Challenges facing Inuit-knowledge Integretion in Conservation of Sirmilik National Park in the Canadian Arctic

Theme 1. Environmental protection
Session Name 1.2 International conservation law and local communities. Can local interests be adequately integrated?
Presentation Type Oral
Author(s) Ayonghe Akonwi Nebasifu (Doctoral Researcher of Environmental Sociology, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Finland)
Abstract text

North of Baffin Island, 800km North of Arctic Circle, is Sirmilik National Park with a surface area of 22,200km².  Created in 2001, both Inuit and Parks Canada have jointly managed Sirmilik Park backed by conservation agreements such as: Canada National Parks Act, Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement of Auyuittuq, Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, and Sirmilik National Parks Act. Sirmilik park targets to integret knowledge of Inuit who occupy nearby communities of Ikpiarjuk and Mittimatalik.  For morethan 4000 years, these communities have depended on immediate environment for food which necessitates ever increasing need to protect Inuit cultural heritage and ecological integrity. This study aims to examine strategies implemented towards integrating Inuit-knowledge in conservation and problems affecting such attempts. Using review of literature on government texts and published articles, results show three strategies employed to ensure integrating Inuit-knowledge in conservation. These include: Periodically celebrating Inuit’s connection with Sirmilik Park; enhancing visitor-experience in Sirmilik park; and promoting knowledge and awareness of  Sirmilik National Park. Admidst these efforts, shipping continues to pose major challenges against integrating Inuit-knowledge in Conservation of Sirmilik National Park through; collision with fish and marine mammals,  accidental oil spills, shoreline erosion, disruption of hunting grounds in winter caused by ships breaking through ice to expand tourism season, among other factors. We conclude that enhancing communication process between Inuit and visitors is crutial for effectively promoting inuit-knowledge in conservation. Also, visitors need to local understand interest as a priority to help reduce problems posed by cruise ships on immediate environment.

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