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Arctic Athabaskan Council

Conflict continues in the Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine
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Conflict continues in the Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine
February 14, 2022 - As the conflict continues in the Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine, the Arctic Athabaskan Council (AAC) is urging global leaders in Canada, United States, Russia, and Ukraine not to forget commitments they have made to Indigenous Peoples.

Specifically, AAC wants to remind state leaders that Canada, United States and Ukraine are all party to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), originally adopted in 2007. AAC points to Article 30 which states: “Military activities shall not take place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples, unless justified by a relevant public interest or otherwise freely agreed with or requested by the indigenous peoples concerned,” Further it proclaims: “States shall undertake effective consultations with the indigenous peoples concerned, through appropriate procedures and in particular through their representative institutions, prior to using their lands or territories for military activities.”

Crimean Tatars comprise the largest population of Indigenous Peoples in Ukraine. They were officially recognized by the Government of Ukraine and the European Parliament as Indigenous Peoples in February 2016.

Eight Arctic states, including the United States, Canada, and Russia and six permanent participants (Indigenous Peoples) make up the Arctic Council which serves as the leading forum for the Arctic. AAC represents Athabaskan Peoples of the United States and Canada.

Arctic Council serves as a high-level forum that promotes cooperation, coordination, and interaction among the Arctic states and permanent participants. It is at the Arctic Council table that international cooperation agreements have been reached that address important areas including climate change, marine pollution, and Arctic scientific study. It also serves as an important global forum working towards agreements committed to sustainable solutions as regions look to future developments in the Arctic.

Chief Gary Harrison International Chair, Arctic Athabaskan Council

“We have warming taking place in the Arctic at three times the speed of other global jurisdictions. This reality and the future threat to Arctic water systems, marine life, wildlife, and our fragile ecosystems will affect us here in the Arctic, and globally, for generations to come. The work now at the Arctic Council table is already at a critical stage. Our relationship with the Russian Federation, as with all our regional partners, is one of diplomatic cooperation that took years to build. We fear this could be greatly disrupted if the resistance to finding a solution over the conflict in Ukraine continues.”

Chief Bill Erasmus, Canadian Chair, Arctic Athabaskan Council

“We want to remind all governments that the Arctic Council is the world’s only forum where we, as Indigenous People have inclusion at a global level. As concerns over the Russian-Ukraine crisis are increasing, we feel the need to speak out. UNDRIP clearly protects Indigenous Peoples Rights and Territories, and this declaration must be adhered to through this process. The loss of human life, the economic and environmental costs should a war commence, is troubling. We do not support or endorse any war and urge all parties to seek a diplomatic solution.”

Permanent Participants of the Arctic Council include the Arctic Athabaskan Council, Inuit Circumpolar Council, Saami Council, Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Gwich’in Council International, and Aleut International Association.

There are several upcoming meetings set to take place that involve Indigenous Arctic organizations including Arctic Territory of Dialogue 2022 set to take place in Ste Petersburg in April 2022. The meeting is to be hosted by the Russian Federation.


Media Inquiries:

Janet Smellie
Project Manager
Arctic Athabaskan Council
(867) 336-2752