The UArctic Assembly 2023 kicked off on Tuesday, 23 May, with pre-meetings on various topics, e.g. ICARP IV, Circumpolar Studies, Indigenous films, and the North American Caucus, in the morning and a scenic boat tour aboard the AML Louis Jolliet on the St. Lawrence River in the afternoon.
On Wednesday morning the rector of Université Laval, Sohpie D'Amours, welcomed the participants of the UArctic Assembly to her university. She identified sustainable development of the North as a key topic in the work of Université Laval.
Erik Furu of the Norwegian Embassy in Canada briefly introduced Norway's chairship program of the Arctic Council. He furthermore emphasized the two cross-cutting priorities of Arctic youth and Arctic Indigenous peoples, increasing opportunities for both to participate and contribute.
In the afternoon on Wednesday, a captivating panel discussion on the topic of sustainable development was held. David Hik, Executive Director - Programs at Polar Knowledge Canada, remarked that increasing sustainability is about equity - being connected, having access to services, being able to benefit from opportunities. Lena Maria Nilsson of Umeå University reminded the audience that our capacity to solve problems lies in the questions we pose. Hilligje van’t Land, Secretary General of the International Association of Universities (IAU), emphasized that the future will not wait, so the challenge is to ensure that people are interested in taking action and making changes for the positive.
The evening was spent at an Indigenous-themed evening at the Musée de la Civilisation de Québec. Participants were given access to the exhibition on First Nations and Inuit in the 21st Century, called "This Is Our Story". Additionally, Janice Parsons Gordon and Sandy Emudluk from Kuujuuaq gave an incredible performance of traditional Inuit throat singing and drumming.
The UArctic Entrepreneurship Fund, a new seed fund for incubator-stage products and services that aim to benefit the Arctic environment or Arctic communities, was officially launched on Thursday, 25 May. You can read more details from this news story.
The last evening of the UArctic Assembly 2023 was spent at a gala banquet at the original location of Université Lavel, the Séminaire de Québec, during which the participants enjoyed a cocktail hour, festive music, and a three-course dinner. Outi Snellman, Head of UArctic International Secretariat and UArctic Secretary General, gave a speech acknowledging the 25th anniversary of the Iqaluit declaration and the founding of UArctic. We were also highly honoured to receive an address from Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, for this occasion. Mary Simon stated: "Thank you for allowing me the chance to celebrate with you. [...] It is particularly meaningful for me, as I was involved in the establishment of the University of the Arctic". She highlighted the importance of education, not only by encouraging Northerners to attend post-secondary education, but also by involving northern communities in the development of curricula and taking their knowledge, traditions, culture and language into account when designing study programs. Mary Simon concluded with these inspirational words: "Keep building, keep reaching. I believe in you and your desire to create a better world".
During a press conference on the morning of Friday, 26 May, major funding projects for Université Laval from the federal and provincial governments were announced. You can read more on these investments from the news articles linked below.
- Partnership between the governments of Canada and Quebec
- Université Laval receives $19 million from the Government of Canada to fund construction of Carrefour international Brian-Mulroney
- Launch of the Institut nordique du Québec science complex at Université Laval
The key decisions made during the Assembly meeting can be found listed below.
UArctic welcomed 17 new members to the network:
- Keyano College, Canada
- Ontario Tech University, Canada
- University of Alaska Southeast, United States
- University of Toronto, Canada
- World Maritime University, Sweden
- Global Health, McMaster University, Canada
- Arctic Initiative, Belfer Center, Harvard Kennedy School, United States
- Science Diplomacy Center, United States
- Indian Maritime University, India
- Jilin University, China
- Rashtriya Raksha University, India
- University of Dundee, United Kingdom
- University of Glasgow, United Kingdom
- University of Tasmania, Australia
- Arctic Basecamp Foundation, Netherlands
- Halpin Research Centre, Ireland
- Oxford University Polar Forum, United Kingdom
New Board Members
The Assembly made the following elections to the Board:
- Dr. Lesley Brown from Yukon University as member of the Board for a three-year term (2023-2026)
- Viljo Vuorimäki form University of Lapland as Student Representative on the Board for a fixed three-year term (2023-2026)
The Assembly decided to increase the membership fee as follows:
- Membership fee of EUR 750 for Arctic and Non-Arctic members with an annual operating budget of less than EUR 10 million.
- Membership fee of EUR 1500 for Arctic and Non-Arctic members with an annual operating budget of greater than EUR 10 million, but less than EUR 100 million.
- Membership fee of EUR 4000 for Arctic and Non-Arctic members with an annual operating budget of greater than EUR 100 million.
The Assembly approved the granting of full thematic network status to four thematic networks:
- Thematic Network on Decolonization of Arctic Library and Archives Metadata (DALAM), hosted by Polar Libraries Colloquy, Canada
- Thematic Network on Digital North: Three-Dimensional Technologies and Arctic Education, hosted by UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Norway
- Thematic Network on Frozen Arctic Conservation, hosted by University of Lapland, Finland
- Thematic Network on Northern and Arctic Island Studies Research, hosted by University of the Highlands and Islands, Scotland
The Assembly approved the provisional establishment of five thematic networks:
- Thematic Network on Arctic Cultures and History, hosted by University of Faroe Islands, Faroe Islands
- Thematic Network on Blue Economy and the Arctic, hosted by Nord University, Norway
- Thematic Network on Collaborative Online International Learning and Biodiversity Education across the Arctic Circle (COIL@UArctic), hosted by Robert Gordon University, Scotland, UK
- Thematic Network on High Latitude Dust, hosted by Agricultural University of Iceland, Iceland
- Thematic Network on Microtomography of Arctic Marine Organisms, hosted by UiT Arctic University of Norway, Norway
The Assembly approved the UArctic Financial statements, the Auditor report for 2022, the UArctic Annual Report 2022 as well as UArctic Operating Budget 2023.
UArctic’s Nominations Committee
The Assembly elected Laila Hedegaard Pedersen and re-elected Gail Fondahl and Sven D. Haakanson Jr. as members of the UArctic’s Nominations Committee.
Friends of UArctic
The Assembly invited Gary Kachanoski, Peter Sköld, Karen Barnes, Evon Peter, and Mona Johnson to join the Friends of UArctic.
The Assembly approved amendments to both the UArctic Constitution as well as to the UArctic Bylaws.
UArctic Assembly 2024
The Assembly approved the dates and supported the plans for the next UArctic Assembly, to be held on 2-3 June 2024 as part of the Arctic Congress on May 29 – June 3, 2024 in Bodø, Norway.
The University of the Arctic (UArctic) is a cooperative network of universities, colleges, research institutes and other organizations concerned with education and research in and about the North. UArctic builds and strengthens collective resources and collaborative infrastructure that enables member institutions to better serve their constituents and their regions. Through cooperation in education, research and outreach we enhance human capacity in the North, promote viable communities and sustainable economies, and forge global partnerships.