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Protection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge a priority for Prime Minister Trudeau and President Biden

Protection of the calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd identified as part of the “Roadmap for a Renewed U.S.-Canada Partnership

(Old Crow, Yukon, Canada –February 24, 2021)

Vuntut Gwitchin Government is commending yesterdays’s acknowledgment by Prime Minister Trudeau and President Biden of the importance of cross border cooperation in protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

In a Joint Statement released yesterday following the first bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Trudeau and President Biden, the leaders recognized the importance of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and “agreed to work together to help safeguard the Porcupine caribou herd calving grounds that are invaluable to the Gwich’in and Inuvialuit people’s culture and subsistence.”

Today’s acknowledgement recognizes the importance of protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to Canada and supports the intent of the 1987 international agreement between Canada and the U.S. on the conservation of the Porcupine caribou herd.

Vuntut Gwitchin Government would like to acknowledge the hard work of the countless Gwich’in voices, our allies and the elders of the 1988 Gwich’in Garthering who have dedicated their lives and work to ensure the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is permanently protected.

We would like to also acknowledge the work that the Government of Canada has done to voice concerns on the effects that development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would have on the Porcupine caribou herd and the impacts that it would have on our communities.

For millennia, the Gwich’in Nation have been stewards of these lands and for effective stewardship to continue the voices of the Gwich’in Nation need to be recognized. We look forward to working with the Canadian and U.S. governments to ensure the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is permanently protected.


“Since 1988, upon our elders’ direction, the Gwich’in Nation have worked tirelessly to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; the beating heart of an ancient ecosystem. The caribou do not recognize the border between Alaska and Canada and today’s acknowledgment of the need for cross border cooperation in protecting the herds critical calving grounds recognizes this. Our elders have always taught us that as we make a shift as a species to honour the survival of others and the future generations that are depending on us, that we can only be successful in this together. Hai choo’ to Prime Minister Trudeau and President Biden for making protection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge part of a renewed U.S. – Canada Partnership. “ Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm, Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation

For Media Inquiries Please Contact:

Jordan Peterson

Director, Intergovernmental Relations & Governance

Vuntut Gwitchin Government

[email protected] – (867) 689-5557


In 2017, a lease sale of the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil and gas development became law through a provision slipped within the U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Despite being on the other side of the border, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is of great importance to Canada. The Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the critical calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd and sacred lands to the Gwich’in Nation of Alaska and Canada. The herd, which spends much of its migration in Canada, is central to the culture and food security to the Gwich’in Nation and other Indigenous communities in Canada.

Recognizing the Porcupine caribou herd as an “irreplaceable natural resource of great value which each generation should maintain and make use of so as to conserve them for future generations” the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States signed an agreement to conserve the herd. The objectives of the 1987 Agreement Between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America on the Conservation of the Porcupine Caribou Herd include conserving the herd and its habitat through international cooperation and coordination and enabling users of the Porcupine caribou herd to participate in this.

Despite the Agreement, the Government of Canada, and territorial and Indigenous governments who represent users of the herd in Canada, were treated merely as members of the public when it came to review of the proposed Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program (the Program). Even though significant concerns about the effects that development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would have on the herd, the impacts on Indigenous communities, and on the lack of consultation that has occurred Indigenous governments in Canada, remained unaddressed, the Trump Administration barrelled forward with a lease sale of the Coastal Plain on January 6, 2021.

The Government of Canada has domestic and international obligations with respect to the rights of the Gwich’in and other Indigenous users of the Porcupine Caribou herd and development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge places these rights in jeopardy. For decades, all levels of Canadian governments have supported protections of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Minister Wilkinson, has released several statements expressing concerns regarding the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Program, the most recent of which he stated “Porcupine caribou and their calving grounds are invaluable to the culture and subsistence of the Gwich’in and Inuvialuit and are integral to biodiversity in the north.”

In addition to the ongoing support provided by the Government of Canada, the Vuntut Gwitchin Government, Gwich’in Tribal Council, First Nation of Na’Cho Nyäk Dün and the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in have been seeking a public statement from Prime Minister Trudeau against development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. When the first lease sale of the Coastal Plain was announced, Vuntut Gwitchin led the public in calling on Prime Minister Trudeau for his immediate action to support protection of the sacred lands of the Gwich’in Nation and the Porcupine caribou herd.

On January 20, 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order which placed a temporary moratorium on all oil and natural gas leasing activities in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.


PSA: Nunavut Harvesters Support Program funding available to Qikiqtani Inuit.

February 24, 2021
QIA is issuing a call for the Nunavut Harvesters Support Program (NHSP) funding.

The purpose of NHSP is to preserve and advance Nunavut Inuit harvesting culture, heritage, and traditional ways of life. The programs include the Community Hunt Program and the Harvesting Equipment Program, which is made up of the small harvesting equipment program and the safety equipment program, and the Disaster Relief program.

Funding is available for:

  • Community Hunt: costs for fuel and food for each harvester participating in a community hunt.
  • Small Equipment: Up to 50% of the equipment costs (including shipping costs) to a maximum of $500 per application and $1,000 per household each fiscal year for small harvesting equipment/tools.
  • Safety Equipment: up to 50% of the equipment costs (including shipping costs) to a maximum of $500 per application and $1,000 per household each fiscal year for safety equipment used for harvesting.
  • Disaster Relief: up to 75% of the replacement cost, for any major harvesting equipment lost in an accident or disaster. Up to $6,000 for an ATV, $7,000 for a snowmobile or outboard motor, or $10,000 for a boat.

Who is eligible?

  • Qikiqtani Inuit, 16 years of age or older, and enrolled in the Nunavut Agreement;
  • A harvester who engages in traditional harvesting activity; and
  • A household which has not exceeded the annual funding limit ($1,000) in the applicable fiscal year.

To download an application form please visit or speak to your local Community Liaison Officer.

For more information, please contact:

Seepoola Noble
[email protected]


Nunavut budget prioritizes health, education – Nunatsiaq News

Feb 24, 2021

The Government of Nunavut is proposing to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic by boosting spending on health, education and family services.

Finance Minister George Hickes revealed highlights from his proposed 2021-22 operating budget Tuesday in the legislative assembly.

“Investing in our health is more important now than ever,” he said during his budget address.

“The pandemic highlighted the importance of having health and social services available in the territory and in our communities.”

Hickes proposes to spend $2.3 billion, which works out to roughly $2 million less than was proposed in the previous year’s budget.

Read More:

Arviat declares state of emergency amid rising number of COVID-19 cases – CBC

Community has seen 86 cases of COVID-19 since Jan. 22

The hamlet of Arviat, Nunavut, is declaring a local state of emergency amid a rising wave of COVID-19 cases months after it seemed the community had eradicated the disease.

Health authorities have recorded 86 cases of COVID-19 since Jan. 22, when a second wave of diagnoses began.

The state of emergency starts Wednesday. Arviat Mayor Joe Savikataaq Jr. announced the move on a local radio station Tuesday afternoon, following a vote by council earlier that morning.

Under the state of emergency, the community will have a strict curfew beginning at 10 p.m. and ending at 6 a.m. each day. Hunters and those with shifts outside regular hours will still be allowed to leave their homes during these hours.

Read More:

NU Government: Upcoming COVID-19 vaccination clinics

The COVID-19 vaccine is Nunavut’s best protection against this virus, and all Nunavummiut are encouraged to be vaccinated as soon as they are eligible.
Vaccine dates for upcoming first doses are subject to change, based on vaccine supply and delivery. The next round of clinics to administer the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will be held in:

Community Date Location Time Call
Iqaluit – age 45 and over Starting March 1 Iqaluit Public Health Weekdays: 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturdays: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sanirajak March 5 – 6 Arnaqjuaq School 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. 867-928-8827
Arctic Bay March 8-10 Community Hall 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. 867-439-8873
Clyde River March 15 -16 Quluaq School 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. 867-924-6377
Pangnirtung March 15-17 Community Hall 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. 867-473-8977

Upcoming clinics for the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will be held in:

Community Date Location Time
Kugaaruk March 5 and 6 Arviligruaq Ilinniarvik school 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sanikiluaq March 8 – 9 Community Hall 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Coral Harbour March 12 – 13 Sakku School 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Naujaat March 16 – 17 Tusarvik School 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Kimmirut March 29 Qaqqalik School 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Qikiqtarjuaq March 29 – 30 Inuksuit School 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Kugluktuk March 29 – 31 Jimmy Hikok School 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Taloyoak April 5 and 6 Netsilik School 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Iqaluit –
priority groups
Ongoing Iqaluit Public Health Weekdays:
1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Anyone who received their first dose should receive a reminder from their health centre about their second dose appointment. You must be in the same community for both doses.

Call your local health centre if you missed the first clinic in your community and want to receive the vaccine. Please remember that priority will be given to Nunavummiut scheduled for their second dose. If no additional doses are available, a wait list will be created and individuals will be able to receive their first dose once additional vaccine supply is sent to the territory.

Physical distancing, hand hygiene and enhanced cleaning practices will be in place to help keep everyone healthy. For the protection of yourself and the community, we encourage you to wear your own mask to your appointment.

For information on upcoming vaccine clinics go to


Media Contact:

Danarae Sommerville
Communications Specialist
Department of Health
[email protected]


Government of Nunavut’s deficit less than predicted thanks to feds, says finance minister – Nunatsiaq News

Feb 23, 2021

Thanks to nearly $200 million in unexpected funding from the federal government, the Government of Nunavut’s deficit is almost 29 per cent lower than what was predicted last year.

“Had we not received this federal support, I would be reporting a significantly different fiscal situation today,” Finance Minister George Hickes said in his budget address in the legislature on Tuesday.

In November, Hickes predicted the deficit for the 2020-21 fiscal year would be record-breakingly high.

The GN’s deficit for the current year is estimated to be $21.4 million, which is $8.6 million less than the $30 million deficit predicted in last year’s budget.

The infusion of money from the federal government wasn’t expected in last year’s budget.

Read More:

Awards acknowledge and celebrate achievements in literacy in NWT

February 23, 2021

Recipients of the Council of the Federation Literacy Award and the NWT Ministerial Literacy Awards were honoured virtually today.

Created in 2002 by the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, the NWT Literacy Awards honour the literacy achievements of youth and adult learners, exceptional educators, and organizations and businesses across the territory.

The Council of the Federation Literacy Awards, established in 2004, celebrate the valuable contributions made by Canadians in the field of literacy, as well as adult learners who demonstrate an exceptional commitment to literacy. One medal is awarded in each province or territory every year.

The 2020 recipients are:

  • Delores Vittrekwa, Fort McPherson – Council of the Federation Literacy Award
  • Cassidy Lennie-Ipana and Mataya Gillis, Inuvik – Ministerial Youth Learner Literacy Award
  • Susan Chaffee, Yellowknife – Ministerial Adult Learner Literacy Award
  • Dwayne Drescher “Adjgaliaq”, Inuvik – Ministerial Outstanding NWT Educator Award
  • Javaroma Gourmet Coffee and Tea, Yellowknife – Ministerial Outstanding Support for Literacy Development NWT Business Award
  • William Maltus, Yellowknife – Ministerial Second Language Learner Award
  • Jim Stauffer, Whatì – Ministerial Supporting Literacy Through Technology Award
  • Deninu Kųę́ First Nation, Deninu Kųę́ First Nation (Fort Resolution) – Ministerial Outstanding Non-Profit Support for Literacy/Language Development Award


“It is an honour to celebrate the excellence of our winners and all they have achieved. Literacy skills in any and all of our Official Languages are crucial to daily living, employment, citizenship, personal advancement and life enjoyment. I offer my sincere congratulations to all of this year’s recipients.”

– R.J. Simpson, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment

Related links

Media Requests, please contact:

Melissa Bannister

Senior Communications Advisor

Department of Education, Culture and Employment

[email protected]




Always a leader’: Vuntut Gwitchin chief remembers the late Darius Elias – CBC

‘Darius made me a better leader and a better person,’ says Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm

Feb 23, 2021

Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm remembers talking to the late Darius Elias in 2018, when the two men both ran for the leadership of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation.

Elias was already a seasoned politician at the time — he’d served as MLA for the Vuntut Gwitchin riding for 10 years — while Tizya-Tramm was, by comparison, relatively new to elected politics.

Still, Tizya-Tramm said there was never any sense of serious rivalry — he had too much respect for Elias.

“It took me a while to realize that, you know, I wasn’t running against anyone, but was running for government,” Tizya-Tramm recalled.

Read More:

Online seminar: Indigenous Health Research Ethics in the Arctic

Organized on Tuesday 9 March, 2021 at 18:00 – 19:30 (UTC +1), the seminar brings together Indigenous health research experts from across the Circumpolar North to highlight and discuss the diversity and challenges found within and between different systems.

The need to establish systems to secure ethical research practices in the Arctic, especially as it pertains to Indigenous health research, is increasingly debated and discussed both within academia and among Indigenous peoples. Furthermore, ethical guidelines and specific systems for ethical review are becoming more common throughout the Indigenous world, both within and outside the Arctic. The recently established ethical review board for Sámi health research in Norway constitutes just one of such initiatives.

This seminar offers a great possibility to understand the overarching developments within the field, compare the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches, and learn from the experiences made across the Arctic. In the light of the Sámediggi (Sámi parliament in Sweden) now clearly calling for similar developments in the Swedish context, this seminar should be of much interest.

The seminar consists of short (5-10 minutes) presentations from different contexts followed by small group conversations and a moderated big group discussion/Q&A.

Organizer: Department of Epidemiology and Global Health, Várdduo – Centre for Sámi Research, Umeå University

The seminar will be held in English. Welcome to participate via:

Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 622 3179 0498
Passcode: 186813

Presenters from across the Arctic:

Christina V.L. Larsen. PhD, Centre for Public Health in Greenland, University of Southern Denmark & Greenland Centre for Health Research, University of Greenland

Jon Petter Stoor, PhD, Department of Epidemiology and Global Health, Umeå University & Centre for Sámi Health Research, Department of Community Medicine, UiT – the Arctic University of Norway

United States
Katie Cueva, PhD, Center for Behavioral Health Research and Services, Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage;
Elizabeth Rink, PhD, Department of Health and Human Development, Montana State University

Josée Lavoie, PhD, Ongomiizwin Research, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba;
Gwen Healey Akearok, PhD, Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre, Nunavut

Lena Maria Nilsson (deputy director, Várdduo, Centre for Sámi research, Umeå, Sweden)


Education success in the NWT can only come with Indigenous control – Northern News Services

February 23, 2021

My goal with the two previous columns I have written about the proposed polytechnic  transformation for Aurora college is to lay out the facts facing Team Polytechnic in the Department of Education.

The numbers show Dene, Metis, Inuvialuit and Inuit students in the NWT are not getting the education they need to succeed in academic programs and go on to college and university. This is documented in low graduation rates (35 percent). We can see the problem clearly in Grade 10, where there are more students than Grade 9 because Grade 10 is where social passing stops.

We see it in the Aurora College enrolment numbers as there’s a huge number of students in upgrading rather than higher education courses or trades.

Read More:

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