Inuit businesses and workers could benefit from defence infrastructure build in the North
In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, pressure has been mounting from all directions for Ottawa to up its defence game, says the chair of the Inuit Development Corporation Association.
Assuming the federal government eventually succumbs to this reasonable international and national pressure, Harry Flaherty wondered what form should Canada’s increased defence and security spending take? Where could it have the most impact?
In a well-researched and reasoned article published this week in the Globe and Mail, Flaherty suggested one of the answers to this question lies in the North, in Inuit Nunangat — the Inuit homeland.
Flaherty noted the presence of the Canadian Armed Forces in the Arctic is much smaller in comparison to Russia’s polar military efforts.
A more robust presence of the Canadian Armed Forces in our Arctic regions would strengthen the position of the Northwest Passage as an internal waterway fully under Canadian jurisdiction.
One positive sign of change this came in the form of Defence Minister Anita Anand recently unveiling the DND’s new Indigenous Reconciliation Program, with a focus on northern/Arctic sovereignty.
In 2022, Anand announced Canada's $38.6 billion plan to modernize North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) over the next two decades.
She stated it was the largest investment in Canada's NORAD capabilities in a generation. It includes upgrades to four NORAD operating locations: Inuvik, Goose Bay, Yellowknife and Iqaluit.
"Inuit-owned businesses and Inuit workers would be at the heart of a defence-focused infrastructure program," Flaherty stated. "Inuit know the Arctic like no others. We are willing and ready to step up and contribute our traditional knowledge of Inuit Nunangat to the defence of our lands and communities."