in school? Not one of the teachers raised a hand. As a polar nation, we still have very little Arctic-related curriculum in our mainstream education systems. We need to change this.
Canada can and should be a leader in Arctic education. Our youth love to learn about the Arctic—its history, culture, flora, fauna, sciences, the contemporary issues facing the Arctic. As a platform for education I've never seen anything that comes close to the Arctic. Filling this void is also about bridging north and south, building trust and understanding, breaking down the misconceptions and stereotypes. It's also about preparing our youth in the best possible way for the future. We must take on this active role on so many levels.
With regard to climate change, from an educator's point of view it is our responsibility to help prepare this next generation for the kind of world they'll be living in as adults. During one of my many polar journeys with Dr. Fred Roots, one of our country's legendary polar statesmen, he said to us:
||To pass a torch in civilization, just as in a relay race, the person you are passing it to has to be ready to take it or else it will get dropped. It is the duty of all of us to say enough about what kind of a race we are in, and what are the rules of that race, before we pass the torch.
As an aside, Dr. Roots dropped a flagpole on the North Pole in 1969, well before our Russian neighbours did in 2007. However, when he dropped the flagpole, it had all the flags of the United Nations on it. It's still there today; what a remarkable gesture—much more symbolic and appropriate.
To conclude, there are four education-related projects I wish to share with you that I think would be wonderful ways to showcase and build on Canada's arctic foreign policy, northern strategy, and chairmanship.
The first is Polar House, or Arctic House, a national centre to raise awareness about and to celebrate the past, present, and future of the Arctic.
The concept of a national centre to support Canada's Arctic is not new. In 1987, the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs published the report Canada and Polar Science. One of its chief recommendations was the establishment of a polar house or Arctic house.
I worked quite a lot on this throughout the IPY, and there is a full business plan that I'd be happy to share with any of you. It would support Canada's Arctic foreign policy by building public support for the exercise of Canadian sovereignty, a platform for policy, technical dialogue, education, social and economic development, environmental protection, and on and on it goes.
Other countries, such as Norway, Russia, and New Zealand, have polar houses, and I think Canada deserves a polar house. I even have a location, if you're interested.
The second project is the creation of a global, unique polar or Arctic school, an international, semester-based school based in the capital region that would draw youth from across Canada and around the world to study Arctic issues, build knowledge and capacity, and have a field school component whereby students then participate as interns in scientific, northern community-based development projects and expeditions in the Arctic. A broad range of partnerships would make this a global, unique, Canadian initiative.
The third is the establishment of an ongoing Youth Arctic Council, a parallel organization. Our youth represent the true sustainable future of the Arctic. Engaging them at an early stage in the workings of the Arctic Council would empower them to act as champions and catalysts, which would assist and actually feed the real Arctic Council with vision, ideas, and strategic planning. They could probably talk as well about things that the real Arctic Council can't talk about. This Youth Arctic Council could meet both physically and virtually, and it could be a great outcome of our chairmanship.
Lastly is the virtual Arctic project, for which we're already working on phase one, in partnership with the Museum of Nature and Heritage Canada. It's an educational resource for Canadian youth from coast to coast to coast, and it is a project that will go a long way to fill that void of Arctic curriculum in Canada.
I look forward to any questions and to helping make these initiatives and others a reality in the future.