Igloolik, NU Mar 5 - 21, 2011


        Chase Morrison was back in Igloolik in March, 2011, working with Theo Ikummaq to help facilitate the official launch of the Inuit siku (sea ice) Atlas.   The public launch of the siku Atlas (http://sikuatlas.ca) was celebrated with community events in Cape Dorset, Igloolik, and Pangnirtung, Nunavut, as well as at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, all at the same time on March 17, 2011.  These events were organized to recognize all the hard work and important contributions of Inuit elders, northern community members, community and university researchers, funders, and other supporting organizations over the past four years.  These celebrations brought together over 50 people in Igloolik to learn about the Atlas, to try it out, and to enjoy country food and other refreshments along with a number of door prizes.  Much positive feedback was received, with elders being happy to finally see their contributions more broadly available.  However, of course there is always room for improvement, and we continue to work on ways to improve the terminology sections, expand different sections with relevant content, and develop the functions that would allow community members to update information themselves to support a ‘living’ atlas.

        Along with the launch events, a local elder-youth workshop was hosted at Ataguttaaluk High School.  This provided more chance for elders who contributed to the project, and students who might use the siku Atlas in the future, to learn more about it.  But most importantly it gave elders and youth a chance to learn more from each other.  The students navigated the Atlas, showing the elders the different sections, while the elders elaborated on the various topics presented and were able to share their more detailed and practical knowledge about sea ice conditions with the students.  The Atlas by no means replaces the importance of learning through experience, on the sea ice, and learning in context and in Inuktitut from elders who are most knowledgeable about ice conditions.  But, it does provide an important starting point for discussion and questions, and the interactions in workshops were very positive and inspiring.  The Atlas was developed based on elders’ interests and concerns to share their knowledge with youth, and so if it helps to bring people together it is an important outcome in itself.  In addition, the siku Atlas is being formally incorporated into activities and learning modules in the development of the new Nunavut Grade 11 Tariuq (Oceans) curriculum, which means it will engage students in the classroom setting, as well as encourage more student-elder interactions inside and outside the classroom.

The siku Atlas is one of many important ways of communicating the results of the International Polar Year project called The Inuit Sea Ice Use and Occupancy Project (ISIUOP).  This project is led by Dr. Claudio Aporta at Carleton University, and was made possible through the collaboration of many northern, academic, government, and private industry contributors.  The technological aspects of the Atlas were developed in close collaboration with the Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre, also at Carleton University, under the direction of Dr. Fraser Taylor.

All photos by Chase Morrison, Sean Broderick, and Larrisa Geraghty.

SIKU Atlas Launch

G. Ljubicic