Sanikiluaq has long been recognized as a leader in innovation around mobilizing Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit for environmental stewardship, including receiving international recognition through a United Nations award for Voices from the Bay. Lucassie Arragutainaq’s career has focused on the role of IQ in management and science and, along with the late elder Piita Kattuk, was key in catalyzing the development of SIKU: The Indigenous Knowledge Social Network as a tool for knowledge
mobilization using Indigenous Environmental Terminology. SIKU is being used across the North to facilitate self-determination and a leading role for Inuit in community-driven research, monitoring and stewardship. The Qikiqtaitprogram provides a leading case study.
In Sanikiluaq, over 200 community members were involved in collectively creating a seasonal resource inventory for all major marine and terrestrial species covering almost 500,000 km from over 7500 trips and 7500+ posts. This provides key baseline data for the resource inventory, engages the entire community in the process of creating Qikiqtait, and is setting new standards for Indigenous-led stewardship.
SIKU provides tools and services that start with the individual harvester and scales up to collectively support community-led projects, including project management tools and impact measurement. The project management dashboard shows the community engagement in the
Qikiqtait project in 2022-23.
Wildlife Trends: Fisheries
The whole-of-community approach with SIKU has provided compelling data on the distribution and abundance of fish and invertebrate species across marine and freshwater habitats. SIKU helps connect seasonal
harvesting activities that include winter lake netting, spring jigging, marine netting and rod casting across broad geographies of lakes and marine habitats. SIKU also helps document habitat conditions, prey species demographics of invertebrates such as snails and shrimp, fish such as sticklebacks and capelin, as well as larger emergent properties of the data, including migration timing between marine and terrestrial habitats and sea run vs land-locked populations. Similar information is also shown for other key species, such as whitefish and sculpin and cod from direct harvesting and by-catch. Little had been previously documented for clams, mussels, urchins, sea cucumbers and scallops, but the systematic quantitative approach with SIKU has helped address major data gaps and now directs new, more targeted studies. It supports efforts to create local fisheries economies while providing a key approach for long-term stewardship and management that directly engages harvesters.
Surveys & Management: Eiders
Qikiqtait will protect marine and terrestrial habitats for eiders across the annual cycle. SIKU provides a tool to facilitate management, surveys and demographic data collected by and for the community. Harvest data with
SIKU demonstrates the peak community harvesting in the fall, with lower activity in the shoulder seasons, and increased activity for egg harvesting and down collecting seasons in spring/summer. Nesting surveys using the SIKU Survey tool document down and breeding
productivity, supporting the year-round SIKU harvest data for timing of hatching, nest success rates and other demographic rates. This includes the ratio of juveniles to adults in the fall hunt that elders use as a key indicator for post-fledging success, often in relation to polar bear and nest depredation in the previous spring. These outcomes provide key data for community real-time management of eiders and for sustainable stewardship of eider-down resources that are being developed as a part of conservation economies.
SIKU provides quantitative data on inter-annual trends. For example, community posts about berry harvesting have demonstrated differences in terrestrial productivity across years linked to key climate data, demonstrating the role Inuit harvesters can play in long-term monitoring for the stewardship for Qikiqtait
Food Security & SROI
Assessing program success is a key part of the approach – real time data with SIKU not only contributed to the resource inventory but allows direct measurement of the Social Return on Investment (SROI) related to the development of conservation economies for Qikiqtait. In the middle of the pandemic, we used SIKU data to document the contribution of the program to food security showing a 5:1 return on investment for food security alone from this program.
Resource Inventory Food Wheel
Putting together all of the information across seasons and across marine and terrestrial wildlife species in a framework that builds on the unique approach developed in Sanikiluaq through Voices from the Bay demonstrates how the whole-of-community approach with SIKU builds
on Indigenous knowledge frameworks to provide a quantitative approach to stewardship and management. This provides a cutting-edge approach to Inuit-led conservation that led to Lucassie Arragutainaq being awarded the Polar Science Award from Polar Knowledge Canada in 2022. Watch the plenary talk below and feel free to get in touch to learn more how SIKU can help with Indigenous-led stewardship in your community.