How Nunavut communities should adapt to climate change

Report outlines where GN and NTI should spend their money


“Living with Change in Nunavut: Vulnerability of Two Inuit Communities to Risks Associated with Climate Change,” prepared by James Ford, Barry Smit and Johanna Wandel for the Government of Nunavut last May, makes a number of recommendations on how GN policy could moderate the effects of climate.

The report finds:

* Climate change affects hunting and harvesting;
* Younger Inuit are most vulnerable due to an erosion of land-based skills necessary for safe harvesting and travel;
* Experienced hunters are more adaptable;
* Changing weather during spring sea ice break-up and autumn freeze-up, and unpredictable summer weather present challenges;
* Capacity to cope with future climate change varies within communities;
* Limited land skills and a lack of money for new equipment makes safe hunting more difficult.

The report also suggests what the Government of Nunavut and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. could do to help Nunavummiut adapt to climate change.

Recommendations, based on 116 interviews and community consultations, call for:

* NTI and the GN to provide more money for hunters who buy extra supplies (gas, naphtha, food, tents) due to changing conditions;
* NTI and the GN to spend more money on safety gear such as VHF radios, satellite photos, PLBs and GPS;
* NTI and the GN to provide affordable insurance to cover equipment lost or damaged in climate-related hunting accidents;
* More publicity for all programs offered by the GN and NTI;
* Increased search and rescue capability in the GN.

Recommendations specific to Arctic Bay included:

* Money provided by the GN and NTI to buy bigger row boats to take the floe edge. These boats enable hunters to keep themselves and their equipment safe if the ice suddenly breaks up;

Recommendations specific to Igloolik, which the researchers also looked at, include the construction of a bridge from Igloolik Island to the mainland to allow hunters to reach hunting areas on the mainland during sea ice freeze-up.

That’s because in recent years it has taken longer for the ice to become safe to travel on, which has restricted hunting on the mainland. Climate change scenarios predict longer freeze-up for Igloolik in the future.

The study also calls for more community case studies, the importance of “a systematic and consistent approach,” and community involvement.

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