Growing from the Inside Out
Arctic Athabaskan Council rises to the challenge of enhancing mandate during challenging times
Since February 2021, Arctic Athabaskan Council (AAC) has continued its work in earnest to implement the goals and objectives of AAC’s Five-year Strategic Plan (2021-2026).
Starting February 8, 2021, AAC began a partnership with Global Affairs Canada (GAC) under the Global Arctic Leadership Initiative (GALI). Through this initiative, AAC has been able to begin to revitalize and improve AAC’s day-to-day operations, enhance capacity, and strengthen our mandate.
The challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic has (similar to other international treaty organizations) resulted in a “slowdown” on some fronts, particularly when it comes to travel, in-person meetings, and delays with some new project initiatives. However, AAC has made progress by focusing its energy on strengthening its secretariat so it can better support AAC’s mandate to protect and promote Athabaskan interests both at home and the circumpolar level.
AAC’s leadership, as with its international counterparts, had no choice but to adapt to the new virtual meeting realities since COVID-19 hit. Despite some setbacks, and the lack of in-person meetings, AAC continued to be a dedicated participant when it came to outreach initiatives, including taking a lead role with several projects tied to the recognition of Arctic Council’ 25th Anniversary on September 19, 2021.
Through training of staff and orientation of AAC contractors and researchers, the introduction of Results-Based Management (RBM) practices into AAC’s day to day operation is already showing benefits. AAC’s Gender Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) study provided a clear indication that there are challenges that exist. AAC has seen immediate results by strategically strengthening its mandate to include Elders and Youth Advisors within the organization. This accomplishment will go along way in balancing the contributions to International Arctic research, by Athabaskan People, women and youth. By enhancing the engagement of Elders, AAC will significantly increase the Arctic Council’s access to Athabaskan Indigenous Knowledge and provide a more fulsome scope of views and data in support of its research efforts. With the introduction of youth at the Arctic forum level, and at the Arctic Council table alongside AAC’s Athabaskan Representatives, AAC will improve its voice at the international table. This growth in capacity will also serve to strengthen the outreach within Athabaskan communities, and play an important role in in terms of cultural, social and economic development and environment protection.