A faded, wind-torn Danish flag is mounted on the wall in the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Raised on Hans Island by Danish troops, the flag was later taken down by Canadian soldiers — and mailed back to Copenhagen.
Negotiators are now confident that Canada and Denmark will resolve their dispute over Hans Island, and sooner rather than later.
Relations between the two countries have grown irritable at times in recent years because of their competing claims to the barren bit of rock perched halfway between Ellesmere Island and Greenland. Also in dispute is a patch of the Lincoln Sea even farther north.
But the two countries are in negotiations and have embarked on a joint mapping exercise, and both Canadian and Danish officials, speaking on background, said they were confident of reaching an agreement before Canada deposits its claim over the Arctic seabed to the United Nations in 2013.
Shared jurisdiction of the island is one possibility; another is running the border down the middle of the uninhabited, 1.3-square-kilometre knoll, which would give Canada a land border with Denmark.
Members of the Canadian Forces during a visit to Hans Island in July 2005. Photograph by: Handout/DND
John Ivison, National Post, November 9, 2010
OTTAWA — Canada is likely to have a second land border in the near future — this time with a European country. The 37-year dispute with Denmark over Hans Island, a small, uninhabited knoll located between Ellesmere Island and northern Greenland, is close to being concluded, according to the Danish Defence Minister.
Unique sovereignty exercise aims to showcase co-operation, practise rescue and advance science
Patrick White, Globe and Mail, March 4, 2010 (with a report from The Canadian Press)
Two teams of Danish army pooches will mush alongside a large Canadian military operation in the Arctic next month, marking a thaw in relations between two countries often seen as rivals in the rush for Arctic spoils.
About 180 Canadian Forces members will participate in Operation Nunalivut, the latest exercise in a continuing campaign to assert the country's political and military presence in the High Arctic - an effort that falls short of what's needed to ward off territorial claims from other countries, some Arctic experts say.
Canada's Arctic policy seems to be shifting to include diplomacy, which will accomplish much more than building ships and bases
Michael Byers, Ottawa Citizen, October 27, 2009
Canada's Arctic policy has taken a promising new tack. In early September, lawyers from the foreign ministries of the five Arctic Ocean coastal states met for negotiations. On the table was a proposal to co-ordinate claims to the Arctic seabed, essentially divvying up the ocean floor between Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States.
A Canadian-Danish resolution on Hans Island could be 'a way of getting the ball rolling' on other northern ownership disputes
Globe and Mail, September 8, 2009
The first and only time George Hobson set foot on Hans Island was 36 years ago.
Mr. Hobson, then head of the Polar Continental Shelf Project, a federal Arctic research program, flew more than two hours by Twin Otter to the rocky outcrop from Resolute Bay after receiving an urgent phone call from Ottawa.
The caller was former prime minister Jean Chrétien, who was then federal minister of Indian and northern affairs.
Canada's new Northern Strategy is mostly made up of old ideas that have gone nowhere
Michael Byers, Ottawa Citizen, August 5, 2009
Glenn Gould called it The Idea of North. Conceptions of sovereignty are often wrapped up in national identities, and nowhere is this more true than with Canada's Arctic. For many Canadians, when the United States claims an unfettered right to use the Northwest Passage, it is like a wealthy neighbour claiming the right to tramp through our living room.
Letter to the Editor, Ottawa Citizen, July 28, 2005
Canada and Denmark are neighbours in the North, allies in NATO and the UN working
closely together for peace and democracy in challenging spots like Afghanistan,
the Middle East and Sudan. Indeed close friends in relations across the board.
Canadians of Danish origin are numerous. Cultural and commercial exchanges
flourish between us.
In the North the inuit populations of
Greenland and Canada have communicated during centuries. Their oral languages
are nearly identical. In order to emphasise the relationship and facilitate
even closer cooperation in the future Denmark is in the final phase of opening
an honorary consulate in Iqaluit, making Denmark the first country to be
represented on the spot in Nunavut.
As in every real substantive friendship
there are also tiny irritants like the territorial belonging of Hans Island.
Issues to be dealt with deftly to strengthen the friendship.
Modern mapping technology has pinpointed a new wrinkle in Canada's dispute with Denmark over tiny Hans Island.
After reviewing the latest satellite imagery, federal officials
concede the international boundary line runs roughly through the middle
of the island in Arctic waters, not east of the rocky outcrop as
previously believed, memos obtained by the Canadian Press reveal. ...