Northern and Arctic Security and Sovereignty: Challenges and Opportunities for a Northern Corridor


  • P. Whitney Lackenbauer Trent University
  • Katharina Koch



Key Messages

  • Key issues related to Canada’s security and defence agenda, which involve critical and essential infrastructure development, must be considered in the development and implementation of a Canadian Northern Corridor (CNC).

  • Canada’s northern and Arctic security and defence agenda is related to several key policy domains that are relevant from a CNC perspective. These include infrastructure development, climate change, Indigenous sovereignty and natural resource development.

  • A CNC will gain international attention and be internationally recognized as a strategy for Canada to assert its sovereignty over its Arctic territory, including the internationally disputed Northwest Passage.

  • The CNC advocates for the inclusion and participation of Indigenous communities. Thus, Indigenous Peoples will also carry a significant role in the monitoring and surveillance of accessibility within and to the North, improved through enhanced infrastructure development.

  • Canada’s investments in Arctic defence infrastructure are modest compared
    to those of its Russian and American neighbours. A CNC, potentially adding strategically important infrastructure in the Canadian North, will directly tie into the discourse of Arctic security and power relations.

  • In addition to natural disasters, the Canadian North is at significant risk of human-made disasters that pose serious prospective challenges for northerners and for federal and territorial governments. The CNC will likely foster the development of surveillance and monitoring assets.

  • The CNC rights-of-way could trigger security concerns regarding the impact
    of foreign investment as a security threat, especially if natural resource development is coupled with the development of strategic transportation hubs, such as ports along the coast of the Arctic Ocean.

  • CNC transportation infrastructure would also become a part of Canada’s defence strategy as it forms a potential key asset in the defence and safeguarding of Canada’s northern and Arctic regions.

  • Future research should identify the role of dual-use infrastructure (infrastructure that satisfies both military and civilian purposes) in the CNC context and also examine to what extent security and defence stakeholders should be involved in the CNC’s planning and implementation.

Author Biography

P. Whitney Lackenbauer, Trent University

Whitney is Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in the Study of the Canadian North and a Professor in the School for the Study of Canada at Trent University, Ontario, Canada.






Research Papers