Taking Action to Advance the Inuit Vision
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A remarkable collaborative project was undertaken between ICC Greenland and Canada in relation to the Environmental Stewardship objective in the 2014 Kitigaaryuit Declaration related to the open water polynya known as Pikialasorsuaq between Greenland and Canada.
The result was the Pikialasorsuaq Commission, created in 2016. This Inuit-led Commission was mandated to conduct consultations in the communities closely connected to Pikialasorsuaq.
Pikialasorsuaq means “great upwelling”. It’s the Kalaalisut (West Greenlandic) name for the North Water polynya shared by Canada and Greenland. Polynyas are areas of open water that remain ice-free year-round due to ocean and wind currents. They’re incredibly rich and teeming with marine life. The Pikialaorsuaq is the largest polynya in the Arctic and the most biologically productive region north of the Arctic Circle.
One of the main reasons for holding the commission was because the Pikialasorsuaq is at risk. Most concerning are the impacts of climate change, increased shipping, resource development, tourism and the potential of commercial fisheries.
The Commission held hearings in Nunavut and Greenland, speaking with Inuit of all ages who have occupied the region and managed its resources for generations to determine how Inuit envision the future of this significant marine region.
A final report was published in November 2017 titled People of the Ice Bridge: The Future of the Pikialasorsuaq. The Commission’s work, including the final report, is available online at www.pikialasorsuaq.org
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