Kids looking at map in Pond Inlet, Canada. Photo: Vincent Desrosiers (VDOpro.co)

Press release - September 2016

Canadian and Greenlandic Inuit Call for an Inuit Management Region and Free Access to travel in the Pikialasorsuaq

"Our children no longer know the place names of our hunting grounds, nor have they traveled across the ice bridge that links these lands. This is what we are hearing from both Canadian and Greenlandic Inuit." (Pikialasorsuaq Commissioners)

The Pikialasorsuaq Commissioners travelled by boat to six northern Greenland communities that rely on the Pikialasorsuaq to listen to hunters and community members. The sea is their link to the outside world. The sea ice critical as their hunting platform that sustains these villages from the bounty of Pikialasorsuaq, the Great Upwelling, the North Water polynya.

The hunters and community members from Canada and now Greenland have freely and generously shared their knowledge. A recurring theme is the instability of the sea and the ice, the unpredictability of the weather, changes in migration patterns of wildlife, introduction of new species, open water where there should be ice. They also talk of political change. Of borders that separate them from a time not so long ago when they could still travel across the polynya's great ice arch that links Umimmat Nunaat (Ellesmere Island) and Greenland, linking these eastern communities of Pikialasorsuaq to the hunting grounds on Ellesmere. They are worried about their future.

As we heard last Spring when we travelled to Canadian communities linked to Pikialasorsuaq. Inuit here are best placed to monitor and manage this region. They want to lead and set the economic and research agenda, study the indicators of change and establish more realistic hunting regulations that will sustain their communities.

Inuit on both sides are expressing a strong desire for free movement, once again, of Inuit across Pikialasorsuaq and increased cooperation to arrive at a common vision for shared resources and Inuit-led management of Pikialasorsuaq. Similar concerns over increased tourism, shipping, fishing, resource exploration and seismic testing in the Pikialasorsuaq are being heard on both sides of Pikialasorsuaq. Most emphatically, Inuit want to rebuild a caretaking regime for the polynya together as Inuit living, though divided by country, from one sea.

For more information:

Carole Simon ICC Canada
csimon@inuitcircumpolar.com
613-563-2642

Alfred Jakobsen Oceans North
aerj58@gmail.com

Commissioners:

Okalik Eegeesiak
chair@inuitcircumpolar.com
613-563-2642

Kuupik Kleist
kvk@ggnuuk.gl
+299 54 78 58

Eva Aariak
eva.aariak@gmail.com
867-222-8355