Canada’s territorial premiers, PM discuss Arctic security and infrastructure

Concerns about Russian aggression in the Arctic prompted the meeting with federal leaders.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met virtually Monday with the northern premiers, including Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok, to discuss concerns about Arctic security in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (Mélanie Ritchot / Nunatsiaq News file photos)

Northerners need to play a “crucial role in the decision-making process” when it comes to Arctic security, Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok says.

“We have to be able to share what we’re seeing in northern communities. There’s a huge infrastructure gap that we see right across the North, right across the Arctic,” he said during an interview on CBC Radio’s The Current on Tuesday.

His comments follow a meeting he and other territorial premiers had Monday night with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about Arctic security in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, now in its fifth week.

In early March, Akeeagok, N.W.T. Premier Caroline Cochrane and Yukon Premier Sandy Silver signed a letter requesting a discussion with the federal government on security in the Arctic.

One of the premiers’ concerns outlined in the letter is Russia’s growing economic and military presence in its northern regions.

On CBC, Akeeagok stressed the importance of building healthy communities and strong infrastructure to assert sovereignty in the North.

Trudeau thanked the territorial premiers in a statement Tuesday for their governments’ solidarity with Ukraine in the face of Russia’s illegal invasion.

He said the federal government “remains deeply committed to supporting the health, security, and prosperity of the Arctic while defending Canadian sovereignty and upholding regional security.”