Nunavut, Sovereignty, and the Future for Arctic Peoples’ Involvement in Regional Self-Determination

  • Heather Nicol Trent University


Climate change and a renewed attention to the Canadian Arctic have refocused considerable attention upon resources, Indigenous peoples, and sovereignty. Similarly, the linked aspirations for Indigenous sovereignty and self- determination have facilitated the negotiation of a number of self-governance agreements within the region, but these ultimately reference a narrow understanding of sovereignty. The definitions of sovereignty they enshrine do not simply reflect a hierarchical set of power arrangements embedding Indigenous peoples within a larger state, but they actively contribute to the reality of asymmetrical power and influence. This is because they advance an understanding of sovereignty that remains embedded within normative understandings of state, perpetuating state and only state as the major point of reference. This article argues that sovereignty, if it is to retain its saliency as a contemporary concept,  must be reimagined as something more compatible with global developments concerning human rights, Indigenous rights, and self-determination.

Author Biography

Heather Nicol, Trent University
Heather Nicol is a professor in the Department of Geography at Trent University
How to Cite
NICOL, Heather. Nunavut, Sovereignty, and the Future for Arctic Peoples’ Involvement in Regional Self-Determination. Northern Review, [S.l.], n. 37, may 2014. ISSN 1929-6657. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 16 july 2019.
Special Collection: The Arctic Council, the EU and Polar Politics