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April 21, 2020

Our greatest resource, and top priority, is the people who live in Arctic communities; their health, safety, and well-being are paramount. We will not take any actions that would risk spreading COVID-19 to participants or community members welcoming the ARENA cohort.

The in-person sessions of ARENA are the highlight of the program, and we are working to reschedule the Canadian on-site which was originally planned for May 2020. We intend to keep the location – Nunavut – the same, and are looking at two options:

  1. September 2020: if the COVID-19 pandemic is under control and travel restrictions are lifted, we will convene in September. This is early enough to mitigate winter storms impacting travel, and we will travel across the territory for community visits. This would be the first on-site for the cohort.
  2. May 2021: the Canadian session would be rescheduled to after the Iceland and Alaska on-site sessions and be the final on-site.

Additionally, we have decided to postpone the Alaska on-site originally scheduled for July 2020. We made this decision in recognition of COVID-19-related complications, particularly the strong likelihood that in July, travel restrictions may still be in place and that holding the workshop then could place undue strain, pressure, and risk on remote communities and participants. The planning committee is tentatively planning on March 2021 for the reschedule of the Alaska on-site. 

While we hope that we will be able to begin our program in-person in September, it is hard to know whether COVID-19 will still be impacting travel and what, if any, restrictions will be in place. The safety and well-being of communities and people are our top priorities, and we will monitor updates in the coming month with a plan to decide in June on whether a September on-site is feasible. In the meantime, we are working on bringing the cohort together in other ways and looking very much forward to when we can meet in person.

We are committed to delivering ARENA, and the in-person networking, mentoring, and community site visits are integral elements of the program. We will be working over the coming months to identify options and a revised delivery schedule.

ARENA is about effectively achieving balance between economic viability, energy security, environmental and public health concerns in the circumpolar Arctic region. COVID-19 is already demonstrating that we need to not only protect those in small and remote communities but ensure there are the necessary supports and infrastructure in place. Renewable and secure energy options are a part of sustained improvements and we look forward to sharing the ARENA cohort, projects, and news in coming months.

We thank everyone for their patience and support.

Mahsi’, thank you.

ARENA Project leads