- Arctic Portal Library

Sovereignty as a Social Issue:
The case of Inuit Nunangat
Mark Vardy, PhD candidate
Department of Sociology
Queen’s University
Ontario, Canada
The 6th Open Assembly of
the Northern Research Forum
Hveragerdi, Iceland
September 5, 2011
Source: Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
Communities in Inuit Nunangat, by region, Canada, 2006
Source: Statistics Canada
Claudio Aporta. (2009). “The Trail as Home: Inuit and Their Pan-Arctic
Network of Routes.” Human Ecology. 37:131–146
1. What are the implications of the inclusion of
sea ice as territory in Inuit Nunangat for how
sovereignty is understood and practiced?
2. Assuming an understanding of territory that
includes sea ice, what, then, are the
implications of sea ice reduction (for how
sovereignty is understood and practiced)?
Complexities of Canada’s Claims to
Arctic Sovereignty
• Sovereignty was ceded from Inuit to Canada in
Nunavut with certain conditions
• Article 23.2.1 of Nunavut Land Claim
Settlement Agreement
• 2006: Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. launched
lawsuit (ongoing)
• 2010: Auditor General of Canada’s report
Berger (2006); Byers (2009); (Loukacheva, 2009); Nicol (2010); Powell (2010)
A Circumpolar Inuit Declaration on
Sovereignty in the Arctic (2009)
• “The actions of Arctic peoples and states, the
interactions between them, and the conduct
of international relations must give primary
respect to the need for global environmental
security, the need for peaceful resolution of
disputes, and the inextricable linkages
between issues of sovereignty and sovereign
rights in the Arctic and issues of selfdetermination” (Section 3.2).
Questions, revisited
Modern International Relations:
1. System of sovereign states
2. Sovereign nation-states
3. Individual political subjectivity
• Local knowledge and science ask us to
consider future conditions to which we will
have to respond.
• The historical specificity of sea ice reduction in
Inuit Nunangat requires an understanding of
sovereignty that emphasizes a “democratic
ethos,” he need for people dwelling in a
particular place to shape and legitimate the
articulation and practice of sovereignty.
Connolly (2007)
Aporta, C. (2009). The Trail as Home: Inuit and Their Pan-Arctic Network of Routes. Human
Ecology, 37(2), 131-146.
Berger, T. R. (2006) “The Nunavut Project: Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Implementation
Contract Negotiations for the Second Planning Period 2003-2013.”
Byers, M. (2010). Who Owns the Arctic? Understanding Sovereignty Disputes in the North.
Vancouver, BC: Douglas & McIntyre.
Connolly, W. E. (2007). “The Complexities of Sovereignty.” In Giorgio Agamben: Sovereignty &
Life. Stanford University Press.
Dodds, K. (2010). Flag planting and finger pointing: The Law of the Sea, the Arctic and the
political geographies of the outer continental shelf. Political Geography, 29(2), 63-73.
Elden, S. (2010). Land, terrain, territory. Progress in Human Geography, 34(6), 799-817.
Loukacheva, N. (2009). Nunavut and Canadian Arctic Sovereignty. Journal of Canadian StudiesRevue D Etudes Canadiennes, 43(2), 82-108.
Nicol, H. N. (2010). Reframing sovereignty: Indigenous peoples and Arctic states. Political
Geography, 29(2), 78-80.
Powell, R. C. (2010). Lines of possession? The anxious constitution of a polar geopolitics. Political
Geography, 29(2), 74-77.
Office of the Auditor General of Canada. (2010). Human Resource Capacity—Government of
Nunavut. http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/nun_201003_e_33568.html
Nunavut Bureau of Statistics (2011) http://www.eia.gov.nu.ca/stats/
Nunavut Tunngavik Inc . (2011) http://www.tunngavik.com/about/

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