Leona Aglukkaq steps down from heading Arctic Council

United States Secretary of State John Kerry is greeted by Leona Aglukkaq, Canadian Minister for the Arctic Council, as he arrives Friday, April 24, 2015 in Iqaluit, Nunavut. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

IQALUIT, Nunavut – The first aboriginal northerner to lead the group of eight nations that ring the North Pole has stepped down from the post.

Federal environment minister Leona Aglukkaq spoke of the pride she took in heading the Arctic Council in handing the chairmanship off to U-S Secretary of State John Kerry in a meeting in Iqaluit today.

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The council co-ordinates international co-operation and research in this increasingly busy and contested region.

Aglukkaq says that the concerns and expertise of northerners must continue to inform the group’s work.

She takes credit for putting the concerns of northerners at the top of the agenda for Canada’s two-year chairmanship.

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New studies have been commissioned during that time.

They include work on black carbon, a significant contributor to sea ice melt, and mental health.

Canada has also overseen recommendations to use more traditional knowledge in Arctic Council research.

The Canadian chairmanship has also seen the birth of the Arctic Economic Council, a self-selecting group of businesses from around the Arctic who will meet to discuss opportunities and best practices.

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