This year’s Arctic Security Working Group (ASWG) gathering in Iqaluit was a great success, according to the event’s co-chair, Col. Dan Rivière.
“It was awesome,” he said. “A great experience.”
The event occurred in the city’s Aqsarniit Hotel on June 6 and 7, and was co-hosted by the Government of Nunavut and Joint Task Force North (JTFN), a regional task force of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) based in Yellowknife.
Rivière, JTFN’s commander, estimates there were 80 in-person attendees, and another 70 people participating online. Attendees included industry specialists, academics, CAF and RCMP personnel, federal and territorial government officials, and representatives from the United States and Greenland – all of whom had a keen interest “in the security and safety of the North,” he said.
The theme of the gathering was Critical Infrastructure: Northern Considerations and Priorities, and was focused on what Rivière calls “human security.”
“It’s not security purely in the sense of military defense security, it’s about the safety of people, really,” he said. “There were discussions about cyber security, about climate change, about power generation – things that are essential for people of the North.”
There were many “very helpful conversations” about some of the most pressing issues facing the region, according to Rivière, and attendees will continue to collaborate on solutions.
“ASWG is like an umbrella forum that guides more specific sub working groups and efforts,” he said. “In between these forums and sessions, we work together day-to-day as well.”
“We exchange information, and that leads to knowledge, which is very powerful.”
Attendees of the gathering also took a tour of Iqaluit’s new deep-sea port, which Rivière believes will “help the communities in the area so much.”
Four youth from the Nunavut Sport and Recreation Youth Ambassador Program participated in the event by managing registration.
Premier P.J. Akeeagok gave the keynote address.
“Conversations about Arctic security must happen here in the North,” he said in a news release after the fact. “True Arctic security and sovereignty can only be achieved through investments to close the infrastructure gaps experienced in our communities. We must also ensure investments directed towards Arctic security bolster our shared military and community objectives.
“Through my remarks to the working group, I have re-confirmed our territory’s ongoing commitment to build strong partnerships in Arctic security to shape a more secure and resilient North. Through climate actions, improved technologies, and building on the strength of our people, we will advance our common goals into fundamental human security.”