On June 24, the NATO Council of Canada (NCC) operated by the Atlantic Council of Canada, hosted its annual Spring Conference in cooperation with the Royal Canadian Military Institute at their new facilities. In addition to NCC members, a number of academics, students, industry experts, and interested Canadians packed into the RCMI’s main dining room to listen to our three panels and keynote speakers. This year the topic explored was Canada’s Arctic: Sovereignty and Security for Sustainable Development.
After opening remarks from ACC President Julie Lindhout, the opening keynote address was given by the Senator from Yukon, the Hon. Daniel Lang. This was followed by the first panel composed of ‘frenemies’ Whitney Lackenbauer from the University of Waterloo and Rob Huebert of the University of Calgary who engaged in a lively debate over the Arctic’s “Big Picture.”
Our second panel, Sovereignty and Security, featured Tazrian Alam of Western University, Major General Christopher Coates, Deputy Commander Continental, Joint Operations, and Colleen D’Iorio of the Canadian Space Agency. The panelists of varied backgrounds offered unique perspectives on several issues related to maintaining Canada’s sovereignty and improving security in the Arctic.
The third panel on Sustainable Development brought together Elizabeth Riddell-Dixon of Western University and Dawn Alexandrea Berry of Oxford’s St. Antony’s College. Both spoke about the challenges of offshore and onshore resource development in the Arctic, touching on a range of issues related to environmental degradation, competing international claims to offshore resources, and the impact on the Arctic’s Aboriginal communities.
The closing keynote address was given by the Hon. Bob Rae, Chief Negotiator for the Matawa Tribal Council. Rae’s current work has him negotiating on behalf of the Matawa First Nations in Ontario’s Ring of Fire with the provincial government. In his address, Rae commented on the importance of not only developing Arctic resources in a sustainable manner, but also in an inclusive manner to make certain that native communities benefit from the development of their lands.
The schedule closed with some final remarks by Julie Lindhout who then invited conference attendees to offer some of their own views on the Arctic and the matters discussed throughout the day. A number of audience members shared their thoughts with the other guests, which stimulated some thoughtful discussions during the reception that followed the event.
The NCC would like to thank all of our panelists for taking the time to participate and share their expertise on this important region. We would also like to thank all those who attended, as well as our generous sponsors. We hope to see everyone at future events!