Question 2. Where does your Knowledge Come From?

Consider your knowledge and understanding of the environment, your community, and the changing climate which was described in Question 1.  In this age of online news, facebook, and twitter how important is traditional knowledge?  What about scientific knowledge?  

Tell us where you get your information, how you communicate it to your friends and family, and how it helps you make decisions or take action in your everyday life.



  • Anonymous

    To start this question off I have a few questions of my own:

    In responding to Question 1 there were many stories from elders or grandparents and there was a brief discussion about traditional knowledge and the education system and how to find room for both. What are your thoughts? Do you have time to go to school and learn from being on the land? Is there a way to show the importance of both?

    Also when we think about knowledge and learning, why is there no University based in Northern Canada when other Circumpolar countries have managed to get northern focused learned institutions up and running?

    Finally in this time of global connectivity how much is internet speed and bandwidth a problem for you and does it limit your ability to learn from the world around you?

  • Bali

    I remember in Nunavut there were teachers and principals that would every year try and incorporate more traditional knowledge into the classroom, from speaking with teachers, this never really amounted to anything. There was either something wrong with the system or maybe everyone who tries to implement it tries it the same way all the time and thats why it always fails. I would like to see the entire school system for this part of the north revamped. No school during the spring hunting season, school on weekends when it is dark and -40 so there is nothing else to do anyway. EVen that small change might help with drop out rates and with people’s schooling education. I think traditional knowledge is important, even just for the sake of diversity in Canada.

    I think speaking with people as well as reading online tells you a lot. There are some things that people will notice before science can prove it that we need to value just as much as scientific evidence.

    I think social media is important as a way to network, but we should not forget about other ways of learning. The internet is convinient, but not always best. This is not only for the north but just for us as a generation.

    • http://twitter.com/nikopartanen Niko Partanen

      I agree with you Bali, the traditional knowledge is important also for the sake of diversity. We cannot allow a monoglottic and monocultural world, there has to be variation and diversity, and space and acceptance for this even inside a single society.

      • Bali

        This is a problem throughout the world unfortunately. But I would like to see someone in Canada stand up and say “Hey, maybe there is value to these cultures even though we might have to change some of the ways WE do things instead of trying to make the north always be on the receiving end.” This is also true in the Yukon.

        • Anonymous

          Hi Bali and Niko,
          I find all of your thoughts and comments fascinating and in many ways reflecting my own, particularly the idea of having specialized systems for different regions. I think it could be taken even further than the timing of classes though. Why not incorporate much more action or interactive learning into the school curriculum. When I think back to my own education it was the trips and the projects that I remember and learned the most from. Why not bring students together with elders out on the land for a week or two as part of the grade 5, 6 and 7 curriculums? Why not walk students through projects where they are asked to go back to their community and hear and record the stories? Then take those stories and make them into a text book so students really see this is part of their history. Why not have online dialogue – using a comfortable format like facebook – between students from different communities across the north. Walking them through thinking together about questions like recycling programs, northern agriculture, waste disposal, student engagement, arctic security and problem solving so they learn from each other and find out that there are similarities and differences but that they are not alone.
          I’m sure there are programs like these out there and that there are teachers who are champions and if anyone has any examples I would love to hear about them.
          Thanks again

          • Jodi Gustafson

            I too was really interested to hear Bali’s example about students in Nunavut learning about forestry without ever seeing a tree. This made me think a bit about the Yukon’s curriculum, which similarly to what Bali wrote, is based off of British Columbia’s school system. However, I would say that the Yukon, in my opinion, has done a fairly good job in incorporating some ecological and local knowledge into the school system. In high school, a course on First Nations Art and Culture was offered in which we learned about and made several cultural art pieces from local First Nations. Furthermore, in terms of being active and out on the land, I know that in my elementary school, there was a teacher who took his class either moose or bison hunting each year, which I thought was really innovative. I wasn’t in that particular class growing up, but I remember all the students who were being really excited about all they learned on the hunt. Following the class, the teacher prepared the meat with them and they all ate it together. For many of them whose parents never took them out in the elements before, it was likely a very meaningful experience.

            In grade 9 in my high school, I joined a SASE (Science and Socials Experimental) class, in which our teacher took us out on many field trips to local areas. We learned to make snow quinzees, went on multi day kayak and hiking trips, and had various species from the local community come in and teach. Although this curriculum mainly taught outdoor awareness principles and general leave-no-trace camping morals, it was still very helpful for many and just got young people outside to connect with local areas.

            One major change that I believe could be made to the school system would be a change in the social sciences curriculum, to incorporate more about local history, and perhaps less detail about European history into teaching. I find that so few students are able to recount the basic local history of where they are from, whereas European historical events (while still majorly important) become common knowledge amongst high school students. I have to admit that for myself, I only learned about history such as the Bering Land Bridge theory once I reached university, and as a northern Canadian, I think that’s not quite right. Thus, I agree that tailoring a system for northern areas could be beneficial.

            In terms of preserving languages, I believe there has been some language school started here in northern Finland to preserve some Saami languages here. I have heard that this model was adopted from a similar system in New Zealand, where the Indigenous Maori people began daycares and other services with language only in Maori to ensure young people continue to speak it. I have heard that here in Finland it has had huge success. Nico, perhaps you know more about this?

          • Anonymous

            To learn more about the Saami University College: http://www.samiskhs.no/index.php?c=216&kat=International

            From what I have heard and read they are an excellent example of integrating traditional art, culture and language into a formal education system.

            I have also heard a bit about the Maori system and again part of the success is the school system which focuses on the language and culture but is open to anyone who would like to study it. ie. you don’t have to be Maori to want to learn it.

          • http://twitter.com/nikopartanen Niko Partanen

            Hi guys! I was actually supposed to spend a month last summer in this Saami University College, we had a group of four people going there for a Northern Sámi language course. We had a grant for it and everything organised, however, we were not selected for the course because we had all studied some Sámi languages before, and this was beginners course. Well, we would had been quite beginners anyway. ;) Anyway, this University is located in the village of Kautokeino, which is one of the places where the Northern Sámi is still spoken as a majority language. An extremely interesting place. I think this is pretty crucial that this kind of institutions are founded in the places where the local languages and cultures are still strongly alive.

          • http://twitter.com/nikopartanen Niko Partanen

            And this language nest program was indeed started by Maoris a long time ago. It has also been pretty effective among the Hawaiians. Inari Sámi started it several years ago, and there the experiences have been very positive. Later they were opened also in Karelia and Komi Republic, though here in Komi just starting this autumn.

          • http://twitter.com/nikopartanen Niko Partanen

            One thing I think would be important now is to compare the different language nests and to try to understand what kind of variables effect to the way how it works. I do not know actually if there are similar projects going on elsewhere in the circumpolar north, like in Canada or Alaska?

          • Jennifer Dagg

            I know of a few learning opportunities that are taking the best parts of western education systems and traditional on the land education. Dechinta bush university (http://dechinta.ca/) near Yellowknife K has done some really ground-breaking work on decolonization and provides great opportunities to learn from elders. I appreciate that this is open to people of all walks of life. I can’t learn a skill like tanning from my grandmother (but I have learned a lot of other important skills from her!). Another example is the Tundra Science Camp run by the Government of NWT for high school students. It’s held every summer, and is instructed by both western scientists and elders. A big part of the camp is hunting and trapping and survey of archeological sites, as well as biology, geology and geography. I was honored to be a part of it a few years ago, and met some exemplary youth. A third example was told to me by a friend who is a teacher in a small isolated NWT community of about 200 people. Whether or not this is a sanctioned event, in the fall the entire school is closed and students and teachers go out on the land with a number of community members to participate in the fall hunt. The teachers do some traditional teaching while they are out there, but they do a lot of learning as well. It’s an interesting chance to flip the traditional dynamic, and reverse the sometimes one-way flow of information that can happen at school.

    • http://twitter.com/nikopartanen Niko Partanen

      And you had good ideas about how the school system could adjust to the spring hunting season and cold winter days. I can well imagine that from the perspective of nation-wide education standards this would be a totally impossible change, even though from a local perspective it would make lots of sense. Indeed, instead of trying to imprint the same system everywhere we should adjust the system to the local conditions and try to achieve the best for all this way.

      In what kind of ways the teachers tried to bring the traditional knowledge to the classrooms? How it could had been taken there better in your opinion?

      • Bali

        Yes, agreed with the feds this will probably never happen. Nunavut actually learns the province of Alberta curriculum after a certain grade because the Gov of Nun hasn’t developed one yet, still however many years later. Means students who may have never even seen a tree before, are learning about forests etc. with it being assumed they know the basics, which they very well may not. Even in kindergarten you don’t have to teach me what a leaf or tree is, I just know because they are all around me, in Nunavut not the case, these kinds of assumptions in the education system must be making young people feel pretty stupid, when really its the system that is screwing them over not their intelligence.

        I think there is just a general failure on a lot of fronts on the education system in Nunavut. One is that they focus on numbers too much, which means that teachers graduate students that should not be, for the sake of making it look like at least a few people graduated. I have spoken with the heads of Aboriginal Advocacy Worker programs at some colleges in Alberta, they confirm that the majority of applicants they get from Nunavut they reject because some cannot write or read, yet still have a high school diploma.

        Another problem is high teacher turnover, its hard to built when people keep leaving. Also though, I think maybe its too hard to try and cram traditional knowledge into such a western system. Even when I look at this forum online, I think of all the youth who may not be participating because this is not the way they share or communicate best. I always see this at some conferences that pay to have some northern aboriginal youth who have never been away from home, to come and attend lectures, and I think of how foreign of an experience it must be to have someone sit and talk at you instead of sharing or developing some sort of common community first. At one conference all the of the youth left, and I thought it was more a failure on the people who expected them to fit into system that does not necessarily fit into the value system of their culture. So I guess what I am getting at is maybe we should start to develop a separate education system for traditional knowledge? Because I think shoving into a western model and expecting it to stick is just as foolish as almost everything the GN has done. Not sure when you would attend, maybe even revamp the curriculum or just take weeks out of the year where you forget about the gov curriculum and focus on IQ (GN abbreviation for trad.knowlege) instead. No idea, hoping other people who know more than me will have ideas! ;)

        • http://twitter.com/nikopartanen Niko Partanen

          Your example with the trees is wonderful, thanks for sharing it! It is very clear and obvious, even though something I would had probably never thought myself! The situation with the schools sounds very worrysome, it tells that something is going very wrong if the students are graduating without the basic skills they should have. In a way it is already very near corruption, even though it is understandable that it isn’t easy for those schools either. A school from which no student ever graduates is in many ways not even a school, but then if the students graduate without learning it nearens a theatre of some sort. It is dangerous, since it looks as if the things are working. It is very worrying that this kind of situation exists in such a well doing country as Canada. And it obviously will not be enough to just put more money into this topic, the whole situation has to be thoroughly understood. Is it generally acknowledged that the education system in Nunavut is having this kind of problems?

          I have never been in any Arctic conference, but I’ve participated a lot to different Finno-Ugric conferences, summer courses and seminars. There is every year a Finno-Ugric student conference IFUSCO, I was there couple of years ago when it was in Kudymkar. This time it will be in Estonia, and I’m surely attending with my presentation. Anyway, I think that often there are very important things happening outside the formal lectures and speeches. And this is something in which the organisators of an event very often totally fail, as an example, by providing accommodation in such a way that people have no place to spend the evenings together. Because of this it happens often that at the evenings people scatter around the area in small groups, and then many miss the chances to get to know each others. I’ve seen this happening countless of times in different countries. It also happens easily that there is so much formal program that there is not enough time to ask from everyone who they are and where do they come from etc. I think it is very simple and true that people, especially young, get more interested about different areas when they form friendships between people coming from those places. An academic lecture may now awoke this kind of interest, especially if a listener is not in the academic discourse in which the information is given.

          If I think this from the perspective of cooperation between the different organisations, I believe that most of the best ideas are got or at least developed the furthest in these informal settings. Many things we want to do here in Komi have started out just from the discussions in a bar or in someone’s home. Of course it is also important to bring these ideas to the official meetings, so that they are discussed at different levels. It is a very strong example which you gave, that those youngs just left the conference, and I think the most important thing then would had been to listen them carefully and to understand why they left, why they weren’t satisfied. What went wrong, what would had been interesting to them. I agree with you that it was indeed the failure of those who organised the event, not of those who left, even though it must be hard to admit for the organisators.

          Often in Russia this is even done purposefully so that those coming from Europe and those coming from Russia are put to totally different dormitories, thus minimalising all informal interaction. As if this would somehow “harm” something or someone. I’ve been in ridiculous situations where the milice is following us to the shop and back to the dormitory at the evenings, so that there is no danger that we would get lost or do something improper.

          Teacher turnover is surely a problem everywhere, also here in Komi many students who will be Komi teachers one day say that they are not interested about moving into a small village where there isn’t much to do and hardly even one working tv-channel. Some month ago one young Komi just gave a speech about this topic in large conference of Komi’s, stating that the villages also have to be developed if they want someone to move there. In Finland we have similar problem with the doctors. What they do is that the doctors are getting much bigger salaries in the countryside than in the cities, however, I don’t think this is the best solution either. This doesn’t make those who come genuinely interested about the area and it’s wellbeing, and it’s very likely that they just move elsewhere after earning a lot for some time.

          I also see this forum being advertised in Facebook and elsewhere, I understand it isn’t easy to activate people to share their thoughts, anyway, I think we are slowly getting to the point where people can send their ideas out there with few clicks on their phone. It is not happening yet, but I am optimistic about this direction.

          • Bali

            Don’t have a ton of time right now, but to answer your first question, there are stats released by the auditor general of Canada that undeveloped nations would have better numbers in than nunavut. THings like poverty and teenage pregnancy and graduation rates. No one in the rest of Canada blinked. The rest of Canada is ignorant of everything that goes on in Nunavut but I would like to believe that they would not be apathetic if they found out. I didn’t really know how bad things were even after the first time I visited, only when I spent more time did all the problems seem to come out. I think it is Canada’s dirty little secret.

            I agree that in conferences sometimes the best ideas are just from sitting at a restaurant with people and talking. No structure no “working groups” no committees! But I think this informal discussion is nice online, as hopefully if we both get picked to go to the IPY I look forward to meeting you because you sound like you have a lot of good ideas and I know basically nothing about the European arctic!

            I have to go to work but I will reread this later when I have more time.

  • http://twitter.com/nikopartanen Niko Partanen

    I think that the most our learning happens through other people. Of course there are people whose work, or part of it, is to teach you something, teachers and professors etc, but often it feels that in the long run I have learned the most from people who I have just met in my life. So I think in one part my learning comes from all my experiences in life, and some part comes from my studies and the things I’ve been reading. In a way all these things are not very clearly separable, yet the latter has of course usually had more specific focus. Also nowadays the things I read on my free time, the things I study in the University, and the things I discuss with the people I meet tend to be quite interentwined. However, many things I’ve been doing have not been very deeply connected to my studies, but brought me personal pleasure in other ways. I study linguistics with focus in the Finno-Ugric languages, but at the same time I’ve been working for many years with the disabled people. I’ve done this kind of work in Finland, and also for one year in Italy before I started my University studies. Through these works I’ve also met tons of interesting people and ended up to all kind of situations, from which I believe I have learned a lot. I think that people should seek more for different experiences in their lifes instead of merely pursuing some careers.

    I must say that I feel very close to my home region in the Eastern Finland. I love the region and its landscape, the way whole area is, but I do not feel that I would have ever been learning that much about it from my family or relatives who have been living there before me. As an example, I never learned properly the place names around my home, since I was never taking very much part to the activities which take you outside to the forests and lakes, like hunting and fishing. I lived on a farm, even though we didn’t have animals anymore in my youth, but I never learned very much about how one actually grows the things, how to seed and harvest. This kind of stuff was done around me, but for some reason I never learned it very concretely. I cannot blame anyone for that, and in a way I don’t feel I would have suffered from this, even though now when I’m older I’ve actually got more interested about the old practises. I think it is very important to try to maintain and document the kind of knowledge which is vanishing at the moment in different parts of the world, and the situation is surely much more acute in other places than from where I come from, as an example among different indigenous people. Generally it is a very difficult question how to manage with the losing of traditional knowledge systems based to the land and traditional subsistence methods. In this process we lose many ways to understand the world around us, how the nature works and what kind of relations a man can have into it. However, I think it is extremely important to remember that also those young people who are not continuing the local traditions have all the rights to call these areas their home, what they do there is in no way less important that has been traditionally done. Those will always be the places where they have grown up, and in many ways they must feel more familiar and more home than any other place. It is not fruitful to ask whose fault is this or that, but to look together for different ways how to modernisate without losing as much as these days is being lost in it.

    For me it is mainly through this familiarity with this Finnish countryside that I am interested to research other northern regions of the world. Many things I encounter are already somehow familiar to me. To live in Komi Republic feels in many ways very easy for me, many things are not that different from home. I like the familiarity in the nature around me. I could say that culture-wise it is a way much easier to live here than it was to live in Italy, as an example. Of course I also love to find myself from totally different environments, but in the end I think I will end up to live somewhere more north. For now I’ve got to know here in Syktyvkar lots of young Komis, discussed with them endlessly about their opinions and views to the current situations, and through all this started to understand better what is going on in this part of the world. Again this kind of things would had been impossible to learn in a classroom or from books. I think we have to create more opportunities for young people to meet this way, because through each others we can better understand what happens in our own homes as well.

    It has been very nice to see that in Russia people are very well connected to the internet. My own modem is totally crappy, but this is probably due only bad luck. Lots of people have a good internet connection in their phones, even much more than what we have in Finland. Of course these are things that tend to change in couple of years, but anyway they are here a bit ahead of us. The following article shows quite well how this may even have impact to the politics in future:


    • Bali

      “I think that people should seek more for different experiences in their lifes instead of merely pursuing some careers.”

      I could not agree more! I almost think people before they start uni or their new careers they should have to intern at a northern community or company and see how much it changes their perspective, good or bad, at least they would have the north on their radar screen. I find you either love it up here, or you hate it, no grey area! (Sometimes a bit of both at once though!)

      • http://twitter.com/nikopartanen Niko Partanen

        Yeah, exactly! I had that one year in Italy before I started the University, and before this I worked one year in Helsinki for my civil service (what people do in Finland if they don’t go to the army). This made me start the University several years older, but I think this was just very good for me. I just so badly needed those couple of years just living my life and trying out different things, I feel I wouldn’t had done any well in University if I had gone there straight from my village. I think in many countries people start the University too early, so that they do not yet know the best what they really want to do. Then they graduate on their early 20′s, but I don’t believe that’s worth of it. Of course the governments are pushing people to graduate fast so that they can start to work and pay taxes, but I think it is better that young people are given enough time to grow up and learn by themselves what they want to do, and the most importantly to learn in which way they want to live.

  • http://twitter.com/nikopartanen Niko Partanen

    Hi all! In some hours I’m starting a trip to Siberia, and if I’m totally cut off from the internet I think I cannot participate very much to our discussion. However, I will try my best to read what happens here. When I tried to post here through my phone I couldn’t somehow get my message sent here, but I will try again later. I was supposed to go some days ago already, but then my route changed a bit. Enjoy your conversations, take care!

  • http://facebook.com/dinorudniski Dino Rudniski

    .net 101

    I remember in elementary school, the class was assigned to bring a news story the next day. Most student had an article from a news paper, and some from the television. Though one of my classmates had used the Internet to research a news story, that was retrieved a couple hours before school, and was the latest piece of news. At that very moment I had a feeling of empowerment, even though I wasn’t the one who had used a computer, thinking wow I can use a computer to find something right then and there.

    The advancements, and availability of technology has produced a new wave of conducting ones self on a computer. Social networks are re-writing the book as being the new source of news, where information is provided and suggested by peers. This surge of publication is continuously improving and is proving itself as the main stay for people surfing the net.

    In regards to tradition and science, they are two of the same thing. Like both in the modern times they have developed core attributes, though at essence they were a tool to embark upon the unknown. Tradition is passed down, mythical stories to keep people searching for answers. Science also had questions for answers to follow, though the science taught in the school system today isn’t science, it’s history of discovery.

    Most things in the school system isn’t about all learning styles, it’s about one style that fits all. This is setting a percentage of students up to fail, not because they can’t learn what’s going on, it’s because the method of teaching doesn’t address their needs. With the improvement of computer networks this problem can be a thing of the past.

    There are now lectures on-line that can potentially switch how things are done in the classroom. Instead of having the lectures in class, they can be assign as homework for the day before. And what had originally been planned for homework can be done in class, where students can work together as the teacher walks around helping anyone with a question. This will humanize the classroom, according to Salman Khan, the founder of Khan Academy, a web site that provides world-class education for free.

    • Anonymous

      Wow Dino that is great. I love the idea of switching the lectures with the homework! We are after all social beings and we learn much more from each other and working out problems as a group then from listening to someone talk for an hour. Is this happening in schools already? how much do you think internet bandwidth is a limitation to this kind of learning structure in the North?

      I really think there are so many ways we could make learning better and more interactive and in this way more accessible for all different kinds of learners.

      • http://facebook.com/dinorudniski Dino Rudniski

        The internet isn’t initially a bad thing, like all technology they are there to make things easier and to free up time. Though an excess amount of time without a focus is like not having any additional time.

        Say for example I am surfing the internet and I could sent a couple letters via e-mail, watch a couple lectures on an interesting topic, and also check who’s on a social network to make plans for the evening or weekend.

        I send the e-mails in a matter of minutes and spend twenty minutes on two lectures. And instead of just making plans to go do something with someone on my social network, I start chatting with one or more of my friends and the time goes past the evening.

        Time management is definitely an issue with the internet, because the more time you spend on the internet, it not only could be a wast of time, it can also cost a lot more for the bandwidth.

        • http://facebook.com/dinorudniski Dino Rudniski

          Here is a link about Khan Academy:

        • Anonymous

          this is true but there is also the benefit in terms of relationship building that the chatting allows. It can definitely be a time suck but if you were all sitting together in your kitchen chatting would you think of it in the same way. Bandwidth can also definitely be an issue though. particularly when you are paying for it!

          • http://facebook.com/dinorudniski Dino Rudniski

            well, it depends what you want in life, whether it is surfing in virtual reality, or on an ocean. I would rather spend more time in the physical world. But there are benefits to bandwidth because of new opportunities provided on the internet.

  • Jodi Gustafson

    When discussing where our knowledge comes from and the growing relationship between traditional ecological knowledge and scientific knowledge, I find it extremely interesting how the two relate, and how they both contribute to each other. The other day I was reading this article, just published this October (found at http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v478/n7368/full/478182a.html) and I loved the following quote, because it really illustrated to me how great the linkage between these knowledge types can be. The quote is from researcher Henry Huntington:

    “In 2010, I attended a meeting in northern Quebec, Canada, at which Peter Kattuk, an Inuit hunter from Sanikiluaq in Hudson Bay, noted that the seals he had caught that winter had shrimps instead of fish in their stomachs, and tended to sink rather than float in the water. I felt the observation was important, but I lacked the knowledge to see why. A few days later, I mentioned Kattuk’s observations to Eddy Carmack, an oceanographer at Fisheries and Oceans Canada in Victoria, British Columbia. He recognized them as early warning signs of a food web ‘flip’ in Hudson Bay, which might otherwise have taken years to detect. Once Kattuk and Carmack made contact, the real exchange began” (2011).

    In addition to traditional ecological knowledge adding to scientific knowledge, I believe that through programs like the Northern Contaminants Program, scientific knowledge benefits those who give traditional knowledge. For example, all of the findings of the Northern Contaminants Program are published for northerners to determine the rates of harmful contaminants in their traditional foods. Hence, I think that when discussing different knowledge types, it’s important to not see one type as more important than the other, but rather see the important relationships that exist between the two.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Jodi – I totally agree that it is a matter of using both sources of knowledge to better our over all understanding of a system or species or region and I think that a mutual respect and collaboration between elders and scientists is key to making this work.
      I wonder in your experience what can we do to make sure that this respect and collaboration happens?

      • Jodi Gustafson

        Hi Ookpik,

        I actually had a really interesting discussion with one of my professors, Florian Stammler, here at the Arctic Centre in Lapland, about this topic the other day. We were discussing how it is actually anthropologists that are playing an increasingly important role in facilitating such discussions between western science and traditional ecological knowledge holders.

        I think that anthropologists who have heavily studied a culture, or community liaison officers who live within the given community, play a really important role today in ensuring collaboration happens respectfully while ethical guidelines are adhered to. Without such a connection, I can understand how TEK possessors may be really reluctant to share their vast knowledge of their homelands. We have all heard stories in the past of various groups of Indigenous people around the world being taken advantage of after sharing traditional knowledge with western researchers. An example is sad tales such as the sharing of a sacred medicinal remedy being followed by massive extraction of the special ingredient in one’s homeland and the profit thereafter by large pharmaceutical companies. I understand how stories or experiences such as this can make some TEK possessors leary to open up to western researchers about the vast knowledge they possess of their homelands. Risks such as exploitation of one’s knowledge or of a disrespect of the manner in which it is collected, must be considered.

        However, I think that the priority placed on ensuring ethical guidelines are adhered to in collaboration is not yet where it should be. When you look at the funding breakdown for a climate change research project, so little is allocated to the anthropological sector of the report, whereas the majority of funds are allocated to the natural sciences. Researcher Susan Crate wrote a really fascinating article about the ever-increasing role of anthropologists when it comes to bridging TEK and western science in a 2008 article called “Gone the Bull of Winter” after her work with the Villui Sakha people of the Sakha Republic in Russia. Upon reading her article, it got me thinking about issues such as compensation for TEK, something I had never thought of before. Really, it made me question how TEK holders benefit when they open up to climate scientists. Perhaps some of the other contributors to this forum have some examples of this?

        I think that often climate science researchers lack the social and cultural skills when it comes to gathering TEK, whereas anthropologists who spend years studying a culture have the skills needed to make for successful dialogue between the two groups. Community liaison workers do the same, as they have more precise skills of how to interact in an appropriate manner with a certain group. Therefore, I think there will be an increasing demand for anthropologists to facilitate TEK gathering in the near future.

        Another aspect that often goes unconsidered when it comes to TEK and science collaborations is the fact that many of the western terms we use in climate change discourse in North America, where most co-management and collaborative efforts occur, may hold no significance to Indigenous peoples elsewhere. My professors, anthropologist Florian Stammler and natural scientist Bruce Forbes, here at the Arctic Centre in Lapland, wrote a really great article on this in 2009 after several visits and research conducted with Nenets nomadic reindeer herders in regions of Northern Russia. Their article, (found at this address and really worth a read: http://arcticcentre.ulapland.fi/docs/ForbesStammler+2009.pdf) explains how terms we use in climate change science such as “TEK” are unfamiliar to Nenets people for example, even when translated into their own language. Traditional knowledge there is thought of less as a sector of knowledge and more as just a way of life, and thus, western scientific definitions hold no significance to locals. This helpful proactive quote from their article exemplifies that:

        “If TEK is to be a research topic, we advise against seeking evidence for traditional knowledge “as enframed in the discourse of modernity” (Ingold & Kurttila 2000: 184), and recom- mend instead efforts to understand traditional knowledge “as generated in the practices of locality” (Ingold & Kurttila 2000: 184; Kitti et al. 2006). Recog- nition of this subtle but critical dichotomy is essential to avoid imposing exogenous constructs, and could be con- sidered a first step in the development of ethical, locally relevant research”

        They suggest that collaborative techniques should be tailored to each region where one is seeking traditional knowledge, rather than using a “one size fits all” approach across the board of very diverse Arctic cultures. I agree and think that more climate research project developers should consider this before planning a trip to a community to gain TEK for a report.

        To end on a positive note, I think that one of the best examples of the sharing of TEK has been via Indigenous groups role as permanent participants at Arctic Council meetings. I think that the reason the collaboration happens so successfully here is because of the position and voice Indigenous groups are given in such a situation. Within the Arctic Council, Indigenous groups are not only able to share and voice their vast knowledge of their homelands, but are also able to share how such changes are AFFECTING their people, which is extremely important and may not be portrayed in a discussion with a climate science researcher and an elder; a climate researcher in the field may solely be seeking cold, hard facts regarding environmental changes one observes, and may not be interested at all in how those climatic changes are actually affecting the people who live in the region. This can make the collaboration have somewhat of an exploitative aspect to it.

        All in all, I think the increased collaboration we’re seeing between TEK and western science has the potential to benefit society, and really empower Indigenous people. At the same time, a heavy emphasis needs to be placed on having anthropologists, community liaison workers and others ensure the interaction and collaboration occurs in a fair manner.

        • http://twitter.com/Meagatronski Meagan Grab

          Hi Jodi and Oopik!

          I think you bring up a really important discussion regarding collaboration between scientists and Indigenous people. There are some really great projects that have happened and are happening in the Canadian Arctic, such as Ecological Studies and Environmental Monitoring at Bylot Island Sirmilik National Park (http://www.cen.ulaval.ca/bylot/inuitknowledge-intro.htm). In this case researchers held semi-directed interviews and focus groups with local Indigenous people and used the information to compare and support trends seen in the ecological data. For example, there was a lot of information exchanged about the habits of arctic foxes, and how some spent the majority of their winter living in the marine ecosystem rather than the terrestrial, following polar bears and eating carrion. The program itself is also a continuous one, so potential for continual discussion and collaboration is there.

          I also like your point on the importance of other fields in TEK, you point out anthropology in particular. I think, as early career polar researchers, it is to our advantage to take as interdisciplinary education opportunities as possible. If we all become knowledgeable in a variety of fields applicable to the north, from ecology to history to anthropology to sociology to economics, I think we can be better stewards of the north. When we can step back and look at the whole social-ecological system, more informed research can take place. So for now the best research situation is when all the experts of a variety of scientific and social fields are involved, but my hope for the future is towards interdisciplinary research.

          • Anonymous

            Hi Jodi and Meagan,
            great points and fascinating discussion! I think your points on interdisciplinary approaches is particularly important and something we should all be striving for. Working on education helps health. Working health helps the environment. Working on the environmental helps economic development. All of these sectors are interconnected and we need to learn from each other and understand the relationships better to support the system overall. Silos mean that learning and action get lost and are not as effective as they could be.
            Why is anthropology not a more common focus of climate adaptation funding? As you have mentioned there is a lot that can be learned from both the research and the approach.
            Thanks Jodi also for your perspectives on the permanent participants in the Arctic council. This is the first time I have heard this described in such a clear way and it really emphasises the value of this approach.
            I look forward to reading what you both have to say about question #3 – action.
            Best Ookpik

          • Sarah Arnold

            Hi Jodi, Ookpik, and Meagan!

            Wow, what a great discussion – made me sorry I’m coming into it a bit late. But you really mirrored some thoughts that I’d had on the collection, transcription and distribution of traditional knowledge. For instance…

            Does writing down verbal knowledge change it – somehow ‘science-ize’ or sanitize it? Writing allows us to keep knowledge (e.g. after the death of an elder); but it can never be true or complete in only that format. We need to ensure that we use all forms of knowledge preservation at our disposal – recordings of interviews or discussions with elders, writings, photographs, artwork, maps. And, importantly, we need to make sure that the knowledge that we do collect is safely stored, maintained and archived. I’ve heard horror stories of tapes from years of interviews conducted by CBC Nunavut being lost; and even in my own work, I’ve seen information that we’ve collected sit dusty and forgotten because it’s not accessible or remembered. So I feel that projects such as the now on-hold Nunavut heritage centre would not just benefit cultural institutions, they would benefit scientific ones as well.

            Then, Jodi mentioned the problem of terminology, which I’ve seen in action (try explaining “non-detriment finding” – it’s difficult enough in English!). But one major concern that I have is how translation affects knowledge. At one community meeting that I was involved in, the word “estimate”, in a science presentation, was translated to “guess”…hardly the same thing. Then later on, one of the presenting organisations was inadvertently characterised as Greenpeace sympathisers, despite having no connection – resulting in a major backlash from the community, and reams of explanations. So, collaboration will only occur if you can first have proper communication. Obviously, it’s not realistic to expect every scientist to learn the language local to their research site (it took me 8 years of lessons and several years living in Quebec to gain even a semblance of bilingualism…and I had the desire and passion to learn). But a lot more could be done to support basic second language learning, particularly for people who relocate permanently.

            Similarly, an important point that Jodi made is that anthropologists tend to live in the culture that they’re studying. Natural scientists, however, are often separate from culture – particularly in Arctic research, where you may be cloistered at a camp hundreds of kilometres from any human settlement. I think it’s essential that anyone coming in to conduct research should try to experience the local life as much as possible, to gain, if not knowledge, a glimpse of the reality. In any case, from my experience, all the real business is done outside of office hours, while fishing at someone’s cabin!

            Meagan, I agree that interdisciplinary research is essential as we try to solve the far-reaching problems such as climate change; but it needs to be done in a comprehensive and forward-thinking fashion. I was involved in a study that conducted a survey of various homesteads of the Maasai people in Kenya. The study was run by a group of researchers with diverse research interests (health, education, social change, economics). It was very interesting, but in the end, a good portion of the data was of limited or no use, because the survey hadn’t been properly designed to answer each of the researchers questions. So simply including an anthropologist or local knowledge in climate adaptation research isn’t enough; the various needs of all the participants need to be considered and accounted for (e.g. ensuring that communities receive feedback on studies in which they’ve participated, and that they have the opportunity to suggest changes for future work).

            Finally, Jodi brought up is the lack of policy regarding sharing traditional knowledge. In the scientific world, there are protocols for sharing academic knowledge, and acknowledging sources – so what happens when someone’s in-depth understanding of their environment is written on a blog or article and read by someone on the other side of the world? (My example was going to be the same as Jodi’s – pharmaceutical giants profiting off the back of local botanical knowledge). One positive step is the development of the Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing under the Convention on Biological Diversity (http://www.cbd.int/abs/), which aims to define the rights of local knowledge-holders, particularly with respect to genetic resources.

          • Jennifer Dagg

            This is such an interesting discussion on TEK or TK. The whole concept of TK being different or separate than other knowledge is definitely a western projection, and something we should be aware of when using the terms.
            I would echo what Sarah Arnold said: there are a lot of great examples of TK and western science being used collaboratively. We are arriving at a point where we are no longer using only one system of knowledge for environmental and cultural research in the north. However, there are still challenges in truly and meaningfully integrating these systems. There has to be an acknowledgement that sometimes we are speaking different languages from each other, and that our goals are not always the same. Scientists sometimes seek knowledge for the sake of understanding, while traditional knowledge tends to be linked to some practical activity or purpose. So, we need to respect that neither of these systems is wrong or better than the other, but simply that they may have their place at different times and for different purposes.
            It’s an interesting thought to bring in anthropologists as facilitators between scientists and community members. I’ve seen some examples of pretty terrible conduct on behalf of some physical scientists who parachute into a community, collect the date they want and leave, without ever reporting back on the results. I’ve also seen northerners invited to academic conferences where they sat in a stuffy room with no translation services, and watched powerpoint after powerpoint full of graphs and tables, narrated with jargon and acronyms. That kind of information is hard to digest even when you have a formal academic background.
            I think we need to focus on how the information is communicated. As Sarah said, there are some stories of terrible misuse of TK. My experiences working with some knowledge holders in NWT is that they are very careful about whom they share information with. However, they also recognize that if they don’t share it, it will be gone when they pass on. I feel like technology can provide us with different ways to share information, and can allow some TK to be kept in perpetuity. However, this raises a number of questions that I can’t answer: given the long oral history of TK, does it change when it is converted to text? Should personal TK be spread through a medium like the internet? Does the medium change the value of the message?
            TK used to be essential to survival. Now, it has to be an active choice- we must have to want to learn it and incorporate it into our lives. I think that, using care, we can creatively use technology to share and amplify the importance of TK while respecting the rights of knowledge holders.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Mackenzie/1259479406 Joe Mackenzie

    For years, the influence of western culture has affected the traditional way of life of my Tlicho people of the Northwest Territories. In the past, Tlicho elders actively passed down ancient knowledge about the land and the wildlife the people need to live on. Now a days it’s up to us young people learn this knowledge and keep our way of life going so we could pass it on to our children. However, thanks to the mordern world of technology like cars, vidoe games, the internet, TVs, electricity, and ipods have become on a huge impact on young because we do see them alot in the media. Since using all this high tec gear is not great for the enviroment, and my culture but it does make our lives easyer.

    One time my dad told me a story about our traditional drum dance that our people have been doing for more than one thousand years and how important it is to have in our lives. Whenever there is a drumdance in my town I’d would just go do the dance. I love it when I see that there is a thousand tlicho people doing the dance and it makes me feel very power like a river. Nothing can stop a rivr from flowing not even a river damn all it does is slow down the river. Right now my cultrue is slowing down thanks that danm and how the climate is making a bit harder for my people since the wildlife is indanger from climate change.

    I have to do what I can to help my culture survive by going on caribou hunts and its harder to do so since the herd’s number are going down slowly. Also the drum dance is very important one too. It may not look that awesome like hip-hop dancing but it is something to remember once you have seen it. By helping out my community it makes me a colllectivist not an individualist that believes in capitalism.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Joe thanks for this, you make me want to go to the drum dance in your town.
      I wonder though if there are ways we can use technology to maintain and promote tradition and culture. In question 1, Niko Partanen posted a link to groups who are using Twitter to support and revitalize indigenous languages: http://indigenoustweets.blogspot.com/
      Also social media and networking allows us to raise issues and have a voice in a way that was never possible before. I think there is definitely a balance and nothing is ever going to replace the drum dance but I think there are ways we can use technology to help us as well.

  • Vanessa Mimialik

    Today 2011, oue elder’a say that it’s harder to monitor out weather to day because it changes in a flash..but we “New Generation” depend on scientific knowledge like the weather forecast.Although traditional knowledge is important but seems like the scientific is more important for us younger generations,because we depend on electronics now. I get my information on line, the Internet. I communicate with my internet with my friends and family, but I try limit myself with electronics.I know this is effecting our climate too but it seems like it’s our only resource today..”Computer’s”..they use a lot of energy that is diposed to our environment.So in this case I try use my time limit on the computer..”20 minutes”!

    • Anonymous

      Hi Vanessa, I wonder do you think that a lot of the traditional knowledge is going to be lost with the new technology and computer generation? And is it important to you to keep it somehow or is this a normal part of our changing world?

  • Anonymous

    On behalf of Tetra Otokiak from Cambridge Bay who posted this on the Ookpik facebook site (https://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=100000327257444) :

    well my knowledge comes from everybody that has culture, well im in square dancing and drum dancing and i also know how to throut sing, knowlede to me is what i want to do, not what poeple pick for me, i want whats best for me, i’ve perfomed for all 3 things i’ve done and i am loving it.. people should be more interasted in inuit culture, being part of a little population of 1477 i want everyone to hear what i have to say… thanks for reading

    Tetra Otokiak
    Cambridge Bay Nunavut

  • http://www.facebook.com/dayna.dickson2 Dayna Dickson

    Traditional Knowledge is GREATLY important to me. It’s known as TK where I’m from and it is important to our people. Traditional knowledge is like breathing for me Traditional knowledge is important to every person in Canada. In my words it provides my strength. It’s like my backup. It’s a strength in my own way to know what the earth is. It explains many things I don’t know or how a place looks, Traditional Knowledge or knowing what a salt lick is, or why caribou shed their wool off of their horns at a certain time of the seasons. Traditional Knowledge provides me with that knowledge. It is a very important logistic in my life. I get my information from my dad or grandma. It is brought down from generation to generation. I communicate my knowledge to my friends or family by explaining to them of what I learn from school, the scientific knowledge. I can teach the traditional knowledge towards my friends in school by sharing them of what I learned in school or from my traditional knowledge, I can tell them of what i learned from the land. Scientific knowledge plays a vital role in my life also. It provides me with knowledge so that I can get a job in the near future. A environmental sciences field possibly. All of this in combination helps me with the decisions I make today is very valuable also. It makes things make sense. I can relate to that certain thing or person. It all effects my life and i sincerely appreciate the things i learn from both Traditional and Scientific knowledge.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Danyna – thanks very much for this. I really like your opening couple of sentences and how strong they are, they’ve been posted on the ookpik facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=100000327257444)

      my question for you is: do most of the people you know feel the same about the importance of traditional knowledge or is this value and understanding being lost in many people from today’s younger generation?

      • Daynadickson1

        Do most of the people I know feel the same about the importance of traditional knowledge? In some ways the people I know feel the same is sometimes expresses through different tradtional exercises. The people who i admire are ones that truly love their culture and have responsonibility to change and think through strong and different ideas. Elders have an exact mental and physical toughness to appreciate the land and everything it has to offer. Overall yes the people i know feel the same about traditional knowledge. The value and understanding being lost in many people from today’s younger generation is a tough question because there is many advantages and disadvantages to that question. Its mostly to my opinion that I do think a majority have a tendency to get lost in the midst of modern technology and everything in the media. It also has an advantage is becuase there is so many new technology to benefit our way of life that we didn’t have access to in the past. There is alot of youth too in today’s generation that are tough both mentally and physically to achieve their dreams.

  • http://twitter.com/Meagatronski Meagan Grab

    I agree with many below that traditional knowledge is of the utmost importance, and especially that a fusion of traditional knowledge and ongoing research will produce the most effective answers to problems presented by climate change in the north. As a university graduate, much of the way I obtain knowledge is done through the academic venue. Through colleagues and mentors, in both class work and field work during the summers, I got to know sources of reliable scientific information and how to find them.

    Despite my years of education (in southern Canada and northern Norway), my base knowledge of comes from my family, my father in particular. As an avid hunter and outdoorsman, he informed many of my opinions about ethical and sustainable hunting, respecting the land and no-trace camping, and general gratefulness to live in such an amazing place. There are several other mentors in my life who share their experience and thoughts with me on environment, community and climate change, for which I am very grateful for. I think a fostering of these types of relationships between the generations is key.

    I communicate to my friends and family casually, when I learn something interesting or find out something I share it with them and it usually results in a good discussion! I take great importance in sharing with those willing to have a chat, because too often information is kept within certain sectors such as academia. Not everyone has the time to search for academic papers and read them especially when each discipline has its own jargon. Posting interesting articles to email groups, websites such as apecs.is, or even my facebook page are other ways I communicate the things I’m learning/interested in. Although, in a time of information overload, face to face talks are what keeps me sharing and growing.

    I hope to be lucky enough to use all I have learned to contribute to my community, through both work and personal life. This has thankfully worked out so far!

    To answer OokpikIlitsimajuq’s question below
    Also when we think about knowledge and learning, why is there no University based in Northern Canada when other Circumpolar countries have managed to get northern focused learned institutions up and running?

    I think the main halt to a university based in northern Canada is organization and funding. Firstly, from my experience there is very little coordination between research groups (universities, government organizations, etc), research stations such as Polar Continental Shelf Program or Arctic Institute of North America, and communities. Certain labs have certain protocols they are used to following and research has been conducted ad-hoc like this since it started in the north. I think if there was a specific organization for northern research, such as Norway has the Norwegian Polar Institute, research and knowledge would be able to span the Canadian Arctic in a logical way and a university base would be more clear and plausible. As of now, everything seems too individualized to group that a cross-Arctic institution wouldn’t be whole. Secondly, many other circumpolar countries have put the funding towards northern education whereas the opportunity for this doesn’t seem to be in the near Canadian future from my perspective.


    • Anonymous

      Hi Meagan,

      thank you very much for your thoughtful insights. I am especially interested in your thoughts on the Northern Based University in Canada. I wonder do you think the lack of a northern based institution it is a real barrier to education in the north? ie are the costs and coordination efforts required worth the benifits to northern communities? or does working with southern based institutions the way things are now fill the need?

      thanks Ookpik

      • Micah Quinn

        The creation of a Canadian ‘Arctic University’ is a big topic in northern academic circles these days. I know the President of Yukon College recently met with the President of the other two northern colleges (Aurora in NWT) and Nunavut Arctic to discuss this very issue. A significant part of my M.Ed. research was on this very topic. On so many levels, its creation would go a long way to addressing capacity building and other challenges related to upward social mobility. Having northern Canada as a ‘knowledge source’ rather than relying on southern universities for training our much needed professionals would not only alleviate the ‘brain drain’ of our best and brightest, but would also allow individuals truly interested in working in the North to be trained in an appropriate environment. High turnover of our northern professionals and educators only reinforces a culture of distrust stemming from the days of residential schools and does so on overwhelmingly racial lines.
        The combined population of the 3 northern territories is just over 100,000 people. While this population in itself is large enough to support a university, the challenge of course is the vast geography and red-tape associated with 3 separate jurisdictions. I believe the geography can be overcome as it has in Australia’s Northern Territory (Charles Darwin University operates over it’s vast area and similar population). The challenge is coordinating 3 separate Canadian territorial governments and education systems. I also believe there is much that can be taken from the University of Alaska’s model with several campuses in various communities around the state.
        My vision of a Canadian ‘Arctic university’ would be to have 3 main campuses, one in each of Whitehorse, Yellowknife, and Iqaluit offering northern focused schools of medicine, law, education, etc, as well as various undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The existing colleges would continue to provide their invaluable contributions in other areas such as trades, upgrading, and continuing education. I believe this will happen in some form but it is likely still some 10-20 years away.
        In relevance to the climate issue, I know the Yukon Research Centre is already doing some excellent work in developing cold climate technologies. One of its latest projects is a year-round greenhouse. Although not yet cost effective. its goals of reducing Yukon’s reliance on winter food importation, saving us money and reducing our carbon footprint.

      • http://twitter.com/Meagatronski Meagan Grab

        Hi Ookpik and Micah,

        Thanks for the replies! I do think a lack of a northern based institution is a barrier to education in the north because not everyone is willing/able to leave their home and family to attend post-secondary in the south. I think the assembly of a northern university would be worthwhile, but agree with Micah that it would have to be several campuses to cover the whole north.

        I think there are bigger issues that need to be addressed before a southern-style university is established in the North. There is a need for different programming and coursework than is regularly available and taught, especially when it comes to teaching in northern cultures. I think a large reason why fewer indigenous people (around the circumpolar) attend university is not just due to access but also the relevance of post-secondary in their traditional cultures. Wilkins et al. (2009, http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-003-x/2008001/article/10463-eng.pdf) points out in Table 2 that in Inuit-inhabited areas, the percent of non-Aboriginal people in these areas completing post-secondary (34%) is above average for total Canada (15%), but the proportion of Inuit/Aboriginal people completing post-secondary is extremely lower (0.9%, 4%). I think this indicates deeper social issues and priorities of cultural relevance, communication of needs, and empowerment of youth. There is a great opportunity to include communities and leaders in localized curriculum development.

        From an academic perspective I agree with Micah as well that the high turnover of profs etc doesn’t exactly inspire academic stability. I’m not sure what the solution for this might be, as from what I’ve learned it is most advantageous in an academic career to conduct research/teach at large, well-established institutions with big reputations. Maybe incentives for researchers who are in the north in the summer to stay in the north for the winter, like a northern residency grant, would promote more established connections? Or a greater emphasis on competitive publication for northern resident researchers?

  • http://www.facebook.com/qijuarjuk Alex Cook

    Today, traditional knowledge is still as relevant as it was 50 years ago; albeit, we have adapted with the changing climate. What I mean to say is that listening to an elder talk on the subject of how to properly track a caribou, or how to make a perfectly waterproof pair of seal skin kamiks to hunt in is as relevant now as it was 50 years ago. This aspect of our culture should remain constant in this generation of variability. I emphasize the word culture in the sense that if we can’t remember the subtleties of our customs, how can we possibly expect to remember who we are as a people? To me, for our people, traditional knowledge is an understanding and a way of life. The knowledge that any society carries is passed down and refined for generations upon generations; essentially tailoring it to the specific needs of that society. In our case our traditional knowledge teaches us how to live in harmony with one of the most unforgiving regions on earth.

    Before I run the risk of sounding like a purist, I would like to make it perfectly clear that this is not in any way to say that scientific knowledge is less credible in any way. To the contrary, scientific knowledge is essential in this day and age; most definitely in our society, where the implications of climate change are most noticeable. Without scientific knowledge we would not be to even begin to understand how or even why our world is changing. We would not know how to hinder this change. Thankfully, because of scientific knowledge the whole world has been made aware of the issue of climate change.

    Thankfully the two have a medium, technology. We can use simple tools like youtube and facebook to spread opportunities to learn about both types of knowledge. It is a simple “google” away to learn about how climate change is affecting the Earth, what people are doing to stop it, and simple things that we can do to help prevent further degradation of our world.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Alex – thanks for this I am really seeing a theme in many people’s thinking on the need to maintain and share both traditional knowledge and scientific knowledge.

      I wonder though as technology helps us spread and share science or news in such quick bursts of information are we still spending the time it takes to sit down and listen to our elders?

  • Anonymous

    I get my traditional knowledge from my family and community. I also like to read literature from the early 1900′s based on voyages in the northern Labrador area. I take in every opportunity I get to learn from my elders and parents on my Inuit culture. I participate in cultural events and practice as much of my culture as I can on my own.
    I get my scientific knowledge from participating in programs like the kANGIDLUASUk student program which operates out of the Torngat Mountains National Park base camp. It is here where I got my first taste of climate change research. For 4 weeks I had the opportunity to help the researches in their field work which consisted of detecting permafrost in certain areas, setting up weather stations on an isolated glacier, mapping sea animal food webs and the like. I also participated in Schools on Board where I once again got to study climate and other things aboard the Amudsen down the coast of Labrador. Then, I was given the opportunity to speak on behalf Inuit youth at Artic Net’s Youth Climate Change forum in Fort Whyte where I learned even more about climate change research in the arctic, not specific to northern Labrador. I continue to learn by engaging with researches who are in and out of Nain, my home town.
    I share my culture at Memorial University by getting involved with the Aboriginal population and we hist events that educate the non Aboriginal (and Aboriginal) population about the different cultures in our province of Newfoundland and Labrador. I also like to talk to my friends about the Inuit culture and I tend to share about it at any opportunity that I’m given :)
    I mostly share my scientific knowledge with friends. I have written some articles for newspapers, and I have gone into my old highschool to give presentations on the various programs that I have been fortunate enough to participate in. Like my culture, I usually take any opportunity to share my scientific knowledge with people that I know.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Caitlyn, I am impressed with your experiences and the opportunities that you have had. I wonder by being this engaged yourself have you encouraged other northerners to join the types of programs and opportunities?

  • Sarah Arnold

    I often feel there’s an attitude that things have to either be approached in the ‘traditional’ way, or the ‘scientific’ way, and I don’t think that’s the case. I think science and traditional knowledge are equally important and, critically, complementary – because neither is 100% right, 100% of the time. Science can find and analyze a microscopic particle, about which we might not otherwise know because it can’t be sensed by our ears, eyes, etc. Traditional knowledge, on the other hand, can provide us with often more practical applications as well as nuances and subtleties that would not be apparent in a journal article. Furthermore, traditional knowledge can often integrate these details into an overall view in a way that science, with its specialized disciplines is not always able. Conversely, however, traditional knowledge, particularly because of the ways in which it is communicated (i.e. by living it), is highly contextualized – while science puts things in a standardized language and system that allows information to be exchanged between different cultures, environments and even, to some extent, languages.

    So if science and traditional knowledge are simply different ways of looking at the same world, I feel that the most important thing is to keep an open mind and to constantly be learning, in whatever fashion. I am university educated, and plan on doing my MSc in a few years. But besides that, I’m learning every day. For instance, just tonight, I finished making my first pair of sealskin mitts (or pualuuq, as I also learnt today!)…and I don’t think I’ve ever before been as proud of something that I’ve made! My teacher, a friend’s mother, told me that I was now Inuk; and even though I can’t agree, it was a fabulous compliment!

    Because I also don’t feel that to have traditional knowledge you necessarily have to have a strong cultural heritage. I, like everyone else here, have listened to my grandparents stories of “how things were in their day”, have learnt “how the world works” from my experiences and from interactions with friends, family, and even strangers on the street. Additionally, I’m lucky enough to have travelled fairly widely – to every Australian state, to South Africa, Europe, North America and elsewhere. So maybe I’m not Inuk (or Australian Aboriginal, Zulu, French, First Nations…), but I do have a wide body of knowledge, experience and understanding. Most importantly, I’m able to make connections – to see similarities, differences, changes, problems, possibilities. Moreover, I’m constantly amazed at how much of this ‘absorbed’ knowledge I’ve retained…sometimes, I think, more than I’ve remembered of my studies (I can no longer do any of my high school calculus; but I can identify a marri tree from a jarrah at the drop of a hat, thanks to childhood bushwalks with my dad). Maybe that’s really what traditional knowledge is – it’s knowledge that you don’t know that you know, at least until you need it.

    So I feel that traditional knowledge can teach science one essential thing – the art (and science!) of communication. Too often in science or in bureaucracy there’s a tendency towards jargon, theoretical minutiae, and verbosity (hopefully not in this post!), which can in fact hinder, rather than assist, communication and subsequent action. We’re so lucky to have tools such as the internet at our disposal to help us overcome such barriers (witness this forum), but we need to take every opportunity. Having had to describe my new home to friends and family both in southern Canada and Australia, I’ve come to realise how much of a barrier miscommunication and misinformation can be. I haven’t yet had to repond to the “Do you live in igloos?!” question, but nevertheless, I’m always so grateful to talk to someone who asks intelligent questions, and most importantly, really wants to hear my answers, to learn more. We need to ‘talk’ more – whether that be via email, Skype, SMS, snail mail or in person – because with every conversation, we grow our collective knowledge. Ultimately, that growth is the important thing, not where the knowledge comes from.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Sarah, I couldn’t agree more both on your perspectives on traditional knowledge and on our need to communicate more! I think the more we can integrate science and traditional knowledge the more we will actually learn how to more forward. It is through communication and generating support that we actually take action.
      thanks for this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=507081125 Kiera-Dawn Kolson

    My understandings regarding the environment, my community and changing climate is that we are at a tipping point, this world that we are living in is dealing with an extreme influx of development and extraction where she cannot keep up with the demands that our society is placing on her. There is a war against women and the biggest war is the war against our mother the earth.
    I respect the changing era that we have found ourselves in with regards to the internet and social medias however what happens if it crashes? I find that obtaining a fundamental personal understanding with regards to your habitat is essential. Traditionally speaking our people would pass down the knowledge through oral history and one on one teachings from the elders to the youth. However there has been a huge generation gap between the elders and youth of today, due to the residential school era. However I have witnessed a beautiful awakening within our nations, a sense of humble pride whereas our youth/adults and elders are taking the steps needed to obtain what traditional knowledge they can to ensure its preservation for the next 7 generations to come and beyond. Many of these gatherings or opportunities require funding which is not a current priority from our current government, and neither is our environment and this was exposed when Canada retracted its commitment with the Keyoto protocol, as well as the inter generational healing as we’ve seen these areas receive many funding cuts.
    I find that social networking is a wonderful way to reach the lives of people who you may not have initially had the chance to, as well as connect with like minded individuals and old friends, online news provides the opportunity to share and read current events before they are published in newspapers or tv.
    I believe that traditional knowledge is essential, I was taught that language is of the land and the land is of us (from a traditional perspective everything we are is a direct reciprocation of our relationship with the land, plants and animals) With the era we are embarking on we need to find a balance between respecting traditional knowledge and contemporary scientific knowledge and work together to provide the truth to the people with regards to the realities occurring in our lands. I’ve had scientists state that traditional knowledge keepers have reiterated everything the universities have taught them, and with these statements I believe that we need to find a co-existence respecting all forms of knowledge whether it is traditional or scientific.

    The majority of information which I have been able to obtain has been from direct interaction with knowledge keepers, participation in meetings and conferences; however with this medium it is not something I have the ability to maintain on a daily bases because these knowledge keepers are busy as well and often are traveling working with people (most communities are without cell phone service and limited internet). I usually will communicate my understandings through face to face meetings, phone conversations, e-mail, social networking and of course good ol mail :) By having the chance to converse with these like minded individuals it assists me in obtaining a well rounded understanding as well as making a well rounded decision on my understanding of what the realities are that we are facing and thus provides me with a better opportunity to disclose the truth to other people who are interested and try to disclose possible solutions to the issues at hand. Being a multi-disciplinary artist as well assists me in reiterating the truths through art, music and poetry. I find art as being a non-confrontational means to convey sometimes harsh realities to individuals without scaring them away from the truth. All in all we need to recognize that the issues we are facing in the present moment are no longer “fictitious” “indigenous” or “hippy” problems but real life world issues that effect us all as human beings, and if we do not commit to a healthier existence that tipping point is going to come and go and all we will have the option of doing is holding on for the ride. We were once recognized for having some of the worlds largest fresh water deposits but the GNWT was just given a “C” for the water conservation/protection efforts which scares me. My elders said “we are living in a magic time, a time which we will see things that many have not or never will see and experience. watch the animals because they will show you the truths” I believe in their teachings and understandings because they come from a well rounded holistic approach, we are seeing these plants, animals and season changes they are here in the present. We are that generation which the elders spoke of, we have that POWER, EDUCATION and current world view understanding to create a meaningful positive impact in this world around us an impact that will ripple far beyond our existence into the lives of those not yet born…however “the power for change resides in our power of choice”-Kiera
    ♥ “c’mon turtle island!!! The time is NOW to awaken!!! We MUST exercise our inherent rights and protect our mother the earth!!! Let’s unite today and make our grandchildren of tomorrow and our ancestors of yesterday proud today in the present!!! The making of tomorrows history resides on our decisions of today!”-Kiera Kolson

    30 years ago the people of the Dene nation stood together to oppose the pipeline creating a national and international awareness that the Indigenous people were not going to be pushed over and accept being forced into a destructive era, here we stand 30 years later. Let us learn from them and take on their strength,teachings and unite and show the world once more that we are not willing to give up or give in without a fight. I say this with all do respect and with the sincerest peaceful intentions, a fight doesn’t have to mean fists and guns, however it does mean having the courage to speak the truth even if you are standing alone in a room full of people and corporations. Always speak with a good heart and a good mind because I promise there is someone else in that room who feel’s the same as you do but maybe they just needed your strength to find their courage :)
    mahsi-cho/big thanks. keep up the good work everyone!
    in spirit and unity
    Kiera-Dawn Kolson

  • Violette

    My community, elders family, my school and travelling have given me my traditional knowledge and understanding of the environment and climate change.

    I think that in this age of online news, facebook and twitter, traditional knowledge isn’t as important as it was before they were discovered.
    I have watched a documentary about the sea ice. It has showed me that climate change is rapidly changing and creating difficulties for the animals. Not just for the animals for my people too. These animals have helped us survive by giving us clothing, food and shelter for hundreds or thousands of years.

    I get my information online, facebook, newspapers and my family and friends.
    These help me take actions in everyday life by getting information from the internet.

  • Nina Ford

    When i was really young, i was a shadow to my Grandparents. Ive grown up with my Grandparents. I followed them everywhere. They’d take me to their cabin for countless nights, they’d take my berry picking,wooding and fishing; I’d go everywhere with them. Id live with my grandparents, and every morning my grandma would speak inuktitut to me, as far as i could understand. She never really taken the time to actually teach me. She never said “tuttuk means caribou”, nothing like that. I learned everything by ear. When your spoken to in inuktitut for majority of the time, you just learn on your own, like you did when you learned how to walk and ride a bike. You did it on our own with some guidance. Ofcourse i learned the basics of the language in school, but it was my grandparents that i knew how to speak it as a conversation. I was never fluent, i could only put words into sentences and hear sentences as words. I put effort into learning it. Ever since i have went for college, i have lost touch of speaking inuktitut as much as i used to. It stopped being around. I became unfamiliar with it. I never ever believed that someone could “lose” their language, until it happened to me.

    My knowledge comes from my grandparents. It comes from my school, and carried on culture traditions come from living in my community. I share my knowledge wherever possible. Ive take a lot of stereotypical behaviour from nonaboriginals who i gladly corrected their judgements and accusations. Ive shared it with toddlers and young childrren. Ive shared it with peers and local citizans. Ive shared and always will share my knowledge of my traditional culture until i take it with me when my time is up. Whether it is on facebook, orally or physically.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=502891064 Annika T

    I have a lot of contact with researchers visiting the north through my workplace. This is a great (and diverse) source of scientific knowledge. My family, though, is from the north and have depended on the land for their survival for generations. Also, I have contact with traditional knowledge holders through the many conferences and workshops that are held in our community to discuss changes that people are seeing here. These are my main sources of traditional knowledge. Of course, there are the day to day conversations you have with people in the grocery store, at the coffee shop, etc. The weather and the land are the first things people talk about here in Inuvik, NWT.

  • Julia Loginova

    Julia, Komi Republic, northern Russia.
    In my community traditional knowledge about climate remain mostly as signs. Adults usually don’t look at calendar or forecasts on TV or internet, but rely on special signs that used by many generations to predict rain or drought, beginning of ice formation or grazing deer, where should be water underground or which forest has enough mushrooms and berries. Such knowledge allows them to be more flexible to affects of climate change.
    These knowledge are transmitted to young generation too while they are involved in all activities adults do. And youth use them actively, especially during last years, when any forecasts were wrong. However, even signs last years are not reliable source of knowledge. For example, signs tell that soon will be cold and it is time to put all provisions in underground storage, and people follow it as usual; Last year we also, like everybody here, did it, but after two cold days the temperature became very warm and many of provisions deteriorated.
    Affects of climate change force people to think “how we should adapt?”. Nor traditional knowledge neither scientific can be truly reliable. Combining them and sharing thoughts and experience with each other (using online news, facebook, twitter), we could make adaptation more efficient with less negative consequences for us and our communities.

  • http://twitter.com/ivalutweets Ivalu Rosing

    I believe that any knowledge is valuable knowledge. But there is a difference in the means of collecting and communicating knowledge. To set social networking sites against the traditional ways of storytelling seems a little controversial to me.

    In my family, we joke a little about how my grandfather uses his whole body when he tells a story. Once he wanted to tell a story about changing a light bulb, and he got up and gestured his arms and hands as if he was standing there, with the lamp! My Dad cracked up… but not for too long, because my Dad does these gestures too! So it’s only a matter of time before we can see him telling a story with the arms and gestures accordingly to the story.
    I believe this is nothing new, for Greenlanders. This is how we tell our stories. If it’s about changing a light bulb, or about fishing in the river last summer, we express a lot of the story through body language. Somehow, it brings an authenticity to the story.
    I also have my grandmother’s sister, who likes to tell ghost stories. The way that she can completely captivate you with her tone of voice, her facial expression and the pace of her story. Storytelling is a work of art. It requires patience, timing and imagination. These are qualities you cannot bring through a tweet or a facebook update. With our social networking sites we spend a lot of time expressing ourselves in words. If you have poor spelling abilities, you lose some audience, if you have the lack of putting forward your point, you lose audience. The emphasis is on the uses of words and the structure of written work.
    How does this suit the people with great flair for in-person storytelling?
    How do we make the cross-over, where we get in touch with each other, organizing an active arctic youth but also get to tell the small stories, the stories to teach us morals, ethics or simply to make us believe in ghosts.
    We in the Arctic come from cultures in which we share our knowledge about life through telling each other of incidences and situations we have been in. In the olden days, I think they also told a lot of fictional stories and posed them as experiences, just to get a point across. It was the knowledge of experience.

    Today, we need scientific knowledge. If I have an experience and learn a lesson, I have to document it. If I want it to be an acclaimed knowledge, I have to replicate the situation in places where I believe it will happen, to other people. This way I can document it, for the world to believe it exists.
    What we need scientific knowledge for today, is to prosper in the changes. We need the gathered information about the past 200 years in the weather. We need geologists to determine the layers of the ice cap, because they tell us the story about the weather through the past thousands of years. The weather is captured in the ice cap – neatly layered. The geologists can tell us the age of an ancient rock. Archeologists find the remains of our extinct ancestors. They can trace their migration, they can see by their tools what they ate, what they spend their time with. We have little natural time capsules many different places in the arctic, and we know for a fact, that the exceptional cold in the arctic actually makes these things preserved in very fine condition. Like those mummies in Nuuk, that still have their skin attached to their bodies.

    So, we need knowledge to know about the history of people.

    I get my knowledge through the news, through the shared articles on facebook, through my conversations with my Dad. I know he picks it up from the nature shows on TV, like on National Geographic. A lot of the knowledge I have about the climate changes I have from people talking about them to me, after they’ve seen it in the media. I get my knowledge about the climate changes and the state of the Arctic through random sources of people or media. I get my knowledge from seminars or lectures.

    The culmination of these things make me want to make a change, but I also know, I’m only one person. It is hard to make a change for a whole human race – so I start with me. Sometimes I buy ecologically, or I choose not to buy things that have compromised the state of the environment too much. I’m taking baby steps, but it is increasingly becoming more of a conscious choice, when I can – than ignoring the possibilities for taking a stand.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=596132646 Gordon Shaimaiyuk

    I believe traditional knowledge is very important because it keeps our past inline with our present. And scientific knowledge is also important because it shows us how the environment is changing and it can also show and compare how our climate is today and how it was 40 years ago.

    And the Inuit language is also very important because its the only way we can communicate with our elders. If the youth and adults today didn’t know how to speak and translate in our language, than I think our traditional language would be completely lost. and it would also be a huge loss to the scientific community because a lot of scientist today are starting to use their work and modern knowledge, and mixing it with our elders traditional knowledge to get a better understanding of how severe climate change has effected the north, and how it will affect the future.

    Story telling is also a huge way to provide knowledge to youth today. Because its our elders tradition to tell stories and teach the way of life in the north. It not only provides knowledge, it also shows emotion and expression. something you cannot do on facebook, twitter, or any form of website on the computer. i think that this is very important because it keeps the youth more connected to our elders and i think it also shows more respect for them.

    as much as we need traditional knowledge, we also need scientific knowledge to show, prove, and gain something that could possibly be important for the future. but science cant alone cannot do it. more scientist need to work with more elders and experienced inuit hunters to provide a view of the past, and safety tips for the present. safety tips for scientist who are going onto potentially dangerous trips in the north, and knowledge of the past to show a broad view of the changes that are in effect. I think this is very important because it could show more accurate answers to some of the hardest questions in science about the north. Diversity is also very important because it can show more scientist about the climate and way of life in different regions of the north, its also good for different types of scientist who want to find out different things in the north.

    the continually changing climate forces people in the north, no matter what part of the world it is in, to adapt to new ways of life. which has a threat of losing some if not all traditional knowledge in a specific region.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=595600838 Ashley Mulders

    My name is Ashley Mulders and I am a high school student living in Yellowknife, NWT.

    Despite what many other writers on this forum have said, I have, in fact, found that the curriculum today does offer many opportunities to learn about Northern culture and issues through the Social Studies program. Often, however, teachers do not fully seize this opportunity; many, born and raised down south, know nothing about the North, and, as mentioned before in this forum with the high turnover rate of teachers, do not stay long enough to learn about it. I have been fortunate enough to have a few teachers who fully captured the opportunity, however. The grade 7 social studies curriculum focuses on the circumpolar world, and students study in depth all that this entails. In high school grades 9 through 11, Canadian history, globalization, and nationalism themes allow more mature students to delve into issues such as northern sovereignty and the balance of economic development with social and environmental sustainability. The curriculum that best educates students, however, is the relatively new Northern Studies course. Unlike the Alberta curriculum, which we in the NWT run on, the curriculum is developed in the North and tailored to our needs. It talks extensively about the climate and environment, residential schools, the opening Northwest Passage, the history of Aboriginal and European groups in the area, and the diverse cultures in the North. What is more, the Northern Studies course is a requirement to graduate at my high school, so all students are well informed about the area they live in.

    But for many students, classroom studies are not effective, and there are many alternative programs available as well. I believe Jennifer Dagg mentioned the Tundra Science Camp held at the Daring Lake Research Camp; I, too, was lucky enough to attend. The camp combines the traditional knowledge of elders with the scientific knowledge of geologists, biologists and more to create a dynamic program in the field based on experiential learning, and allowing students the freedom to pursue their interests in an independent hands-on research project. I learned much from the Forum for Young Canadians youth conference on political processes. The environment and the North were common topics of discussion, and through a dinner with the MPs and a breakfast with the Senators, we were able to talk with the people who lead our country and ask them our own questions. My participation in an Outward Bound Canada sea-kayaking trip in the Clayoquot Sound area of Vancouver Island brought up intense discussions on living sustainably, and we paddled past many devastating examples of how economic development can hurt the land. An International Polar Year Youth Conference held several years back in Yellowknife opened the floor for some good discussions of Northern issues with people my age. I learned much volunteering for an Environment Canada Shorebird and Climate Change Science Camp held in elementary and high schools in Arviat, Nunavut several years ago, by helping teach the material, doing hands-on experiments such as water testing, and simply talking with students in the schools. The Prince of Wales Heritage Centre in Yellowknife was always a portal for learning about the North when I was a child, and has offered countless opportunities since to listen to speakers immersed in climate research.

    That being said, much has been learned from my experiences and observations within everyday life. It must be recognized that this winter in Yellowknife, and across the country for that matter, has been uncharacteristically warm, and there has been much more snow than usual. The ice on the lake took longer to freeze this year, and we couldn’t ski on the lake till quite late in the fall. Similarly, on a spring-time expedition down the Yellowknife River, we had to lug along canoes to get through open sections in the ice that should have normally still been frozen. Summers from one year to the next can’t seem to decide on an average temperature to maintain. Water levels in Great Slave Lake have been much lower in the past few years. Berry-picking excursions in recent years at the usual time of year have left us skunked, whereas in the past it was prime picking season. And it is these types of observations over long periods of time that form traditional knowledge.

    Scientists have often scoffed at traditional knowledge, and those possessing traditional knowledge have laughed at science’s ignorance and questioned its accuracy. My personal opinion is that a combination of traditional knowledge with science is perhaps the best means we have today of finding solutions today. Traditional knowledge is our link to centuries of observations, experiences, and adaptations, and by exploring that knowledge we can gain a deeper understanding into the climatic changes that are occurring in the North. Although science is verifiable, scientific data takes many long years to collect, and we don’t always know what patterns to look for.

    Books and the Internet, however, have been my greatest source for learning about the environmental issues we are facing. Books are probably the best way to get an in-depth look at a situation, but the Internet has enabled me to stay up-to-date on the most current events and studies. Users that I follow on Twitter connect me with valuable content on the web such as news articles, studies, photos, videos, and blog posts, all in an instant. The Internet allows for sharing between people worlds apart, such as through this forum. It has allowed me to explore my interests. And it is an essential tool for development in a modern, globalized world, where most work is done online. While the Internet connection in Yellowknife is fairly reliable, work could be done, and I know many smaller communities across the territories are working with ancient telecommunications technology, such as dial-up Internet connections. Developing this crucial technology should be a main goal for northern governments in the next few years. Without this, the North will be left behind.

    With my parents both working as biologists, and my older sister studying Biology in university, the environment in the North has always been a popular topic of conversation. Not only that, but they also taught me to conserve energy, recycle, compost, reduce consumption, to walk and bike and take public transit instead of driving, teaching me the basics of living sustainably in a changing environment.

  • Brittany Masson

    The knowledge we learn in today’s society often leaves out important aspects of either scientific or traditional importance. As a high school student, we learn mostly by what we see online through Facebook or through a news website. However, we are encouraged to take on many environmental projects in both curriculum classes and extra-curricular activities. Many of these projects are based around scientific research or observations made by ourselves or fellow classmates.

    Last month, our Ecology Club at IHS took a trip to NRI (Nunavut Research Institute), where we learned about the traditional Inuit calendar and the flow charts and schedules of the caribou. The traditional knowledge shared by the last surviving group of elders to live completely off the land before relocation helped us to better understand the ways of environmental preservation. The knowledge we now live by is completely different, yet both are positive methods in which to live. Preserving our environment has always been an important aspect in Inuit society, and the traditional knowledge that follows suit goes hand in hand in assisting and supporting scientific knowledge.

    After sitting in on this conversation with the elders, our Ecology Club decided to bring forth the importance of the environment to Elementary Schools in Iqaluit. We taught a class about compost and regrowth, and about the importance it has on the environment. After seeing their positive reactions, we decided to take our teachings to a higher and more successful level – the faculty of our high school. In February, we will be conducting a project coinciding with the week of learning our teachers have. We will teach them regrowth and compost as well as positive ways to help our environment. We hope in spreading awareness of Global Warming and Climate Change, we can encourage our entire town to become ‘Green’, and through these scientific methods we hope to produce a positive outlook on the simplicity of saving our environment.

    Even though we use scientific techniques to portray this goal, we still rely on traditional methods and ways of life to reach out to our community. Showing the importance of our land helps to open the eyes, minds, and hearts of Iqalumiuut thus creating an open pathway to our main concern. We wish to enforce these problems with both scientific and traditional means, and with this we hope to connect everyone in the community to come together and help spread the importance.

    I love every part of our community. We come together, work together, and learn together. Considering how my actions impact the environment, I use less and waste less. There is a light for every matter, and I hope to pursue my desires well into my future and assist others to do so as well. Hopefully our small club can spread awareness to thousands of people in Nunavut and encourage others to create a group supporting a green life!

  • Brittany Masson

    The knowledge we learn in today’s society often leaves out important aspects of either scientific or traditional importance. As a high school student, we learn mostly by what we see online through Facebook or through a news website. However, we are encouraged to take on many environmental projects in both curriculum classes and extra-curricular activities. Many of these projects are based around scientific research or observations made by ourselves or fellow classmates.

    Last month, our Ecology Club at IHS took a trip to NRI (Nunavut Research Institute), where we learned about the traditional Inuit calendar and the flow charts and schedules of the caribou. The traditional knowledge shared by the last surviving group of elders to live completely off the land before relocation helped us to better understand the ways of environmental preservation. The knowledge we now live by is completely different, yet both are positive methods in which to live. Preserving our environment has always been an important aspect in Inuit society, and the traditional knowledge that follows suit goes hand in hand in assisting and supporting scientific knowledge.

    After sitting in on this conversation with the elders, our Ecology Club decided to bring forth the importance of the environment to Elementary Schools in Iqaluit. We taught a class about compost and regrowth, and about the importance it has on the environment. After seeing their positive reactions, we decided to take our teachings to a higher and more successful level – the faculty of our high school. In February, we will be conducting a project coinciding with the week of learning our teachers have. We will teach them regrowth and compost as well as positive ways to help our environment. We hope in spreading awareness of Global Warming and Climate Change, we can encourage our entire town to become ‘Green’, and through these scientific methods we hope to produce a positive outlook on the simplicity of saving our environment.

    Even though we use scientific techniques to portray this goal, we still rely on traditional methods and ways of life to reach out to our community. Showing the importance of our land helps to open the eyes, minds, and hearts of Iqalumiuut thus creating an open pathway to our main concern. We wish to enforce these problems with both scientific and traditional means, and with this we hope to connect everyone in the community to come together and help spread the importance.

    I love every part of our community. We come together, work together, and learn together. Considering how my actions impact the environment, I use less and waste less. There is a light for every matter, and I hope to pursue my desires well into my future and assist others to do so as well. Hopefully our small club can spread awareness to thousands of people in Nunavut and encourage others to create a group supporting a green life!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=615485532 Donna Dicker

    All the knowledge of the environment and understanding my community is what I gain from local people and family. Some locals have told me, that the impact of climate change has been leaving them in the “awe” moment with what has been happening with the ice and the world. They say, its all about safety and surviving. Knowing what to do, and even losing people sometimes through it.

    Its important to know how it was than, and today. Some people had a view that scientific knowledge wasn’t as important as traditional knowledge because, it was just the way of life they lived. It was and is always important to remember to learn and know how to live and survive because that is what we do as Inuit.

    There seemed to be no such thing as scientific knowledge for some locals, one local gave an example that people depend on whats in store for the forecast. If it calls for bad weather, people will not go out in a blizzard; so they could put things on hold because of that.

    Being a young Inuk that is experiencing Intergenerational trauma, I am trying to gain as much traditional knowledge as I can. Learning about history and cultural practices really excites me, so what I think of traditional knowledge is exciting. Learning something new, but at the same time gaining that sense of identity of where I came from.

    Our Inuttitut language is not as strong with the young people here in Nunatsiavut compared to the other regions. So I find it a priority in my everyday life to try use it much as I can, and seek help from local elders such as my grandparents.

  • Emma Kreuger

    It is certainly true that our means of communication are expanding and that with this some of the former ways may be decreasing in use. However, I don’t believe that changing the medium necessarily changes the message. With the ability to share information online, we do not lose the necessity of traditional knowledge. If new technology is taken advantage of, it can be used to embrace the knowledge of the past for not only now, but the future. In doing so, protecting it from being lost through the generations. There are many projects doing so now.

    Igloolik Isuma Productions, Inc. in Nunavut is using video media to record and reenact traditional knowledge from story-telling to awareness on Inuit issues. Their documentary “Qapirangajuq: Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change” was the first to explore the topic of climate change from the Inuit perspective in Inuktitut. Nationally, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is documenting, from those directly affected, stories of the residential school system in Canada. This system had not been gone for long, yet rarely was it talked about and many Canadians had little idea what had been done to the First Peoples of this land. Abroad there are projects such as the digital stories facilitated by Pelican Expeditions. They taught the people living in the Torres Strait Islands (Australia) how to use technology to tell their stories. Making sure that they did not pass on their own aesthetic values so that the people could use the technology in a way that made sense to their own unique way of passing on knowledge and sharing stories. There are many more projects to be found all around the world, these are just a few examples that promote incorporating the new technology into already established ways of knowing.

    Many on this forum have already mentioned the importance of both scientific and traditional knowledge. I agree, but to further that, I think it is unfair to separate the two as though they are so different. At it’s core, science is about observing our world in an attempt to understand it. Traditional knowledge, I would argue, came from that same core way of knowing, observation. Traditional knowledge and science may not use the same ways of expressing themselves, but they are both attempting to better understand the world that they inhabit.

    When looking at the education system, if it were better accepted that traditional knowledge and science are not separate ideas, and the curriculum reflected this, students would benefit from understanding both and seeing the overlap. For example, when scientists were counting whales in Alaska, they based their count on whales that they saw. Local hunters, however, came up with a much different count by also including whales that they could hear below the ice but were not believed until they brought in other scientists to help them. In this case, it obviously is of benefit to have an understanding of traditional knowledge and the first scientists should have consulted such. The information gathered in either field can be useful to both. In this case, the whale count is helpful to hunters to ensure they are not over hunted and to scientists it can be a signifier of the overall health of the oceans. Hence, both would want the most accurate numbers possible and it is mutually beneficial to work together.

    It is the same in the classroom. To incorporate different ways of knowing is important to developing a comprehensive understanding of our world. In the circumpolar regions especially where tradition is still vital to community life, but so is dependance on modern technology. In my own experience I find that I learn best from combining the two. Not simply reading from a text book, but also listening to people’s stories and experiences as they relate to the topic and gaining my own experience. Much like this forum where one can share and learn in a way that combines traditional and modern information, all in a new medium: online. Though this can still be troublesome at times (I was unable to participate all through the holidays as the bandwidth up North was not cooperating), it has created a virtual realm where people from far and wide can come together and without such would have to travel do so.

    When I tried to think about where I get the knowledge that forms my viewpoints, it was hard to pinpoint what exactly came from where. I think that as an individual (and similarly I think our society also) I pick up pieces here and there to create a complex puzzle of information. Reading books and articles and watching films are very one way. They give you the information, but you can’t have a discussion with that book. What you can do is share it with your family, your friends, your colleagues, your classmates. In this way you can further your learning and turn it into a dialogue – a trading back and forth of ideas and thoughts.

    I fear I have strayed from answering the question as directly as I may have done. I missed out on the discussion aspect of this forum and in that way I have been limited by bandwidth. There is so much that can be said about where knowledge comes from. It comes from everywhere and is then transferred into many other uses and avenues. Someone long ago once said “I am still learning” and I am sure that I will echo that same thought for the rest of my life, I hope so anyways. What I have learned so far throughout my life has shaped who I am and who I want to be. Growing up in the North I gained a strong connection to the environment by being so close to it at all times. Through my education (both formal and informal) and experiences I have learned how it is becoming increasingly fragile. It has affected my decisions most recently in what I want to study. I am currently working towards a Bachelor’s of Arts in First Peoples Studies in Montreal and after I plan to study environmental technology back in Nunavut. My aspiration is to embark on a career path that strives to protect the North, Nunavut in particular, and its environment. It is one of the few places left that has not been entirely marked by man and if we don’t protect it, it will be gone.


    Truth and Reconciliation Commission:

    Pelican Expeditions:

    Whale count: