Visit to Circumpolar Countries
Quest for the Modern North
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Since 1926 governors general have represented Canada and furthered Canadian interests abroad through state visits. The
Governor General is invited by many countries to make tours, as a mark of friendship, respect and interest in our country.
There have been more than 40 state visits undertaken by governors general of Canada to enhance Canada’s place in today’s
world and to support the objectives of the Canadian government.
From September 23 to October 15, 2003, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada
and His Excellency John Ralston Saul led a delegation of distinguished Canadians to three countries of the circumpolar north.
At the invitation of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, the northern tour began with a State Visit
to the Russian Federation followed by a State Visit to Finland at the invitation of the President of Finland, Tarja Halonen,
and a State Visit to Iceland, at the invitation of the President of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson.
The visit was undertaken to demonstrate Canada’s strong commitment to sustainable development of the North and to
international cooperation among circumpolar nations. It presented a contemporary view of Canada internationally through
the arts, science, education and the environment, and elevated the importance of key circumpolar themes and issues in Canada
and in the countries visited.
This visit was in conjunction with the government of Canada’s June 2000 foreign policy initiative to address the
challenges and opportunities brought on by new trends and developments in the circumpolar north that directly affect Canada’s
interests. The Northern Dimension of Canada’s Foreign Policy works to:
- enhance the security and prosperity of northerners and Aboriginal peoples
- preserve Canada’s sovereignty in the North
- establish the circumpolar region as a vibrant geopolitical entity integrated into a rules-based international system
- promote the human security of northerners and the sustainable development of the Arctic. This includes environmental
issues and their impact on the health and vitality of the people, lands, waters and animal life of the North.
To ensure a meaningful exchange of information with experts in each of the fields, a program of round table and panel
discussions was developed to address issues of mutual interest such as:
- the environment
- sustainable development of the oceans
- new forms of energy production
- cultural exchange and promotion
- communication and provision of services in remote northern communities
- the essential role of education in the North, including the preservation of Aboriginal languages.