Inuit_conf_mapFounded in 1977 by the late Eben Hopson of Barrow, Alaska, the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) has flourished and grown into a major international non-government organization representing approximately 155,000 Inuit of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Chukotka (Russia). The organization holds Consultative Status II at the United Nations Economic and Social Council and is a Permanent Participant at the Arctic Council.

To thrive in their Circumpolar homeland, Inuit had the vision to realize they must speak with a united voice on issues of common concern and combine their energies and talents towards protecting and promoting their way of life. The principal goals of ICC are, therefore, to

  • Strengthen unity among Inuit of the circumpolar region;
  • Promote Inuit rights and interests on an international level;
  • Develop and encourage long-term policies that safeguard the Arctic environment; and
  • Seek full and active partnership in the political, economic, and social development of circumpolar regions.

ICC holds a General Assembly every four years at which Inuit delegates from across the Circumpolar region elect a new Chair and an Executive Council, develop policies, and adopt resolutions that will guide the activities of the organization for the coming term. The General Assembly is the heart of the organization, providing an opportunity for sharing information, discussing common concerns, debating issues, and strengthening the bonds between all Inuit.
The ICC international office is housed with the Chair and each member country maintains a national office under the political guidance of a President.

In 2017, ICC celebrated its 40th anniversary and produced a short video reflecting on and celebrating the 40 years history of the organization.

Click here to view the video.

History and Beginnings of the Organization

In 1973, several Greenlandic organizations based in Copenhagen hosted the first Arctic Peoples Conference. They invited members of the then Inuit Tapirisat of Canada (now known as Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami), the National Indian Brotherhood of Canada, and Saami from northern Finland, Norway and Sweden. Because neither Alaskan nor Russian Inuit were able to attend that event, the need for Inuit to meet as one indivisible people became clearly evident at that meeting.

Inuit visionaries such as Mayor Eben Hopson of the North Slope Borough, Alaska, were among those that never let go of the idea. When, in 1975, the World Council of Indigenous Peoples held its founding conference in Port Alberni, British Columbia, he had his special assistant, Billy Neakoq, deliver an invitation to a pan-Eskimo gathering to be held some time in the near future.

Planning, fundraising, and focused attention to this goal began in earnest. A grant submission made to an American foundation in 1975 contains the following statements: We Eskimo are an international community sharing common language, culture, and a common land along the Arctic coast of Siberia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland. Although not a nation-state, as a people, we do constitute a nation.

Inuit from Canada, Greenland, and Alaska discussed their common vision when Eben Hopson hosted the first ever the Inuit Circumpolar Conference in June of 1977.

At that historic and celebratory meeting, political resolutions were passed, poetry was read, and songs were sung. All 54 delegates (18 from each country) agreed to found an organization to carry on the task of working together on an international basis. The celebratory mood in 1977 was only dampened by the absence of Inuit from the former Soviet Union, whose arrival would have to wait several years.

ICC General Assembly

13th ICC General Assembly  “Inuit – The Arctic We Want”
2014 – Inuvik, Canada – 12th General Assembly

2010 – Nuuk, Greenland –  11th General Assembly : Sharing Life – Innoqatigiineeq

2006 – Barrow, Alaska – 10th General Assembly : Unity Within Diversity

2002 – Kuujjuaq, Quebec – 9th General Assembly: Inuit Voice – Enlightening the World

1998 – Nuuk, Greenland – 8th General Assembly: Inuit Spirit for Global Partnership

Bill Edmunds Award

The Bill Edmunds Award is the highest award ICC presents to an Inuk during its General Assemblies. This award was established by ICC to honor those individuals who have made a selfless contribution to the promotion of Inuit rights and interests, with a particular focus on international endeavors.

Bill Edmund’s Award recipients:

  • Eben Hopson Sr., Alaska 1986
  • Dalee Sambo, Alaska 1989
  • Rose Marie Kuptana, Canada 1992
  • Andy Carpenter, Canada 1995
  • Robert Petersen, Greenland 1995
  • Ludmila Ainana, Chukotka 1998
  • Aqqaluk Lynge, Greenland 2002
  • Josie Kusugak, Canada 2006
  • Mary May Simon 2010
  • Carl Chr. Puju Olsen 2014

Chair’s Office

At each General Assembly, delegates elect a Chair to serve a four-year term. The Chair rotates among Canada, Alaska, and Greenland.

okalik photo(Josie) Okalik Eegeesiak was elected Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) in July 2014. ICC represents the international interests of Inuit in Canada, Greenland, Chukotka (Russia) and Alaska (USA).

Ms. Eegeesiak was President of Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA) from 2008-2014. QIA represents approximately 14,000 Inuit in 13 communities of the Qikiqtani Region. QIA’s mandate includes to protect, preserve, and promote Inuit rights, interests, and aspirations.

Prior to taking over the presidency of the QIA, Eegeesiak was self-employed focusing on human resource and community development. Her background includes representing the Inuit community in various capacities through government and non-government organizations at the international, national, territorial and community level through boards and committees, such as:

  • Appointed Chair of Nunasi Corporation in 2013. NC is an Inuit-company owned by the three Regional Inuit Associations and Development Corporations in Nunavut.
  • Appointed Chair of Larga Baffin. Larga is a medical boarding home for Inuit sent to Ottawa, Ontario.
  • Chair of the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation from 2007 to 2010 that produces Inuktitut television programming for Inuit by Inuit;
  • Appointed to the Nunavut Planning Commission in October 2009 –2012 – an Institution of Public Government/Co-Management Board created under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement to develop and manage the Nunavut Land Use Plan;
  • President of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami from 1996 to 1999 representing, nationally, Inuit rights, interests and aspirations;
  • Vice-President of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference Canada from 1996 to 1999 representing, internationally, Inuit rights, interests and aspirations;
  • Appointed federal member of the National Pathways Structural Review which recommended and led to enhanced partnerships between aboriginal peoples and the federal government in human resource programs and services; and
  • Community, territorial, and national Inuit representative to the National Aboriginal Management Board advocating for community needs and priorities in training and employment

Ms. Eegeesiak is fluent in written and oral Inuktitut, and was born, raised, and schooled in Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut. Okalik attended post-secondary institutions such as Nunavut Arctic College and McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. She has one daughter and two grandchildren. She is the oldest of ten with five sisters and four brothers and her mother, Seemeega, an active member of the elders centre in Iqaluit.

Executive Council

The Executive Council is made up of the Chair, 1 Vice-Chair and 1 Member from each country (Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Chukotka). The Council is elected by their respective country delegation at the General Assembly to serve a four year term. The Council is responsible for providing direction to the ICC offices and implementing the Declaration mandates as directed by the delegates.

2014-2018 ICC Executive Council

2014-2018 ICC Executive Council

ICC Chair
Okalik Eegeesiak (Canada)

Jim Stotts, Vice Chair
Vera Metcalf, Member

Hjalmer Dahl, Vice Chair
Nuka Kleemann, Member

Nancy Karetak-Lindell, Vice Chair
Herb Nakimayak, Member

Tatiana Achirgina, Vice Chair
Elena Kaminskaya, Member