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Inuit

INUIT2Academic co-investigator Thierry Rodon has been working with Inuit communities to research northern governance, indigenous policies, sustainable development, joint management of natural resources, indigenous education, and participatory democracy.

Thierry Rodon, Université Laval.
Thierry Rodon, Université Laval.

On first consideration, Inuit may appear to have vaulted from life in isolated small societies characterized by little knowledge of the outside world and scant capacity to cope with the complexities and demands of an increasingly global consciousness in a dangerous and complex world. We acknowledge that there is some truth in this observation, but…it also contains important misconceptions and a serious underestimation of the strengths inherent in the original Inuit societies. On the evidence of what they have achieved in the last two generations, it is clear that the original societies of Inuit had developed a number of attitudes and practices that have been capable of successful adaptation to new challenges. That all of what Inuit have achieved to date, in the arena of internal diplomacy and externally as well, has been achieved peacefully and without disadvantage to other people or groups, should recommend their approach to others.

-Inuit Diplomacy in the Global Era

 

At the Canadian Studies Spring Symposium 2013: Northern Sovereignties, Rodon presented on Sovereignty and Security in Inuit Nunangat:


James Ford, McGill University, interested in climate change vulnerability and adaptation, focusing on the impacts of climate change on Inuit communities.
James Ford, McGill University, interested in climate change vulnerability and adaptation, with a focus on the impacts of climate change on Inuit communities.

James Ford, CICADA co-investigator, has been examining the effects of climate change and climate policy on Inuit communities  in Canada. Ford has established the Climate Change Adaptation Research Group based in the department of geography at McGill University. The group’s research examines the ways in climate change vulnerability, adaptation research and planning amongst Indigenous populations all intersect with science and policy. Ford is interested in new methods for studying and tracking adaptation at global and regional levels. Ford’s research also examines the effects of climates change on Inuit communities’ food security and considers the gendered aspects of climate change on female food security. Ford is also interested in the impacts of climate change on Inuit demographics, with an interest towards fertility and migration

Canada’s Inuit regions – including the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Nunavut, Nunavik and Nunatsiavut – cover 30% of the Canadian land mass. The area is sparsely populated with an average population density of 0.014 people per km2, and approximately 51 permanently settled communities. Source: Climate change policy responses for Canada’s Inuit population: “The Importance of and Opportunities for Adaptation” J. Ford, T. Pearce, F. Duerden, C. Furgald, B. Smit.

“We identify policy priorities that can be implemented within existing policy frameworks today and outline boarder principles of adaptation applicable in multiple contexts. Importantly…Inuit are not powerless in the face of a rapidly changing climate. Adaptation options are available, feasible, and Inuit have considerable adaptive capacity as history and current experience shows. With support from territorial and federal levels and local action to identify risks and plan for adaptation, some of more severe manifestations of climate change can be moderated.”

-Climate Change Policy Responses for Canada’s Inuit Population: The Importance of and Opportunities for Adaptation.

Climate Change Adaptation Research Group lab member Graham McDowell explains the Iqaluit Land Use Mapping Project on CBC’s Northbeat  (May 17, 2010):

At a Griffith Climate Change Response Program presentation (May 2014), Ford discussed Traditional Knowledge (TK) and the ways it lends itself to climate change adaption. Ford also spoke on the limitations of adaption to climate change in the Canadian Arctic:


Mario Blaser, CICADA collaborator, has developed Understanding the Past to Build the Future, a five-year multidisciplinary study of the history of the Inuit Métis of southern Labrador. The research aims to investigate the Inuit occupation of Southern Labrador by collecting and analyzing evidence of Inuit-European interactions and documenting cultural changes. Research is conducted through archaeology, ethnography, archival study, and genealogy.


 

2003. Thibault Martin.
Academic collaborator Thibault Martin has been partnering with Inuit communities to explore Inuit communities’ responses to economic and policy change in relation to hunting practices. Martin’s research considers the hybridization of traditional practices and economic and political change, and he explores how Inuit communities’ hunting practices have adapted over time to these factors in a community-directed way.

Martin is also studying the ever-changing role of parks and tourism for Inuit of Nunavik. Martin explores how parks are generally established with the aim of cultural livelihood and traditional practices being supported foremost, with economy generated from parks tourism presented as a form of cultural strengthening through cultural transmission centers and museums. Martin’s book, De la banquise au congélateur. Mondialisation et culture au Nunavik (2003). (Sea Ice in the Freezer: Globalization and Culture in Nunavik), studies changes to Inuit hunting practices as an expression of political and economic autonomy.


George Wenzel, CICADA collaborator, has been partnering with  the Inuit of Clyde River, Nunavut, to examine wildlife management, hunting, food security, and subsistence practices. Wenzel’s research has focused on the significance of polar bears to Inuit communities’ subsistence hunting practices, and has also examined the impacts of climate change on Inuit subsistence.

Canadian polar bear population areas. Source: G. Wenzel.

“The crucial adaptive problem is not the fate of polar bears or seals, nor which species may fill the newly vacated niches, but rather how the global environmental political regime will respond to Inuit ecological choices. What the Inuit must make clear is that their “subsistence adaptation” is not only about how to maintain the hunting component of the system, but also, and perhaps more importantly, how to sustain the social economy of ningiqtuq when well-meant decisions in Washington, London, Geneva and Brussels about polar bears, narwhals and caribou are ignorant of their cultural impact. All this is to say that the environment to which the Inuit must adapt is a far more complex one than the one experienced by their Thule forebears.”

-Canadian Inuit subsistence and ecological instability—
if the climate changes, must the Inuit?

Associated Projects

Canadian First Nations’ Ontologies, Environmental Knowledge and Co-Governance in the Face of Large-Scale Extractive Industries

Environmental Impact Assessment and Social Impact of Mining in Eeyou Istchee, Nunavik, and Nunavut

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Centre for Indigenous Conservation and Development Alternatives