Community History – The History of Our People
Salluit stands at the far end of the narrow Sugluk Inlet, 10 km inland from the Hudson Strait, hidden between high, rugged mountains rising close to 500 m. Salluit, being the middle point between Nunavik’s 14 communities, is a strategic location for meetings attended by people of the Hudson and Ungava coasts. Salluit means “The Thin Ones” in Inuktitut, referring to a time when local inhabitants were facing starvation as a result of lack of wildlife. Though the village’s name suggests that it has not always been the case, the area is rich in wildlife and arctic plants. The coastal seabed teams with mussels and clams. Sallumiut enjoy a variety of dishes which include arctic charr, caribou, bannock, berries, roots and herbs. The very harsh climate endured by Sallumiut is indelibly engraved in their way of life, endowing them with an incredible sense of survival. An explanation for the name of this village recounts that, long ago, some Inuit were told the region abounded in wildlife. Yet when they arrived they found almost nothing to eat and, as a result, suffered near starvation.
In the 2006 Census, Salluit had 1241 inhabitants with much of the population of Inuit descent. Main activities within the community still consist of fishing and hunting. Recently, rapidly melting permafrost is threatening to undermine existing infrastructure. Salluit has experienced a 2.6°C temperature increase between 1990 and 2003 and has witnessed the problems that such an increase can inflict – damaged buildings, roads and embankments, and the relocation of 20 new homes from unstable land.
Project Summary – How We Are Leading the Way
Climate change in the form of warmer and shorter winters is affecting Inuit subsistence activities, resulting in shorter ice season, reduced access to traditional resources and increased risks for travel during the winter season associated with less stable and/or thinner ice. This project, conducted by the Nunavik Research Centre (NRC) of Makivik Corporation and the Qaqqalik Landholding Corporation from the Northern Village of Salluit, assesses these impacts and implements a monitoring program for purposes of travel safety and food security. The monitoring program was designed as a multi-seasonal, multi-year program and allows community members to evaluate travel safety conditions as they relate to local weather patterns, through a web portal in real time.
The project was grounded in Inuit knowledge and indentified the following:
- Most frequently used hunting and fishing grounds in winter;
- Most frequently used travel routes to key subsistence areas and how they have been changing in recent times;
- The current method used by community members of determining which travel routes are safe to take; and
- The usefulness of visual aids and real time weather data in choosing safer travel routes and most appropriate mechanism for delivering real-time data.
The project was conducted in a multi-phase approach and included:
- Research and planning;
- Community consultations and collection of Inuit knowledge;
- Geospatial data processing and community fieldwork; and
- Web portal development, monitoring, communication of results and training.
The four project phases created the following key deliverables:
- TEK database – information collected during community consultations was used to update the TEK database initially collected in 1970s;
- Weather stations – three key travel routes were identified to key subsistence areas as well as desired locations for six weather stations. At the end, only two weather stations were installed due to bad weather conditions (caused by delays in the project start-up and in delivery of weather stations and related equipment);
- Web portal – developed to disseminate climate change information and to provide real time access to information from the weather stations located along the key travel routes. The monitoring tool assists subsistence hunters to make safer decisions reducing delays in accessing traditional foods and through improved travel safety reduce the number of travel-related accidents; and
- Training was provided to Members of Qaqqalik on use of the web portal.
Capacity Building – Connecting the Guidance of the Past with the Needs of Today
The project engaged the community through community workshop and training and capacity building sessions.
- Collected traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) interviews including designing an interview template, how to record geospatial information and presenting results for verification;
- Played an integral part of conducting the TEK interviews;
- Were integrally part of the fieldwork to assemble the monitoring equipment; and
- Received web portal training and future training will be instructed by the community project team lead at the Qaqqalik Landholding Corporation.
Next Steps – How We Are Adapting to Climate Change
Many of the deliverables for this project are products and services that we will continue to use. The monitoring stations will continue to be used for many years along the trails in Salluit. The stations will continue to upload real-time weather conditions at the trail sites and thus, community members will continue to use the website to view the data and determine if travel conditions are safe.
For more information,visit the Ice Monitoring Web Portal at salluitmonitoring.ca