The Arctic harbours one of the world’s least disturbed marine ecosystems, plays a crucial role in moderating the planet’s climate and is home to spectacular wildlife, fish and marine mammal populations. The biological riches of the Arctic provide physical and spiritual sustenance for indigenous peoples who have vibrant communities in the north.
The Arctic and its people now face enormous challenges. Climate change is melting polar ice that contributes to climate stability, regulates ocean currents and is the foundation of the Arctic’s biological richness. The warming ocean is altering the Arctic marine ecosystem in ways never before witnessed by humans. At the same time, the disappearance of ice is beginning to provide unprecedented access for industrial development.
The Arctic is vitally important to Canada, making up 68 percent of its coastline and playing a central role in its identity as a northern country. Canada’s north stretches 165,000 kilometres (99,000 miles) from Baffin Island in the east, across the high Arctic archipelago to the McKenzie River delta and the Yukon in the west.
The Arctic is ever-present in Canadian culture. Every student sings about “the True North Strong and Free” in the National Anthem, learns about the creation of Nunavut in 1999 and studies famous Arctic explorers like Alexander Mackenzie and Sir John Franklin. Canadians read the work of poets and writers who weave the North into the fabric of their writing such as Robert Service, Margaret Atwood, John Ralston Saul and Robertson Davies.
Likewise, Canada is important to the Arctic. Inuit and government leaders from Canada have played pivotal roles in establishing international cooperation in the Arctic Council, negotiating a global treaty on contaminants and alerting the world to the effects of climate change.
To this end, Oceans North Canada promotes science- and community-based conservation of Canada’s northern seas and the resulting well-being of indigenous residents who rely upon its natural wealth.