With heightening tensions in Europe following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Jens Stoltenberg visited Cambridge Bay on August 25, the first in his position to do so. Specifically to shore up the strategic importance of Canada’s Arctic to the defence of North America and to the defensive alliance.

The visit included meeting up with members of the Canadian Armed Forces currently deployed there and a stop by the Canadian High Arctic Research Station as well as the North Warning System radar system site in the community.

“Our purpose is to prevent conflict and preserve peace. Much of the High North, has traditionally been an area of low tensions,” wrote Stoltenberg in an Op-Ed to the Globe and Mail. As Russia steps up its military activity in the Arctic, he adds, so must NATO.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Defence Minister Anita Anand, Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal, Foreign Affiars Minister Melanie Joly and Chief of Defence Gen. Wayne Eyre also took part in the visit.

“Protecting the Arctic and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples must go hand in hand. As we modernize our continental defences, we will be working closely with Indigenous communities. I thank Inuit leaders for the warm welcome and qulliq lighting ceremony in Nunavut Today,” wrote Anand on social media.

The North Warning System are a system of radar stations spread throughout the Canadian and American Arctics. It allows Canada to be more aware of what’s entering Canadian Arctic airspace. 47 out of 50 of these sites are located within Inuit Nunangat.

“Through facilities like this, Canada is able to ensure the security of our Arctic while also being able to better support our Arctic partners and allies,” wrote Joly on Twitter.

This is a part of Stoltenberg’s three day visit to Canada, which includes a stop by the Canadian Air Force Base in Cold Lake, Alberta.

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