Nunamin Illihakvia: Learning from the Land (year 2 onward)

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: social sciences, traditional knowledge, hunting, human adaptation

Principal Investigator: Pearce, Tristan D (23)
Licence Number: 15427
Organization: University of Guelph
Licensed Year(s): 2014 2013
Issued: Feb 18, 2014
Project Team: Ellie Stephenson (Researcher, McGill University), Lesya Nakoneczny (Researcher, McGill University), Susan Kaodlak (Coordinator, Ulukhaktok Community Corporation), Walter Olifie (Elder/Skills Teacher, Ulukhaktok Community Corporation), Donna Akhiatak (Project Administration, Brighter Futures), Janet Kanayok (Project Advisor, Ulukhaktok Community Corporation), Emily Kudlak (Project Advisor, Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre), Laverna Klengenberg (Project Advisor, Ulukhaktok Community Corporation), Joanne Ogina (Project Advisor (sewing), Ulukhaktok Community Member), Gilbert Olifie (Project Administration, Ulukhaktok Community Corporation), Rowan Schindler (Researcher, University of the Sunshine Coast), Genevieve Lalonde (Researcher, University of Guelph), Victoria Akhiatak (Project Advisor, Ulukhaktok Community Corporation), Koral Kudlak (Student Researcher, Ulukhaktok Community Corporation), Brittney Akoaksion (Student Researcher, Ulukhaktok Community Corporation)

Objective(s): To enable the transfer of traditional knowledge, skill sets and values, based on Inuit knowledge and guiding principles in a changing climate.

Project Description: The Nunamin Illihakvia project is dedicated to enabling the transfer of traditional knowledge, skill sets and values, based on Inuit knowledge and guiding principles in a changing climate. The specific objectives are to:

1) Facilitate the transfer of knowledge and skills among experienced hunters, Elders and younger generation Inuit for how to make seal hunting equipment, how to travel on the sea ice under changing climatic conditions, and how to hunt seals in the winter.
2) Involve younger generation Inuit in butchering and sharing seal meat in the community following traditional food sharing networks.
3) Teach traditional seal skin preparation and sewing skills.
4) Conduct Inuit-led interviews with Elders, hunters and sewers about the health-related aspects of seals and their importance in Inuit diet and culture in the context of climate change.
5) Develop multi-media research and learning tools that promote Inuit knowledge and skills related to seal hunting, seal skin preparation and sewing skills and their importance to Inuit health.

Interviews: Semi-structured interviews will be conducted with elders, hunters, sewers, program coordinators, and educators (30-45 minutes). Interviews will be led and facilitated by local Inuit researchers. Interviewers will ask questions on the health-related aspects of winter hunting and traditional skills and how these are changing; the risks, benefits, and potential of formal cultural education programs like Nunamin Illihakvia; and the use of multi-media in documenting and sharing traditional knowledge. Interviews are designed to be conversational, with open-ended questions. Interviews will be conducted in English, Inuinnaqtun, or Inuvialuktun in accordance with the participant’s preference and will, with assent, be audio and video recorded.

"Photovoice": Photovoice activities will be conducted with youth participants. Photo-voice is a participatory research method that is designed to be empowering participants to guide the research process. Participants will learn new photography and video skills, and be equipped with cameras to document their experiences with the project (e.g. practicing or learning skills, taking part in land-based trips, attending sewing circles). Youth photographers and other participants will subsequently discuss them with researchers in conversational discussion. Participants will be asked about the meaning behind each picture or video (What is the photograph about? How does it relate to health or wellbeing?). Photographs will be printed for participants to keep. Participants will also have the opportunity to submit their photographs for inclusion in a project photo-book and project video.

Video, audio, photographic recording: Participants who consent to participate will be filmed and photographed demonstrating and discussing the activities they participate in through the Nunamin Illihakvia program (such as sewing, learning land skills, and processing country foods) by research assistants with audio-visual skills. These video, audio, and photographic materials will be edited and incorporated into the visual media materials for the project (video, photo book, photos documenting activities for learning modules).

Survey: after multi-media dissemination materials about the Nunamin Illihakvia program have been produced and distributed within the community (video, photo book, learning modules), a follow up survey will be conducted to evaluate them. This survey will be conducted within the wider community of Ulukhaktok amongst non-participants, and will be designed in consultation with community-based research partners.

Informed oral and written consent will be sought for all methods.

This project requires close collaboration between university researchers and the community. The project is coordinated by the Ulukhaktok Community Corporation (UCC) and brings together youth and experienced hunters and sewers to gain subsistence skills for winter hunting. Through this project, youth will learn traditional knowledge, skill sets and values, based on Inuit knowledge and guiding principles. These skills are important for food security, sharing networks, sense of place and wellbeing, and safe travel on the sea ice under changing conditions because of climate change. The project will also document and share the knowledge of Elders for the future.

University partners will work in collaboration with local project advisors and researchers to author peer-reviewed journal articles and presentations based on the research, and a project report will be completed, including results, recommendations and conclusions, for distribution to participating organizations. A wide range of multi-media learning tools in English and Inuinnaqtun that can be shared within Ulukhaktok and elsewhere in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region and Arctic will be produced to share the project activities and results. These include: 1) a video documenting Inuit knowledge and skills for winter seal hunting, and seal skin preparation and sewing that highlights local knowledge of climate change impacts for winter hunting and for seals, and promote adaptation strategies; 2) Education modules to document and share Inuit knowledge and skills for winter seal hunting, and seal skin preparation and sewing; 3) Bi-weekly community radio broadcasts - and podcasts, with Elders and Inuit youth that focus on an element of the project, such as ‘stories of how the sea ice is changing and what impact this is having on seals and seal hunters,’ where community members will be able to call in and share their stories; and 4) A photo book that tells the story of the project through images and highlights adaptation strategies to the health impacts of climate change.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from February 17, 2014 to December 31, 2014.