Programs are ongoing to support the development of conservation economies and the creation of the Qikiqtait community-led marine and terrestrial protected area for the Belcher Islands Archipelago. The interconnection of our different projects is key to success, with different programs supporting each other and a whole-of-community approach. Programs include sea ice, oceanographic and wildlife monitoring and surveys, as well as delivery of qamutik making programs, equipment repairs, soapstone mining, youth harvesting programs and eider down sewing and parkas for youth projects at various times through the year.
Core Nautsituqtiit Pilot Program
At the core of the Qikiqtait programs, long-term experienced hunters Simeonie Kavik and Johnassie Ippak provide a wide range of expertise and knowledge to support monitoring, training, education and stewardship. They play a key role in knowledge transfer in the community that is essential for program delivery and engaging youth.
Eider Down Sewing Program
Eider down, the warmest feather in the world, is key to the unique culture and innovation of Sanikiluarmiut. Down and sewing programs are supporting the development of sustainable eider down economies in Sanikiluaq, as well as a Parkas for Youth program where atiigi made by seamstresses-in-training provide hunting gear for youth that do not have clothing, which can be a barrier to participation in monitoring programs. Given the unique relationship between Sanikiluarmiut and eiders, this is a key program for Qikiqtait, and the sustainable stewardship of eiders and eider down through Qikiqtait supports a community vision for stewardship.
Eider down sewing programs were recorded and produced for Uvagut TV.
Youth Harvesting Programs
Facilitating knowledge transfer from hunters and elders to youth is a key priority. Sim and Johnassie are some of the most experienced and knowledgeable hunters of their generation in the community, particularly around winter travel and safety near polynyas and floe edges. Providing support for programs that train youth and teach sea ice knowledge and harvesting skills is key. Youth harvesting programs are open to the community in general with several calls for sign-ups happening each year, as well as providing opportunities for youth that were involved in e.g. qamutik making to have the opportunity to use their new equipment on the land.
Equipment Making Programs
Training youth to create and maintain the equipment and skills needed for land use activities is key to a holistic program and Sim and Johnassie helped coordinate these programs in collaboration with other hunters and elders in Sanikiluaq. Outcomes support broader community programs, such as the use of newly created qamotiks by the HTA, as a part of their equipment hunter support programs funded through QIA.
Grass Basket Making Program
Grass basket making is a unique long-standing cultural activity in Sanikiluaq that only a few elders are experienced with. Training youth to continue this tradition is a priority.
Sanikiluaq has a number of well renowned carvers that include Sim and Johnassie, though fewer youth are involved in carving these days. Helping provide training on soapstone mining and carving is and important part of traditional skills preservation and local conservation economies.
Qajaq Making Program
The qajaq program involved a lot of elders and youth working together on an activity that rarely happens anymore. The skins were provided by the youth harvesting program and prepared by the team of seamstresses and stitched to the qajaq frame. The finished qajaq was treated to ensure long-term preservation and is now the centerpiece of the meeting room in the new Qikiqtait Centre.
Equipment and Supporting Infrastructure
Infrastructure and equipment is key to program delivery. The creation of a new cabin that can support local conservation economies, stewardship and safety was a top priority. A unique architectural approach incorporated energy efficient structural insulated panels (SIP) and solar rooftop. The cabin will support new programs to address community research priorities and local jobs. Additional support from QIA has provided skidoos and new boats key to support ongoing program delivery and activities for the stewardship of Qikiqtait marine and terrestrial habitats for future generations.
A whole-of-community approach is being employed to provide comprehensive information that will contribute to long-term monitoring and stewardship of marine and terrestrial wildlife for Qikiqtait using the SIKU app created in Sanikiluaq. Click here to learn more.