Environmental Change in Eastern Hudson Bay

Banner Photo: Megan Sheremata

Learning from Inuit Knowledge: Nunavik and Nunavut perspectives on the cumulative impacts of environmental change in eastern Hudson Bay

2017 – 2020

Funded by: SSHRC Insight Development Grant, Northern Scientific Training Program, University of Toronto, POLAR Scholarship (ACUNS)

Photos: Megan Sheremata

Sea ice and coastal waters are central to Inuit livelihoods. Inuit communities on the shores of eastern Hudson Bay in Nunavik (northern Québec), and the nearby Belcher Islands of Nunavut, have observed numerous changes since the development of hydroelectricity in the region. Hydroelectric reservoir management has changed the timing of when and how much freshwater is released into the saltwater Hudson Bay system. Immense volumes of freshwater now flow into Hudson Bay during winter months, when previously they would have been at their highest levels in spring with snow and ice melt. Now, because demand for electricity for home heating in southern Quebec peaks from December to March, peak freshwater inputs occur during the sea ice season. This has had dramatic impacts on salinity, sea ice formation, breakup, current dynamics, eastern Hudson Bay’s oceanography overall. In addition, since the 1990s the impacts of climate change on the Hudson Bay sea ice systems have been pronounced, and Inuit have seen their ways of life dramatically altered over the past 40 years.

This project involves a collaboration with the Arctic Eider Society and four eastern Hudson Bay communities: Kuujjuaraapik, Umiujaq, and Inukjuak in Nunanvik (northern Québec), and Sanikiluaq, located on the Belcher Islands of Nunavut. Our work aims to:

  • learn from Inuit knowledge in order to characterize indicators of sea ice and salinity change in eastern Hudson Bay since the 1970s;
  • describe the cumulative impacts of environmental change in eastern Hudson Bay as driven by both hydroelectricity development and climate change; and
  • evaluate how collaborative research methods used in this study support documenting and sharing Inuit knowledge and values in equitable and meaningful ways.

This work builds on a long history of community-led research in the region, including the Voices from the Bay study of the 1990s, the Nunavuummi Tasiujarjuamiuguqatigiit Katutjiqatigiingit (NTK, the Nunavut Hudson Bay Inter-agency Working Group), and other Inuit-led initiatives.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. You can freely download and share all documents posted for non-commercial uses, as long as the authors are credited. Photos cannot be used for any other purposes, without permission from the photographer.


Sheremata, M. 2018. Listening to relational values in the era of rapid environmental change in the Inuit Nunangat. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 35: 75-81. (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2018.10.017)


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