Inuit to help manage marine conservation area

QIA gets $900K to run Guardian program in Lancaster Sound


A pilot program will see Inuit help manage the new Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area. (FILE PHOTO)

A pilot program will see Inuit help manage the new Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area. (FILE PHOTO)

Inuit will help manage the new Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area through a new Guardian program to be run by the Qikiqtani Inuit Association.

On Wednesday, Parks Canada announced up to $900,000 in funding for the Qikiqtani Inuit Association to operate a pilot Guardian program to involve Inuit in managing the new conservation area.

Tallurutiup Imanga, the Inuktitut name for Lancaster Sound in Canada’s High Arctic, is the newest and largest marine protected area in Canada. Its boundaries were established in August 2017. The vast area of ocean and land has been home to Inuit for thousands of years, as well as a unique ecosystem of migrating birds, fish, polar bears and whales.

“Inuit, government and non-government organizations have sought to protect this area for decades,” said a July 18 press release from QIA.

The proposed borders of Tallurutiup Imanga touch on Grise Fiord, Resolute Bay, Arctic Bay, Pond Inlet and Clyde River. Tallurutiup Imanga will also surround parts of Sirmilik National Park, two migratory bird sanctuaries and one national wildlife area. Both of these have been added to Canada’s list of tentative UNESCO world heritage sites.

“Establishing the area as a national marine conservation area is fundamental in helping to advance Canada’s biodiversity targets and preserve key species, while ensuring that Inuit traditional activities continue to be carried out in the area for generations to come,” states the news release.

The proposed 109,000 square-kilometre conservation area in Tallurutiup Imanga contributes about 1.9 per cent of Canada’s total marine protected areas, the news release said.

The Guardians will help monitor ecological health, maintain cultural sites, contribute to land and marine planning and management, and promote the sharing of traditional knowledge between generations. The community of Arctic Bay also wants the Guardian program to help monitor shipping, which will also be one of its duties, the news release said.

“The establishment of the Tallurutiup Imanga pilot Guardian program in Arctic Bay is a significant landmark in the 60-year journey commenced by Inuit leaders in Qikiqtani to protect these waters and its rich abundance of marine life,” said QIA President P.J. Akeeagok in the news release.

“This important program formalizes Inuit stewardship and lays the foundation for much needed training, jobs and economic opportunities for Inuit. This stewardship model also recognizes, respects, and supports the active hunting and food sharing culture of Inuit today.”

Parks Canada and QIA will continue working on developing an interim management plan and negotiating an Inuit impact and benefit agreement.

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