Aklavik Elder's Traditional Knowledge, Climate Change and Community Health

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Gwich'in Settlement Area

Tags: health, climatology, climate change, fish, caribou, traditional food, traditional knowledge, economy, whale

Principal Investigator: Archie, Billy (2)
Licence Number: 14830
Organization: Aklavik Hunter's & Trapper's Committee
Licenced Year(s): 2010
Issued: Dec 10, 2010
Project Team: Billy Archie (Project Leader, Aklavik HTC), Michael McLeod (Resource Person, Edhitaat Renewable Resource Council), Michelle Gruben (Resource person, Aklavik HTC)

Objective(s): To gather current and traditional knowledge directly from local Elder's/Hunter's that have first hand observations of the climate changes experienced/observed within the last two decades, and help identify what species have benefited, or what species they think are at risk from climate change.

Project Description: The goal of this research project is to gather current and traditional knowledge directly from local Elder's/Hunter's that have made observations of the climate changes experienced/observed within the last two decades, and help identify what species have benefited, or what species they think are at risk from climate change. It will validate the elder's and hunter’s knowledge and contribute to community awareness, national awareness and assist in developing community ownership to any solutions or recommendations proposed as a result of the research findings. Community health may also benefit from the findings through awareness and management practices.

The research team will obtain community harvest data gathered over the past 20 years then compare this with social and health studies to determine if the overall health of community members is rising or declining due to a movement away from traditional food sources. The primary data collection will also seek to determine how much traditional foods people are consuming and why they are consuming more or less traditional foods. The rise or decline in available traditional food resources may be linked to climate change. This study will explore whether declining harvests of caribou, arctic char, whale and other traditional foods is linked to climate change and try to determine what those climate change issues may be. Elders and hunters will provide anecdotal and statistical data to this research because they have the experience and traditional knowledge of what is happening on the lands and waters they have harvested from all of their lives.

The community will benefit by having members involved in the project from inception to implementation. The majority of the funding will also be spent in the community on data gathering initiatives. The project will help to train four community field workers in scientific research and data gathering. It will also contribute to providing a community research coordinator with an opportunity to work with elders and hunters. The community will benefit from the information gathered by elders and hunters as this information may compliment other scientific research. It will also help to create awareness about climate change and health and wellness practices related to the traditional economy.

A final written report will be completed. The report may be used to develop smaller articles that can be submitted to publications for publication consideration. The report may also be used by community members in their attendance at conferences or workshops. As well, the report will be given to the School, for their Northern Studies Program.


The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from December 9, 2010 to December 31, 2010.