Research Interests

I have varied research interests related to Arctic, northern and Indigenous politics. I have published in three main areas: (1) regional Arctic politics, with a focus on the Arctic Council; (2) northern and Indigenous development and governance; and (3) innovation for rural, remote and Indigenous development, in particular distributed/decentralized learning and telehealth applications. 

My PhD research focused on the regionalization processes in the Arctic since the end of the Cold War period, and the role that shared human and environmental security concerns played in these.  I chose this topic at a very opportune time as the field of Arctic politics has enjoyed a high level of media and government attention since 2007. This has led to many research and funding opportunities both nationally and internationally.  In particular I have developed a recognized expertise on the Arctic Council and regional Arctic politics. 

On a more human scale, it is well recognized that the Circumpolar North hosts a number of the most innovative decentralized governance arrangements in the world, particularly as relates to Indigenous peoples. The legal and institutional frameworks for these governance arrangements, though ever-evolving, has been relatively well documented.  I have strong research interests in the challenging progression from de jure to de facto self-determination, i.e. how do northern and Indigenous governments move from achieving the right to self-govern, to building the capacity to do so.  This question is both salient from a policy point of view and of enormous theoretical interest, in terms of how theories of development, human rights, and intergovernmental relations intersect. 

My professional work at the University of the Arctic, the International Centre for Northern Governance and Development, and the University of Saskatchewan College of Nursing have involved research as well as administration of more practical challenges such as improving the accessibility to university education for northern and Indigenous peoples; local workforce development; the challenges to adopting new technologies to address social challenges such as food insecurity and health care access; and assessing and communicating best practices and lessons learned in Indigenous and northern governance and economic development.

My current work for pro-development Indigenous groups  involves research on the benefits and models of resource development to promote economic self determination and prosperity for Indigenous communities. 

My scholarly publications are listed below.  You can find many of my articles available in full text and open access on my Research Gate profile:  

*Last updated January 2020


Reports and Working Papers


Saskatchewan First Nations Economic Development Network. (August 2019). Indigenous Engagement Employer Handbook. Saskatoon, SK.

Indian Resource Council, National Coalition of Chiefs and Aboriginal Equity Partners. (March 2019). An Assessment of the Negative Health, Social and Economic Effects of Bills C-48 and C-69: An Indigenous Response. Calgary, AB.

Exner-Pirot, Heather, Maria Ackren, Natalia Loukacheva, Heather Nicol, Annika Nilsson, and Jennifer Spence.  (February 2019). Form and Function: The Future of the Arctic Council. The Arctic Institute, Washington D.C.

Exner-Pirot, Heather (January 2018). Telehealth in Northern and Indigenous Communities

University of Saskatchewan: Saskatoon.

Exner-Pirot, Heather (January 2017). Analysis and Review of Canada’s Arctic Foreign Policy 

and Next Steps.  Commissioned by and submitted to Global Affairs Canada.

Exner-Pirot, Heather (August 2016). Summary Report: Roundtable on the Future of 

Canadian International Arctic Policy. Commissioned by and submitted to Global 

Affairs Canada.

Soonias, S., H. Exner-Pirot, M. Salat and A. Shah (April 2016). City of Bridges: First Nations 

and Métis Economic Development in Saskatoon & Region. SREDA: Saskatoon.

Exner-Pirot, Heather and Lorna Butler (2015). Healthy Foundations: Nursing’s Role in 

Building Strong Aboriginal Communities. Ottawa: Conference Board of Canada.

Lackenbauer, Whitney, Heather Exner-Pirot, Adam Lajeunesse and Jennifer Arthur-

Lackenbauer (March 2014). Enhancing Permanent Participant Capacity at the Arctic 

Council: Background Report and Options for Discussion. Commissioned by and submitted to Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development.

Coates, Ken, Greg Poelzer, Heather Exner-Pirot, Joe Garcea, Thierry Rodon, Rebecca Schiff, 

Graham White, and Gary Wilson (2014). The Role of the Public Sector in Northern Governance. Ottawa: Conference Board of Canada.

Huebert, Rob, Heather Exner-Pirot, Adam Lajeunesse and Jay Gulledge (2012). Climate 

Change and International Security: The Arctic as a Bellwether.  Arlington, Virginia: 

Centre for Climate and Energy Solutions.

Exner-Pirot, Heather (December 2012). “Guidelines for Establishing a Northern Greenhouse”, Saskatoon: International Centre for Northern Governance and Development.

Exner-Pirot, Heather and Jim Searson (June, 2012). “Establishing Self-Sufficiency…Together: Building a Saskatchewan First Nations Economic Development Network”.  Saskatoon: Office of the Treaty Commissioner.

Buhr, Nola, Joe Garcea, Greg Poelzer, Nadine Zettl and Dawn Gibbons and Heather Exner-Pirot (March, 2011).  “NMTA Needs Assessment: Building Administrative Capacity in Northern Saskatchewan’s Municipalities.”  Saskatoon: International Centre for Northern Governance and Development.

Working Papers

Exner-Pirot, Heather. (2015). Innovation in the Arctic: Squaring the Circle.  Arctic Summer 


Exner-Pirot, Heather and Joel Plouffe (Spring 2015). “The Pacific Northwest as an Emerging 

Arctic Region”. Border Policy Research Institute, Bellingham WA: Western Washington University, 10(2).

Exner-Pirot, Heather (June 2012). “Human Security in the Arctic: The Foundation of Regional Cooperation”.  Working Papers on Arctic Security No. 1, Toronto: Munk-Gordon Arctic Security Program.


Articles, Book Chapters, Edited Volumes and Conference Presentations

Journal Articles

Exner-Pirot, Heather (2018). “Friend or Faux: Trudeau, Indigenous Issues and Canada’s Brand.” in Canadian Foreign Policy Journal 24(2), pp. 165-181. 

Norbye, Bente, Lorna Butler and Heather Exner-Pirot (2018) “Under the Same Sky: Connecting Students and Cultures through Circumpolar Nursing Education” in Healthcare, 6(50). 

Exner-Pirot, Heather and Robert Murray (2017). “Regional Order in the Arctic: Negotiated Exceptionalism” in Politik 20(3) pp. 47-64.

Exner-Pirot, Heather (2016). Guest Editor, “Special Collection on Nursing Education in the Circumpolar North”.  Northern Review (43). 

Exner-Pirot, Heather (2016). “Canada’s Arctic Council Chairmanship (2013-2015): A Post-Mortem” in Canadian Foreign Policy Journal, 22(1), pp. 84-96.

Exner-Pirot, Heather (2013). ”What is the Arctic a Case Of? The Arctic as a Regional Environmental Security Complex and the Implications for Policy”, Polar Journal,  3(1), pp. 120-35.

Exner-Pirot, Heather (Summer 2012). “Defense Diplomacy in the Arctic: The Search and Rescue Agreement as a Confidence Builder”, Canadian Journal of Foreign Policy, 18(2), pp. 195-207.

Exner-Pirot, Heather (Spring 2011). “Canadian Leadership in the Circumpolar World: An Agenda for the Arctic Council Chairmanship 2013–2015”, Northern Review 33, pp. 7- 27.

Books and Book Chapters

Exner-Pirot, Heather (2020). “The Arctic in International Affairs” in Ken Coates and Carin Holroyd (eds.). Palgrave Handbook of Arctic Policy. Palgrave. 

Exner-Pirot, Heather (2019). "Canada’s Northern Economic Development Paradigm and Its Failures" in John Higginbotham and Jennifer Spence (eds.), Canada's Arctic Agenda: Into the Arctic Vortex. CIGI: Ottawa.

Heininen, Lassi and Heather Exner-Pirot (eds.) (2019). Climate Change and Arctic Security: Searching for a Paradigm Shift. Springer Nature. 

Exner-Pirot, Heather (2019). “Indigenous Issues and Arctic Sovereignty” in Jean-Christophe Boucher, PG Forest and Louis Belanger (eds.) Canadian Sovereignty Issues. (Special  Volume for Royal Canadian Armed Forces).  Accepted.  

Exner-Pirot, Heather (2018). “Development or Bust: The Canadian Arctic Council Chairmanship 2013-15” in Douglas C. Nord (ed.) Leadership for the North. Springer. 

Heininen, Lassi, and Heather Exner-Pirot (eds.) (2018). Arctic Development: In Theory and In Practice - Arctic Yearbook 2018. Akureyri: Northern Research Forum.

Exner-Pirot, Heather, Bente Norbye and Lorna Butler (eds.)(2018). Northern & Indigenous Health and Health Care.  Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: University of Saskatchewan. Available from:

Exner-Pirot, Heather(2018). “Challenges to Telehealth Implementation” in Exner-Pirot, Heather, Bente Norbye and Lorna Butler (eds.) (2018). Northern and Indigenous Health and Health Care. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: University of Saskatchewan.   Available from:, pp. 209-216.

Heininen, Lassi, Heather Exner-Pirot and Joel Plouffe (eds.) (2017).  Change and Innovation- Arctic Yearbook 2017. Akureyri: Northern Research Forum.

Exner-Pirot, Heather (2017). “The Arctic as a Region of Innovation” in Brendan O’Donnell, Max Gruenig and Arne Riedel (eds.) Arctic Summer College Yearbook. Springer: USA,   pp. 21-31. 

Heininen, Lassi, Heather Exner-Pirot and Joel Plouffe (eds.) (2016). The Arctic Council: 20 Years of Regional Cooperation and Policy-Shaping - Arctic Yearbook 2016. Akureyri: Northern Research Forum.

Exner-Pirot, Heather (2016). “Beyond the Arctic Council: Cooperation Needs and Gaps in the Arctic Region” in J. Spence, and J. Higginbotham (eds), North of 60: Toward a Renewed Canadian Arctic Agenda.  Ottawa: CIGI Press, pp. 51-56.

Exner-Pirot, Heather (2016). “Economic Security in the Canadian Arctic” in Understanding the Many faces of Human Security: Perspectives of Northern Indigenous Peoples. Kamrul Hossain and Anna Petretei (eds). Netherlands: Brill Academic Publishers, pp. 74-89.

Heininen, Lassi, Heather Exner-Pirot and Joel Plouffe (eds.) (2015).  Governance and Governing in the Arctic: Arctic Yearbook 2015. Akureyri: Northern Research Forum.

Exner-Pirot, Heather (2015). “Whose Arctic is It?” in State of the World 2015.  Tom Prugh (ed.). Washington DC: Worldwatch Institute, pp. 91-104. 

Heininen, Lassi, Heather Exner-Pirot and Joel Plouffe (eds.) (2014).  Human Capital and Capacity Building in the Arctic:Arctic Yearbook 2014. Akureyri: Northern Research Forum.

Exner-Pirot Heather and Lorna Butler (2014). “Health and Health Care in the North: The Determinants of Northern Health” in Herman Michel and Cathy Wheaton (eds.) Kitaskino: Key Issues, Challenges and Visions for Northern Aboriginal Communities in Canada.  Vernon B.C.: JCharlton Publishing Ltd.

Heininen, Lassi, Heather Exner-Pirot and Joel Plouffe (eds) (2013).  The Arctic of Regions vs. the Globalized Arctic: Arctic Yearbook 2013. Akureyri: Northern Research Forum.

Exner-Pirot, Heather  (2012). “New Directions for Governance in the Arctic”, in Lassi Heininen (ed.), Arctic Yearbook 2012, Akureyri: Northern Research Forum.

Heininen, Lassi, Heather Exner-Pirot and Joel Plouffe (eds.) (2012).  Arctic Yearbook 2012.  Akureyri: Northern Research Forum.


Exner-Pirot, Heather (2011).  “The Arctic in International Affairs: Security in the Circumpolar Region”. PhD Thesis.  University of Calgary, Department of Political Science. Defense passed September 27, 2011.

Exner-Pirot, Heather (May, 2002). “Low Political Participation among Rural Women in Chiloe, Chile: Consequences for Democratization”. Master’s Thesis. Memorial University of Newfoundland, Department of Political Science. 

Book Reviews

Exner-Pirot, Heather (2016). “Arctic: Commerce, Governance and Policy” by Uttam Kumar  Sinha & Jo Inge Bekkevold (eds). Nordicum-Mediterranean11(1), p. B13. 

Exner-Pirot, Heather (2013). “The Canadian North: Issues and Challenges” by Robert Bone.  Polar Geography, 36(3), pp. 246-48.

Conference Presentations

Exner-Pirot, Heather. "Social License? Asssessing the Health, Social and Economic Affects of Bill C-69". Calgary AB.  Mount Royal University, March 28, 2019; University of Calgary, March 29, 2019. 

Exner-Pirot, Heather. “Experiences and Best Practices – Innovation in the Arctic”. Arctic Circle Assembly. Reykjavik, Iceland. October 19, 2018.

Exner-Pirot, Heather (Chair). “The Future of the Arctic Council: Form and Function.”Arctic Circle Assembly. Reykjavik, Iceland. October 19, 2018. 

Exner-Pirot, Heather. “The Current Arctic Policy Era: 2007-? What Comes Next”. Arctic Circle Assembly. Reykjavik, Iceland. October 19, 2018.

Exner-Pirot, Heather, Lorna Butler, and Lois Berry.“The Promise of Telehealth for Northern and Indigenous Communities”. International Congress on Circumpolar Health.   Copenhagen, Denmark. August 15, 2018.  

Norbye, Bente, Heather Exner-Pirot & Lorna Butler. “Under the Same Sky: Cultural   Sensitivity in Nursing Education - Learning Across the Rural Circumpolar North”. International Congress on Circumpolar Health. Copenhagen, Denmark. August 15, 2018.


Exner-Pirot, Heather. ‘Co-Development’ of the Canadian Arctic Policy Framework: Insights and Implications.” Arctic Conference 2018. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA.  April 11, 2018. 

Exner-Pirot, Heather. “How Can Policy Promote Development in the Arctic?: Reflections on Canada’s Arctic Policy Framework Process” Fletcher School of Diplomacy, Tufts University.  Boston MA. March 9, 2018. 

Exner-Pirot, Heather. “The Arctic Council and Regional Arctic Governance in a Time of Rapid Change”. Canadian International Council – Saskatoon Branch. Saskatoon SK. January 9, 2018. 

Exner-Pirot, Heather. “Confronting ‘The Narrative’: Myths in Mainstream Media Coverage of Arctic Politics and the Impacts on Policy”. Global Arctic – Regional Governance. Stockholm, Sweden. December 6, 2017. 

Exner-Pirot, Heather. “Between Militarization and Disarmament: Challenges for Arctic Security in the 21stCentury”.  Arctic Circle, Reykjavik, Iceland. October 14, 2017.

Exner-Pirot, Heather and Lorna Butler. “Challenges to Implementation of Telehealth in Northern Canada”. Arctic Broadband Forum. Fairbanks, Alaska.  May 9, 2017. 

Exner-Pirot, Heather. “The Puzzle of Arctic Development”. Regional Arctic Governance: The Arctic Council and Beyond. University of Ottawa, October 28, 2016. 

Exner-Pirot, Heather. “Reflections on the Arctic Council’s Past and Present”. A Celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the Founding of the Arctic Council. Carleton University, Ottawa. September 29, 2016. 

Exner-Pirot, Heather, Lorna Butler and Lois Berry.“Use of Remote Presence Technology for Rural/Remote Health Education: Baccalaureate Nursing Education in Northern Saskatchewan.”  International Conference on Horizons in Education. Vienna, Austria.  July 14, 2016. 

Exner-Pirot, Heather. “A One-Stop Policy Shop? Arctic Regional Governance Beyond the Arctic Council”. Understanding Sovereignty and Security in the Circumpolar Arctic. Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International History, Toronto, ON. January 25-26, 2016.

Exner-Pirot, Heather. “Deconstructing the Arctic Conflict Theory”. The Arctic Ahead – Safe, Secure and Sustainable. Danish Institute for International Studies, Copenhagen Denmark. January 20, 2016.

Exner-Pirot, Heather. “Beyond the Arctic Council: Cooperation Needs and Gaps in the Arctic Region”. Expert Roundtable on Revitalizing Canada's Arctic Policy. Centre for International Governance Innovation, Ottawa, ON. November 27, 2015.

Exner-Pirot, Heather. “Demystifying the Russian Bear in the Arctic”.  Arctic Circle, Reykjavik, Iceland. October 16, 2015.

Exner-Pirot, Heather. “Innovation in the Arctic: Squaring the Circle”.  Arctic Circle, Reykjavik, Iceland. October 16, 2015.

Exner-Pirot, Heather and Cathy Jeffery. “Building a Northern Nursing Workforce”, New North Northern Health Conference, Prince Albert, SK, September 16, 2015.

Exner-Pirot, Heather. “The Canadian Arctic Council Chairmanship: Success, Failure or Somewhere in Between?” Neighbors in the North: Canada, the United States and the Arctic Council. Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA, May 15, 2015.

Butler, Lorna and Heather Exner-Pirot. “Learn Where You Live: Extending the Application of Remote Presence Telementoring to Global Classrooms for Post-Secondary Health Education”, American Telemedical Association Annual Meeting,Los Angeles, CA, May 3, 2015. 

Exner-Pirot, Heather.  “What Does Sustainability Mean in the Arctic? Schisms between  Canadian and Nordic Perceptions”.  The Trans Arctic Agenda, Centre for Arctic Policy Studies, Reykjavik, Iceland. October 28-29, 2014.

Exner-Pirot, Heather.  “Canada’s Arctic Council Chairmanship: Lots of Leadership, but Any Followers?”International Political Science Association World Congress, Montreal QC.  July 22, 2014.

Exner-Pirot, Heather. “Northern Resource Development and Impact and Benefit Agreements: Ceding State Responsibilities = Ceding State Sovereignty?” Calotte Academy 2014, Rovaniemi Finland, June 2, 2014.

Exner-Pirot, Heather.  “Improving Household Food Security in Canada’s Rural, Remote, and Northern Communities”.  3rdAnnual Food Summit, Conference Board of Canada, Toronto Ontario. March 18, 2014.

Exner-Pirot, Heather.  “Health Equity Begins with Accessible Health Education: Using Partnerships and Technology to Deliver Health Education in the North.”  International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences, Prince George, BC. May 25, 2014.

Exner-Pirot, Heather. “Security for Whom? Security from What? Arctic Security in the Arctic Nexus”. Arctic Circle, Rejkjavik, Iceland. October 13, 2013.

Exner-Pirot, Heather. “Funding Autonomy:  Local Taxation, Governance and the Pursuit of Self-Sufficiency in Northern and Aboriginal Communities”, Native American and Indigenous Studies Conference, Saskatoon SK. June 12, 2013.

Exner-Pirot, Heather “Challenges of Arctic Development”, The Trans-Arctic Agenda: Challenges of Development, Security and Cooperation, Institute for International Affairs and Centre for Arctic Policy Studies, University of Iceland (IIA/CAPS), and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Reykjavik, Iceland, March 18-19, 2013.

Exner-Pirot, Heather.  “The Arctic as a Regional Environmental Security Complex: Consequences for Policy”, The Arctic Council in Transition: Nordic to North American Leadership, SIPRI, Stockholm, Sweden. November 29, 2012.

Exner-Pirot, Heather. “The Role of the Public Sector in Northern Governance”, Transformations in Politics, Prairie Political Science Association, Saskatoon SK. September 22, 2012.

Exner-Pirot, Heather. “The Regionalization of the Arctic”, International Polar Year, Montreal QC, April 24, 2012.

Exner-Pirot, Heather.  “China and the Arctic”, The Arctic: Region in Transition, Montreal, QC, October 2, 2011.

Exner-Pirot, Heather.  “What Role for Asian States in Arctic Affairs?” Geopolitics, Resources and Security: Asia and the Arctic in the 21st Century, Ottawa Ontario, April 8, 2011.

Exner-Pirot, Heather.  “The Impact of the Arctic Council on the Canadian Forces”, The Defence and Security of Canada's North: The Role of the Canadian Forces, Calgary, Alberta, March 26, 2011.