Inuit Circumpolar Conference Begins
July 10, 2006
The five-day general assembly featuring Inuit leaders and some of the circumpolar world's leading minds is christened "Inuit Unity Within Diversity" and includes debates and lectures on topics ranging from global warming and pollution to whaling and protecting the Arctic Ocean.
"There is one major concern that unifies all the people of the Arctic," Murkowski said. "The cold. Yet that is not the only concern. We also know the Arctic is rich in energy resources, which we use to heat homes and fuel boats and snow machines for subsistence. But the price and demand for fuels are rising faster than we can put oil in the pipeline."
The governor highlighted the state's role in making sure rural Alaskans have the same training and education opportunities as urban Alaskans when the gas pipeline project moves forward.
"I have directed my gas team and the Department of Labor to make sure we are training people who live in rural Alaska for the full spectrum of jobs we can expect from the gas pipeline," Murkowski said. "The training is underway. We will work with you to make sure that the training provides pipeline jobs to those here in Barrow and throughout rural Alaska."
Finishing his speech with a primer of the ICC's General Assembly agenda, the governor related the importance of working together to solve problems with coastal erosion, rising sea levels, shrinking glaciers and whaling schedules disrupted by earlier annual migration.
"These are uniquely northern challenges that we can overcome through unifying our northern experiences," Murkowski said. "Local people should stand strong.
"Alaska has common interests with every region, community and lifestyle represented in the Inuit Circumpolar Conference: high energy costs, jobs and prosperity, cherished and traditional rural lifestyles and a need to make sure we can sustain these unique ways of life."
The governor also laid out the state's plan to get lower-cost propane and butane to rural and western Alaska by using one of the four proposed off-take points in the natural gas contract by building a liquefied natural gas plant and barging throughout the Yukon and Kuskokwim river systems.
Greenland Premier Hans Enoksen, Chukotka, Russia Governor Roman Abramovich and Canadian Ambassabor Jack Anawak joined governor Murkowski at the opening cermony, while both of Alaska's U.S. Senators, Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski, joined by satellite.
AT&T Alascom is providing an in-kind donation of high-speed internet access to facilitate a webcast of the 2006 Inuit Circumpolar Conference in Barrow July 10-14, and sending representatives to sessions dealing with healthcare, education and training.
The ICC was founded in 1977 as a way to unite Inuit leaders in Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Russia to address common concerns and preserve Inuit cultural heritage. The first ICC assembly was held in 1980 and gatherings are now held once every four years.
The five-day conference now moves into debates, lectures and discussions with scientists, climatologists, geologists and Inuit and world leaders on agenda items ranging from United Nations resolutions that recognize the rights of indigenous peoples and UN trade support, to whaling rights and opening the polar sea to trade.
This year's agenda includes sessions on a variety of topics, including Arctic climate change, whaling, resource development, healthy lifestyles and education.
For more information on the ICC or the 2006 agenda, visit www.iccalaska.org.
Publish A Letter on SitNews Read Letters/Opinions