Kivalliq and Kitikmeot Research Priorities

Qanuittumik takuvik? (What do you see?) – Development of collaborative environmental research priorities for social and economic prosperity in the Kivalliq and Kitikmeot Regions of Nunavut

2009 – 2011

Funded by: SSHRC Northern Communities, Research Development Initiative

In recent years, increasing attention has been focused on Canada’s northern regions. There is a lot of interest in learning about the influences of climatic changes being observed and experienced by both scientists and community members. Some of these changes include: less summer sea ice, later freeze-up and earlier break-up timing, unpredictable winds and storm events, and related changes in wildlife behaviour and health.  In this project we were interested in learning not only about the environmental impacts of these changes, but also the effects these changes have on the livelihoods, social networks, safety, and sustainability of northern communities and residents.  

There have been strong statements made by Inuit organizations to emphasize the importance of Inuit leaders, land claims organizations, and territorial governments being closely involved in decision-making regarding northern strategies, policies, and development. However, there is still more federal investment in northern science, non-renewable resource development, and military than on community services, infrastructure, education, and sustainable economies.  As the Inuit organizations argue, investing in communities is the most effective means of asserting sovereignty. Listening to, and learning from, northern experts who have spent their whole lives in this unique environment is an essential part of understanding the challenges and opportunities facing northern communities today.

Qanuittumik takuvik? (what do you see?) was commonly asked of Inuit youth by their parents and grandparents. This was a daily encouragement for them to observe and understand early morning weather, and what the day might hold.  We use this as both a title and a guiding question in our project, with the goal of understanding some of the complex impacts of social and environmental changes. Our project expanded from previous community-based, collaborative sea ice research in the Qikiqtaaluk (Baffin) Region of Nunavut.  At a sea ice and weather forecasting workshop held in Iqaluit in March 2007, we met Elders from the Kivalliq and Kitikmeot regions who encouraged us to consider doing research in their regions to learn about the distinct environmental, cultural, and socio-economic conditions in their home communities (Rankin Inlet and Gjoa Haven).

We worked with the Kivalliq and Kitikmeot Inuit Association Community Liaison Officers (Veronica and Walter) to organize follow-up workshops in Rankin Inlet (December 2009) and Gjoa Haven (February 2010). These were exploratory workshops to understand:

  • what research has been done before, in each community;
  • community perspectives on what makes a successful, community-based, collaborative research process;
  • current community research priorities.

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