Inuit-led marine conservation

Banner Photo: Gita Ljubicic

Inuit Knowledge to Inform Marine Conservation Decision-Making in Inuit Nunangat

2022 – 2023

Funded by: Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, SmartICE, Canada Research Chairs

Page under development

Photos by: SmartICE, Natalie Carter, Gita Ljubicic, James Nanau Tagalik

Marine conservation areas protect cultural and biological diversity and serve important economic and social functions. This includes provision of natural products for sustainable consumption and use, enabling (local) travel, harvesting, and well-being. Conservation areas in Inuit Nunangat (Inuit homelands in the Canadian Arctic) are also home to and accessed daily by Inuit, utilizing their own knowledge and culture. Enhanced understanding of a range of social and cultural values, preferences, and knowledge can inform marine conservation management decision-making, and especially so for Inuit-led protected areas. Harvesting, guardianship, monitoring, and social determinants of health are all components of a holistic and integrated approach by Inuit to conservation. Unfortunately, however, Inuit and their knowledge are often under-represented in marine conservation decision-making, even though they are highly dependent upon natural products and resources and live in a region that is disproportionately affected by climate change.

Indigenous-led marine and terrestrial protected areas are increasing across Canada, as Indigenous communities strive to protect key habitat, species, and homelands that are critical to their cultural, mental, physical, and economic well-being. “In many Crown-protected areas in Canada, conservation is achieved by restricting human activities and limiting access, whereas within Indigenous beliefs, the health of the land and of humans cannot be separated. The survival of wildlife and of humans are closely linked.” (Ritchot, 2021, 37). This is why Inuit-led conservation is so important in Inuit Nunangat, so that Inuit values and long-term knowledge and experience of lands and animals are the foundation of conservation decision-making. This project aims to advance Inuit knowledge for conservation in support of new and established conservation areas in Inuit Nunangat.


Working with partners in the communities of Arviat, Gjoa Haven, Taloyoak, and Pond Inlet, Nunavut, and Tuktoyaktuk, Inuvialuit Settlement Region, our project had four main objectives, including to:

  1. Document Inuit knowledge of sea ice and mapping as a baseline for decision-making and community-led monitoring to inform safe travel in all 5 communities;
  2. Understand the role of Inuit women’s knowledge in sustaining community food security and mammal conservation (Taloyoak);
  3. Identify and summarize past and current Inuit knowledge and conservation planning initiatives in the Kitikmeot Region with potential to inform Taloyoak decisions in Aviqtuuq Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area (IPCA) planning; and,
  4. Facilitate an initial knowledge exchange between all project communities to discuss how Inuit knowledge and monitoring initiatives can contribute to marine conservation decision-making.

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.


Coming soon…

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