On September 30th, 2022, three members of our StraightUpNorth Research Team travelled to Iqaluit, Nunavut, including: Natalie Carter (Research Associate, McMaster University), Alison Perrin (PhD candidate, Carleton University), and Alexis Polidoro (PhD student, McMaster University). Below is their summary of the week of activities.
From left to right: Alison Perrin, Natalie Carter, Alexis Polidoro
Purpose of the visit
The purpose of our time in Iqaluit was to share the results from our “Nunavut Research Trends” report, and to work with the Nunavut Research Institute (NRI) and other partners to develop the next steps for our newly SSHRC-funded project “Making Research Work for Nunavummiut”.
Our week was focused on working with research partners Jamal Shirley, Jade Owen, and Mosha Cote from the NRI, as well as Jean Allen (Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated) and Gwen Healey Akearok (Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre). While in Iqaluit, we were based in the NRI’s boardroom, where we worked with NRI staff as well as hosted meetings with research partners and other licensing/permitting organizations based in Iqaluit. The broad goal of our research is to learn how the research licensing process can better serve Nunavummiut (people of Nunavut) and address their priorities.
We spent the first two days over the weekend experiencing the city of Iqaluit. For Alexis, this was her first time in Nunavut, and we all wanted to gain more context and appreciation of the city and surrounding areas. Our activities included a trip to the historic Hudson’s Bay Company buildings built in 1940 and the beach in Apex (a small community about 5km from the core of the city). We hiked in Iqaluit Kuunga (Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park) to experience the breathtaking tundra landscape along the Sylvia Grinnell River. We also visited the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum and Unikkaarvik Visitor Centre where we were warmly welcomed by staff. During these two days we enjoyed our time together, and we grew stronger as a team. Despite collaborating closely for the past two years, Alexis and Alison had never met in person before, and it was a real bonus to have this time together. We also took time to prepare and refine our plans to make the most of the week ahead of us. We had a long list of people and organizations to connect with, so we divided tasks and priorities amongst the three of us. During the week we also visited a team of sled dogs, experienced the locally popular wing night with friends, sampled char and caribou, and were very excited to see the northern lights (twice!).
Disseminating Research Trends in Nunavut
The report on Nunavut Research Trends was released in June 2022, and provides an overview of research topics, locations, license holders, methods, and reporting of projects licensed by the NRI between 2004 and 2019. We shared key results from the report with students at Nunavut Arctic College’s Environmental Technology Program. We had a wonderful time chatting with students and hearing about their experiences with researchers working in Nunavut, and what changes they would like to see to improve the research process. Natalie also had an opportunity to meet with Jamal and Rebecca Mearns (Nunavut Arctic College) to discuss research values that guide our team.
As the week progressed, and through discussion with Jamal and Jade, we decided that it would be valuable to meet with other licensing bodies in Nunavut to learn more about how they administer their research permits. We met with representatives of Inuit Heritage Trust (archaeology), Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (fish), Parks Canada (National Parks), and Environment and Climate Change Canada (migratory bird sanctuaries, national wildlife protected areas ). These meetings gave us the opportunity to share results from our Nunavut report and to hear more about how other organizations consult with communities and report on research. These discussions helped us gain a fuller picture of the research landscape and also served to identify some new directions for research.
Discussing Next Steps in our Project
Through several meetings with Jamal and Jade, they continued to provide critical guidance in developing the next phases of our research in ways that will be most relevant for the NRI and other Nunavut research organizations. They reviewed and refined questions for a survey to better understand research license review organizations experiences. This survey will be released as soon as all translations are received. Alexis also met with Mosha and Jade to learn more about the research license administration process at NRI. Alexis shared prototype functionalities of the Nunavut research licensing portal under development, to get NRI feedback on the operational aspects of making research licenses and reports publicly accessible.
We also met with project partners Jean and Gwen, along with Ceporah Mearns (Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre) to share updates and further develop plans for the next four years of this project. Iterative discussions emphasized the importance of case studies in our project to tell the story of research licensing in Nunavut.
Thank you to the NRI for allowing us to use the NRI boardroom as our workspace for the week, and for our accommodations at the NRI bunkhouse. Our gratitude is also extended to our SUN Team member Jason Carpenter for his hospitality during our stay.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to meet with us and share your experiences and feedback. We especially thank our project partners for sharing your critical insights and identifying important research directions that inform the next steps in this project. Together, we will continue working towards making research work for Nunavummiut!
Photos: Alexis Polidoro, Alison Perrin, Natalie Carter