August 15, 2005

Project will blend Inuit knowledge, science to preserve park ecosystems and culture

In a $2.4-million project, Parks Canada and local Inuit communities will work collaboratively to blend Inuit traditional knowledge and science to develop a better understanding of arctic ecosystems. This in turn will help the agency enhance the ecological integrity of three of Canada's arctic national parks--Auyuittuq, Sirmilik, and Ukkusiksalik.

At the same time, the project will help preserve important facets of Inuit culture for transmission to future generations. Additional support for the project is being provided by the University of Manitoba, the University of Qu├ębec at Rimouski, Memorial University, the government of Nunavut and various Inuit organizations.

"This project...will also ensure that the traditional knowledge and vocabulary of the Inuit will be preserved to enrich the lives of future generations," said Nunavut MP Nancy Karetak-Lindell.

Through the project, Parks Canada will develop a comprehensive description of the baseline ecological conditions in the arctic. This work will enable the agency to develop and implement effective approaches to monitor current and future ecosystem changes, and to develop strategies and tools to manage them.

In Auyuittuq National Park of Canada, Parks Canada will work with local Inuit communities and draw on their traditional knowledge to develop and implement a marine ecosystem monitoring program.

The same collaborative approach will be used in Ukkusiksalik National Park to develop a shared vision of ecological integrity.

In Sirmilik National Park, Parks Canada will work with local Inuit communities to integrate Inuit knowledge and scientific data to develop a new understanding of arctic ecosystems, including their biodiversity, functions and stressors.

The project is also designed to contribute to the preservation of Inuit culture, language and understanding of arctic ecosystems. Information on the Inuit's traditional knowledge of the arctic will be collected, archived and made available electronically to Inuit youth, scientists, researchers and interested people from around the world through a project Web site and database. Traditional Inuit terms and vocabulary will be incorporated into the site, which will also contain information on the new knowledge and understanding of arctic ecosystems that result from the project.

Parks Canada will participate in this facet of the project by working with local Inuit communities to build capacity for the collection and presentation of Inuit knowledge. The agency will develop community workstations, reports and articles for publication in scientific journals, and strategies for enhancing public awareness of Inuit knowledge and resource use.

In addition, Parks Canada will promote the use of Inuit knowledge in the development of scientific hypotheses, research study methods and ecosystem monitoring programs, and incorporate it into future park management plans.

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