Some of the largest natural resource projects in all of North America are now sprouting up in the North and eastern Arctic with major companies taking risks alongside northerners. Together, companies and communities are reaping incredible rewards. Labrador's Muskrat Falls project has accelerated the completion of a paved highway and fibre optic line from Goose Bay to Labrador City.
Arctic Defenders, my 20th film is about the creation of Nunavut. The film demonstrates that political engagement was necessary to protect Inuit rights. It is told from the point of view of the visionary Inuit leaders, Tagak Curley and John Amagoalik and others who dedicated their lives to protecting the language, culture and environment of their homeland -- the Canadian Arctic.
Another jail opened in Nunavut last week. It is long overdue -- the existing facility in Iqaluit, Baffin Correctional Centre is, as Justice Mahar of the Nunavut Court of Justice recently said, "notoriously over crowded and under resourced." And yet a rather bland factual news story about the opening of the new prison in Rankin was met with a flood of angry comments about over pampered prisoners, club fed hotels and similar complaints.
Today Aariak is both Premier and Education Minister for Nunavut, and she is building an education system that combines the skills young people need to work in the 21st Century with a solid grounding in their language, culture and the traditional skills that even today are necessary for life in Canada's far north.
We gazed out across seemingly endless kilometres of empty Arctic landscape. It's a vista that one Canadian in a thousand might ever witness, yet we were out on the tundra with a Canadian Ranger and His Royal Highness The Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex. Everyone we met seemed simply pleased the royals chose, of all the places, to fly to the top of the world and meet with them.
This month I visited the northernmost region in my riding, Nunavik, and met with people from all walks of life there. Trips like those give you a real reality check that some politicians go out of their way to avoid. Last week the Prime Minister had a chance to begin listening to the people of the North, but instead he stayed inside his bubble. Clearly, this is work that Conservatives cannot properly do.
Stephen Harper talks of Northern sovereignty but demonstrates a purely militaristic approach, with the recent addition of a little nod to resource extraction. At no time has the prime minister acknowledged that an essential ingredient to our sovereignty is sustainable and liveable communities in the North.