Statement from the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard on Western Arctic Oceans Day and the Member of Parliament for the Northwest Territories


June 28, 2019

Ottawa, ON - As Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, I'm thrilled to mark this year's Western Arctic Oceans Day, which is being celebrated on July 1st in Sachs Harbour, the most northern community in the Northwest Territories.

Western Arctic Oceans Day is an annual celebration co-hosted by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation.  The celebration rotates through the six communities of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (ISR), and generally includes a community feast.  The date for Western Arctic Oceans Day is decided annually in collaboration with the host community but is always later than World Oceans Day, which is marked on June 8th, when the Arctic Ocean is generally still frozen in the ISR communities.   

This day is an opportunity to celebrate the unique ties that northern Indigenous communities have with the waterways of their traditional territories.

Canada’s Arctic is culturally and geographically unique; it represents approximately 40 per cent of our country’s land mass. It is an integral part of our national identity.  The Arctic is also home to more than 100,000 Canadians and  their economy, environment, and social fabric are inseparably linked to the ocean and its resources.

We know that Canada’s climate is warming twice as fast as global average and the North is warming at three times the global rate and as the impacts of climate change continue to threaten ways of life, it is increasingly essential to mitigate climate change and build resilience in the North. The Government of Canada is taking action to fight climate change and protect our nature and oceans for our kids and grandkids.

Given this urgent need to take action, the Government of Canada together with Indigenous communities are strengthening the protection of our oceans and marine species. Some of the concrete actions include:

  • continuing to implement the $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan, the largest investment ever made to protect our coasts and waterways, and bolster Canada’s world-class marine safety system;
  • protecting 8.27 per cent (over 475,000 km2) of our marine and coastal areas to date, up from less than 1 per cent in 2015 and well on our way to meeting our commitment to protect 10 per cent of these areas by 2020;
  • supporting the development of Indigenous-owned communal commercial fishing enterprises and aquaculture operations through the Northern Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative;
  • participating in a research mission with stakeholders and Indigenous peoples to understand changes occurring in the Beaufort Sea ecosystem;
  • strengthening the participation of Indigenous communities in marine emergency responses in local waters as members of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary, with funding for new community boats and related equipment in Ulukhaktok (NT), Tuktoyaktuk (NT) , Yellowknife (NT), Kugluktuk (NU), and Cambridge Bay (NU).

Recognizing the importance of deepening our collaboration with northern communities, in October of 2018 Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard announced the creation of a stand-alone Arctic Region to be developed in collaboration with Indigenous and Northern partners.  Since that time, our new Regional Director General and Assistant Commissioner have been engaging with our partners throughout the Arctic to explore a new way of doing business and ensure northerners are directly involved in decision-making about their resources and environment.  We are doing this because we understand that we must continue to deepen and strengthen our relationships with Indigenous communities by incorporating their knowledge and expertise into our planning and decision-making.

While we have made significant progress and shown strong leadership both at home and abroad, we must continue to do everything we can to better protect and understand our oceans. This is key to ensuring our Arctic communities and local economies are strong and competitive. On this Western Arctic Oceans Day, let us commit to continuing to take care of our oceans, together.  We only have one planet, and it’s important for all of us to do our part to keep our oceans safe, clean and healthy for the benefit of future generations.

-The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and Michael McLeod, Member of Parliament for the Northwest Territories

Associated Links

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Marie-Pascale Des Rosiers
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada 

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