Governor General of Canada

Governor General of Canada

April 30, 2009 12:04 ET

The Governor General Visits Northern Peoples in Tromso

TROMSO, NORWAY--(Marketwire - April 30, 2009) - On the final day of the State visit to the Kingdom of Norway, Their Excellencies the Right Honourable Michaelle Jean, Governor General of Canada, and Mr. Jean-Daniel Lafond travelled to Tromso, the largest city north of the Arctic Circle.

The Governor General delivered a speech on the occasion of a ministerial luncheon hosted by Ms. Helga Pedersen, Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs of the Kingdom of Norway in the presence Their Majesties King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway, territorial premiers and representatives who took part in the biennial ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council. The speech focused on the strong ties between Canadian and Norwegian researchers. The speech is provided below.

The Governor General then took part in a discussion with the leaders of the Sami community, the Aboriginal people living in northern Norway, on the realities and aspirations of Canadian and Norwegian northern peoples. This discussion was held at the Centre for Sami Studies, a unique Indigenous studies program at the University of Tromso.

Canada and Norway's shared responsibility in the North

I consider it a great privilege to be here in Tromso, the largest city north of the Arctic Circle.

Canada and Norway work together closely on the Arctic Council, which was created in 1996, in Ottawa, to promote circumpolar co-operation. It is an exceptional discussion forum for Arctic neighbour-countries and Aboriginal organizations representing people who have lived in this region for thousands of years.

The objective is to ensure a fair balance between developing resources and protecting the environment, and the development of northern peoples.

It is essential that people in the North have access to all of the tools they need to manage their own resources effectively and to preserve their cultures, languages and knowledge, which are an irreplaceable treasure for all of humanity.

In Canada, the territory of Nunavut-which covers two million square kilometres and represents twenty percent of our surface area-is this year celebrating the 10th anniversary of its creation and its exciting progress toward self-government.

It is a decisive date in Canada's recent history, and it gives me great pleasure to mark it here, in Norway, in an Arctic community, near the Sami people.

It goes without saying that the remarkable experience of the Sami people is of great interest to us, and we will have an opportunity to start a dialogue with Sami representatives.

For us, this openness to dialogue bodes well for the future and is the very foundation of all mutual enrichment through the sharing of points of view and knowledge.

In fact, sharing knowledge is one of the keys to the success of the partnerships between Canada and Norway, and, more specifically, between Tromso and Canada.

A number of Canadian researchers maintain rich and prolific collaborations with two exceptional institutions here, working in areas of common interest that are related to our northern geographic location.

I am referring to the Norwegian Polar Institute, the first of its kind in the world, renowned for its research on climate change and its Arctic cartography work. The co-operation between the Institute and several Canadian universities is especially noteworthy, including the joint study on changes in glaciers in the context of global warming.

I am also referring to the University of Tromso, which is the northernmost university in the world and part of the large University of the Arctic network, which includes 28 Canadian universities.

Exploring every dimension of the development of Arctic regions-from their cultural development to their economic prosperity-created a real community spirit among Canadian and Norwegian researchers.

A number of exchange programs and research projects have been established between the Centre for Sami Studies and several Canadian institutions. This extraordinary collaboration between Canada and these two leading Norwegian Arctic institutions demonstrates promising vitality.

The Arctic used to be considered inaccessible and hostile, a place with ice as severe as the fires of Dante's Inferno.

But we, Norwegians and Canadians, sisters and brothers of the North, have long known that nothing could be further from the truth and know how warm the Arctic peoples truly are.

Just as we know that the current infatuation brought on by the immense resource potential of these ancestral lands give us a responsibility in light of the future.

A responsibility to not greedily exhaust this still virgin expanse of its natural riches and to protect for future generations the cultures that have taken root here, cultures that must be allowed to perpetuate in a respectful and dignified manner.

I am certain it is a responsibility that neither Canada nor Norway takes lightly.

We are responsible for the spirit of these lands, lands like no other in the world.

The spirit of a land whose majesty is sometimes written in the sky, to borrow the beautiful image of Innu poet Rita Mestokosho, like the aurora borealis, which dances across the sky as if by magic.

Long live the friendship between Canada and Norway!


Audio and video versions of the speech delivered in Tromso, Norway by the Governor General will be available by end of business day today on the Rideau Hall FTP site.

The speeches, photos and videos from the State visits to Ukraine and the Kingdom of Norway will be available daily at www.gg.ca. Blogs written by Their Excellencies and the delegates will be posted on www.citizenvoices.gg.ca.

Media also have access to high-resolution images and video at ftp://rideauhall.ca (username: media; password: osgg).

Contact Information

  • Rideau Hall Press Office
    Media Information: Isabelle Serrurier
    613-998-7280
    iserrurier@gg.ca