'Week of the Arctic': Cultural Celebrations to Complement Alaska Arctic Council Ministerial

Feb 3, 2017

A celebration of Arctic cultures …

Planning and preparations continue here in Alaska for the big Arctic Council ministerial meeting this spring in Fairbanks – as well as a series of cultural and educational events to be held in conjunction with the ministerial collectively called the Week of the Arctic.

“The U.S. will convene the final act of its chairmanship of the Arctic Council in Fairbanks, May 10th and 11th,” says Nils Andreassen, executive director of the Institute of the North. The Anchorage-based think tank will serve as secretariat for the Alaska Arctic Council Host Committee. Gov. Bill Walker created the committee in 2015 to help arrange Arctic Council-related events in Alaska during the United States’ two-year chairmanship, which wraps up at the end of this ministerial.

The Arctic Council's flag and those of the eight member nations, at left, posted with flags of six Arctic indigenous peoples, right, who are represented by the council's Permanent Participants.
Credit Arctic Council

“The eight foreign ministers and numerous other dignitaries and delegations from around the Arctic – and around the world, really – will participate in the closed session that’ll be live-streamed of the Arctic Council,” Andreassen said.

The ministerial events mainly will be formal, diplomatic affairs that for the most part will be closed to the public. After the ministerial, he says the host committee is scheduling many other events to be held as part of the North by North celebration of the Arctic to showcase the cultures of the eight council member nations.

Arctic indigenous performers at a 2013 meeting of Arctic Council working groups in Kiruna, Sweden, in a lead-up event to the 2013 ministerial, when Sweden relinquished the council chairmanship to Canada. In May, the United States will hand over the chair's gavel to Finland.
Credit Arctic Council

“Dance and performance, arts, crafts, film, music and many other elements that really are expressions of both urban and rural or remote Arctic communities,” he said.

Many of the cultural and educational programs will focus on the region’s indigenous cultures. Andreassen says North by North will also feature more nontraditional forms of cultural expression.

“We’ll see Arctic deejays performing, and filmmakers from each of the eight Arctic nations engaging in a cultivated conversation,” he said. “We’ll have Arctic chefs, indigenous chefs and otherwise, in both Anchorage and Fairbanks.”

Planning is ongoing, but you can check out the events already scheduled by going online to akarctichost.org, the host committee’s home page.