Community Based Monitoring in Pond Inlet
QIA staff and community-based monitors in Pond Inlet completed another successful round of field work and monitoring exercises in mid-January, 2020. The valuable work that our monitors Simon Inootik, James Kunuk, Leo Maktar, Ryan Arnakalak, Brad Nutaraq are doing contributes to our on-going monitoring of wildlife and the marine environment near the community.
On this exercise, the community-based monitors traveled Northeast of Pond Inlet to observe Nagguti, harvest seals and look for signs of other wildlife. Nagguti are the leads that form in the ice during the high tides around the new moon and it is a good place to find seals.
“The highlight of the trip was when Simon caught a seal, he was the first one” recounts QIA Community Consultation Coordinator, Tiivi Qiatsuk. “It only took Simon 10 to 15 minutes from the time he found the breathing hole to harvest the seal – Simon is only in his early 20s and that level of harvesting skills in such a young person is rare.”
The monitors also took pictures of polar bear tracks that were near the Nagguti and photos of the seals that they harvested. This information was shared on the SIKU app, which is a web platform to share data and hunting stories with others. The seal meat and pelts were shared among the families of the harvesters in Pond Inlet.
Our monitors have a unique and specialized skill set that they have learned from elders and other hunters. It gives them the skills to work quickly in the limited daylight and extreme cold of winter. The benefit is that traditional knowledge is actively being practiced and preserved. Additionally, our monitors are helping increase the traditional knowledge base for residents of Pond Inlet and others who are learning about that environment.
The community-based monitoring program began in May, 2017 and will continue until March 31, 2020 with more training and field work before the program ends. As this the last year for this pilot project, the focus has been on training, skills development and building capacity in the community. In addition to learning about environmental monitoring, the monitors participated in firearms safety, wilderness first aid and SIKU app workshops. This pilot program will give way to the new Nauttiqsuqtiit Inuit steward program negotiated as part of the Tallurutiup Imanga Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement. The Pond Inlet Nauttiqsuqtiit program is scheduled to begin in April, 2020.