A Circumpolar Perspective on Northern Development: Is Canada Falling Behind?


  • Carin Holroyd University of Saskatchewan




Northern Economic Development, Comparative Studies, Circumpolar North, Canadian North, Arctic


This article first published advance online January 31, 2024

This essay considers the state of the contemporary Circumpolar World and provides a general overview of the way the various circumpolar jurisdictions are addressing the challenges and opportunities of the twenty-first century.  It considers how northern areas are attracting the resources necessary to lessen the socio-economic divide between northern and southern/urban areas.  An overview of infrastructure, basic services, economic development, regional leadership, security, Indigenous governance, and plans for the future of the countries and regions that make up the Circumpolar North reveals significant strengths and challenges. This examination focuses, in particular, on where Canada sits in comparison to its northern neighbours, a perspective that does not always put Canada in the best light. In many respects, Canada’s efforts in the North lag—sometimes considerably—behind circumpolar norms (aside from Russia). National and sub-national governments in Canada have not always attracted the funding, commitment, and vision needed to capitalize on the political, technological, and economic resources needed to better serve the peoples of the North; in recent years, some Arctic regions have done much better than others.

Author Biography

Carin Holroyd, University of Saskatchewan

Associate Professor, Political Studies