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The polar bear, or Nanook in Inuit, is king of the Arctic.

Ralph Lee Hopkins

Hundreds of Inuit from across the circumpolar world are meeting in Inuvik to discuss a unified front on everything from wildlife management to economic development.

Duane Smith, who leads a group representing Inuit from Russia, the U.S., Canada, Greenland and Scandinavia, says his people need to start sharing information between themselves to cope with a changing Arctic.

He says northern animals from polar bears to whales regularly cross international borders and Inuit must develop management plans that recognize that.

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Smith adds the same is true of getting the most local benefits out of industry activity in the North.

About 600 people have gathered in the Northwest Territories for the Inuit Circumpolar Conference meeting — so many that some are staying on a converted barge and others are billeted in a work camp.

It's the first time in 12 years that the conference has been held in Canada.

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