Circumpolar affairs and CIRNAC

Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) plays a key role in Canada's work with other Arctic nations.

As lead federal department for the North, CIRNAC has responsibility for:

CIRNAC also plays an important role in the promotion of circumpolar cooperation among the 8 Arctic countries formally through Canada's Arctic and Northern Policy Framework. CIRNAC works to strengthen governance and improve the quality of life in Canada's North through participation in the Arctic Council and bilateral relationships.

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Arctic Council

The Arctic Council is the leading multilateral forum through which Canada advances its Arctic interests internationally.

While Global Affairs Canada leads and coordinates Canada’s overall participation in the council, CIRNAC works closely with Indigenous, territorial and provincial partners at the council to advance shared interests to improve environmental, human, economic and social conditions in Canada’s North and across the circumpolar world.

Many Arctic Council activities focus on building capacity in Northern and Indigenous communities in areas such as culture, health, the economy and environment. CIRNAC supports the participation of Indigenous and Northern stakeholders so that they are enabled to influence circumpolar affairs and can participate in international projects that contribute to community resilience, knowledge creation and international best practices related to sustainable development in the Arctic.

CIRNAC’s role on the Arctic Council

CIRNAC has an important role to play in promoting cooperation among the 8 Arctic countries through the international chapter of the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework. For example, a CIRNAC employee serves as Canada’s Head of Delegation to the Arctic Council’s Sustainable Development Working Group, which promotes international cooperation to advance sustainable development in the Arctic.

CIRNAC implements Canadian initiatives under the Arctic Council's Sustainable Development Program, including promoting a strategic approach to Arctic sustainable development and integrating capacity building into the activities of the Arctic Council.

More specifically CIRNAC provides policy and organizational support to Canada's Senior Arctic Official, based in Global Affairs Canada. As well as co-ordination of Canada's official positions on political and substantive issues before the Arctic Council and development of Canadian initiatives and project proposals to be tabled at the Arctic Council for approval and action.

CIRNAC also provides Canadian subject matter expertise to international programs, such as the:

CIRNAC works to advance these shared interests by:

Bilateral relationships

As the line-department responsible for northern development, CIRNAC has a long-standing track record of contributing towards Canada’s bilateral cooperation with Arctic neighbours such as the Russian Federation, Norway and the United States. This cooperation is guided by the international dimension of Canada’s Arctic Northern Policy Framework. The activities are normally negotiated in close consultation with Global Affairs Canada and are aimed to strengthen bilateral ties. This engagement ensures that Indigenous peoples and Northerners are well positioned to take advantage of international economic opportunities, while broadening the economic and socio-cultural development of the North.

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