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Inuvialuit Respond to Offshore Ban of Oil and Gas Licences
On December 20, 2016, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Barack Obama issued the United States-Canada Joint Arctic Leaders’ Statement.
As part of the measures announced in the Joint Statement, Trudeau stated that Canada is designating all Arctic Canadian waters as indefinitely off-limits to offshore oil and gas licensing.
Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) Chair and CEO, Duane Ningaqsiq Smith, responded to this announcement in a letter to the Prime Minister, sharing his concern around the potential opportunities this decision could take away from Inuvialuit.
“While the restriction of offshore licensing would reduce the possibility of negative environmental impacts, such a restriction would also limit the future prospect of retaining economic and other benefits from these resources within our region,” Smith said. “Attention and resources must be dedicated to empowering Arctic communities and advancing sustainable development of Inuvialuit.”
Oil and gas activity in the Beaufort Sea has been quiet in recent years and this announcement will not have an immediate impact on economic development in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (ISR). The measures announced in the Joint Statement are, however, subject to a five-year review.
IRC will continue to engage with the Prime Minister, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada and Natural Resources Canada to ensure Inuvialuit are consulted and involved in any resource development planning for the ISR.