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Arctic Imperative

The Canadian Arctic has been an abiding interest of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society since its creation in 1929. For Dr. Shelagh Grant, RCGS Fellow, the Arctic has been the focus of her teaching and research over the course of her career. Her landmark work, Polar Imperative: A History of Arctic Sovereignty in North America (Douglas & McIntyre, 2010) is a comprehensive and authoritative survey of the region. The book merited the recognition it so justly received such as the Lionel Gelber Prize for best English language book on global affairs.

With the generous support of Dr. Grant, Canadian Geographic Education created this resource, Arctic Imperative: Education Resources for Canadian Schools, to help secondary school teachers and students to explore the Arctic through the lenses of identity, sovereignty, climate change and governance. Each lesson contains a passage from Grant’s Polar Imperative as well as maps and other primary and secondary source materials.

Mapping the Arctic: An Introduction to Arctic Issues
Students will recognize geographic location as a key factor in understanding the importance of Arctic sovereignty issues and identify the natural and human geographical features of the Arctic on various maps.

People of the Arctic
In this activity, students will appreciate the length of time that the Inuit have occupied Arctic North America and the role they have played in maintaining Canada’s Arctic sovereignty as well as gain an understanding of the difference between voluntary migration, subjugation, forced relocation and self-government.

The Northwest Passage and National Identity
After identifying the location of transit routes through the Northwest Passage, students will appreciate the variety of perceptions about the Arctic and Northwest Passage and make connections to Canada’s national identity.

Resource Development and Arctic Sovereignty
Students will understand the connection between resource development, climate change and sovereignty and then design a compelling advertising campaign to convince others of the economic, social and environmental benefits of this resource.

Climate Change and the Arctic
This activity asks students to identify patterns and trends in Arctic sea ice extent from maps and satellite imagery and then make predictions about the future extent of sea ice changes in the Arctic.

Contemporary Sovereignty Issues: Arctic Council Simulation
Students will research the perspective of a Member State or Permanent Participant of the Arctic Council, propose priorities for the management and development of the Arctic region in a simulated meeting of the Arctic Council while considering social, political, economic and environmental priorities.

Polar Imperative Lessons (click to download)

  1. Mapping the Arctic: An Introduction to Arctic Issue
  2. People of the Arctic
  3. The Northwest Passage and National Identity
  4. Resource Development and Arctic Sovereignty
  5. Climate Change and the Arctic
  6. Contemporary Sovereignty Issues: Arctic Council Simulation
  7. Glossary

• Or, you may download all the lessons in one PDF


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