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Northern premiers wrap up annual meeting in Inuvik

The premiers also met with local Indigenous leaders. From left to right: Ken Kyikavichik, Gwich'in Tribal Council grand chief; Ranj Pillai, Yukon premier; Caroline Cochrane, N.W.T. premier; P.J. Akeeagok, Nunavut premier; and Duane Ningaqsiq Smith, Inuvialuit Regional Corporation chair and CEO.  (Caroline Cochrane/Facebook - image credit)
The premiers also met with local Indigenous leaders. From left to right: Ken Kyikavichik, Gwich'in Tribal Council grand chief; Ranj Pillai, Yukon premier; Caroline Cochrane, N.W.T. premier; P.J. Akeeagok, Nunavut premier; and Duane Ningaqsiq Smith, Inuvialuit Regional Corporation chair and CEO. (Caroline Cochrane/Facebook - image credit)

Ranji Pillai, Caroline Cochrane and P.J. Akeeagok met over Tuesday and Wednesday this week in Inuvik to discuss several topics of "mutual concern," ranging from Arctic security to climate change, housing and health care.

It was the first time the three premiers have met outside of a capital city since 2011.

In the midst of an out-of-control wildfire south of Great Slave Lake, Cochrane, premier of the N.W.T.  gave a stern reminder that climate change is already happening.

"It is no longer acceptable to just be talking, we need action now," she said. "We have an obligation, not only as individual jurisdictions: this is a world wide crisis."

Both the Yukon and Nunavut governments reportedly donated $25,000 to the wildfire recovery fund set up by United Way NWT.

Pillai, Yukon's premier, heard issues with his territory's portion of the Dempster Highway.

The road has been criticized by trucking companies, tourists and locals in the past for its overall condition.

"The commitment from us is that I'm going back to the table with my team and my highways minister," he said.

He added that his government would work more closely with the N.W.T. and local Indigenous governments "for a functional long-term plan."

Caroline Cochrane/Facebook
Caroline Cochrane/Facebook

Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok will take over duties as chair next year.

The meeting, which lasted Tuesday and Wednesday, also featured a cultural showcase of the Beaufort Delta.

In a social media post, the Town of Inuvik said it is "always proud to showcase our local people, artisans, music, food, culture and hospitality."