Tuktu and Nogak Project
1998 Annual Report

 

Submitted to
West Kitikmeot / Slave Study Society
Yellowknife, NT

 

Submitted by
Natasha Thorpe and Sandra Eyegetok
Tuktu and Nogak Project
December 31, 1998

 


 

 

Table of Contents

Summary

Acknowledgments

1.0 Objectives

2.0 Description

2.1 Background

2.2 Study Area

2.3 Methodology

2.3.1 Data Collection

2.3.2 Data Translation, Transcription and Verification

2.3.3 Project Results and Products

2.3.4 Storage and Distribution of Data and Results

2.3.5 Community Consultation and Communication

3.0 Activities for the Year

3.1 Data Collection

3.2 Data Translation, Transcription and Verification

3.3 Project Results and Products

3.4 Storage and Distribution of Data and Results

3.5 Community Consultation and Communication

3.6 Other

4.0 Results

4.1 Caribou Migration and Calving Ground Location

4.2 Foraging and Grazing Tundra Vegetation

4.3 Dynamics of Different Herds

5.0 Discussion

6.0 Links with Parallel Studies

6.1 Naonayaotit Study

6.2 WKSS Calving Ground Study

6.3 Kitikmeot Heritage Society

7.0 Training Activities and Results

References

 

Summary

The Tuktu and Nogak Project is a community driven effort to document Inuit knowledge about caribou and calving areas in the Bathurst Inlet region. The idea for the project originated at the Kugluktuk Angoniatit Association (KAA) in 1996. Since this time, the project has evolved into a regional effort led by an advisory committee called the Tuktu and Nogak Board. This board consists of elders and other community members, mostly from Umingmaktuuq (Bay Chimo) and Qingauk (Bathurst Inlet), although Qurluqtuq (Kugluktuk) and Iqaluktuuttiaq (Cambridge Bay) are also included so that people who used to live, travel, hunt and/or trap in the study region are also consulted. The study area is defined as the traditional hunting grounds for the communities of Iqaluktuuttiaq and Qingauk. The project officially began in the summer of 1997 and will finish in 1999.

The goal of the project, as defined by the board, is to collect and share Inuit knowledge of caribou and calving grounds to improve caribou management in the Bathurst Inlet region for present and future generations in Nunavut. This knowledge will assist people in the north to understand Arctic environments, improve wildlife management, and assess possible effects from use of Inuit lands and resources. Results from this regional project could easily be applied to other areas in Nunavut and the Slave Geological Province.

Inuit knowledge of caribou and calving grounds is collected through interviews with elders and hunters. Community members suggested that trips on the land would be the best place to record stories because this where people hunt and observe caribou. As a result, an elder-youth camp held on the Hiukitak River during the summer of 1998 provided opportunities for researchers to record traditional stories and observations of caribou. It also brought together elders and youth from different communities to strengthen Inuit culture.

Information collected through interviews with more than 25 elders and hunters is recorded on over 50 one-hour audiotapes. Words on these tapes are copied or transcribed onto paper and then translated into English and Inuinnaqtun. Meanwhile, videos and photographs are taken and returned to communities. Next, those people who have been interviewed check the information on paper. This is to make sure that the words are right before they are used to write reports for agencies that manage caribou. While members of agencies like to have reports, people in communities prefer videos of their work.

Videos, audiotapes, transcripts and reports are kept in the communities to be used by elders, youth and other community members. In addition, the information will be entered into a computer system so that regional Inuit and Nunavut agencies can use it to make decisions about lands and resources. An important thing to remember is that people who are interviewed make the decisions about how, where and when the information that they share is used.

If you are interested in participating or if you have any questions or concerns, please contact:

Sandra Eyegetok
Tuktu and Nogak Project
P.O. Box 2106
Iqaluktuuttiaq, NT
X0E 0C0
phone: (867) 983-2303
fax: (867) 983-2701
email: sandra@polarnet.ca

Natasha Thorpe
Tuktu and Nogak Project
2376 W. 14th Ave.
Vancouver, BC
V6K 2W3
phone: (604) 708-3573
fax: (604) 708-3576
email: nlthorpe@sfu.ca

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Acknowledgments

Community members, especially elders, from Umingmaktuuq, Qingauk, Iqaluktuuttiaq, and Qurluqtuq are the backbone of this research. The Tuktu and Nogak Board members include John Akana, Martha Akoluk, Jack Alonak, Lena Kamoayok, Eileen Kakolak, Mary Kaniak, Mary Kilaodluk, Tommy Kilaodluk, Moses Koihok, Bessie Omilgoitok, Paul Omilgoitok, Ella Panegyuk, and Natasha Thorpe. Special thanks go to Sandra Eyegetok, senior researcher, for her commitment, hard work and management of the office in Iqaluktuuttiaq. In addition, gratitude is given to George Hakongak, Eileen Kakolak, and Eva Komak for their dedication and hard work. Students Jason Akoluk, Arnold Angivrana, Shauna Angulalik, Tasha Daniels, Karen Kamoayok, Vanna Klengenberg, Cynthia Niptanatiak, Neal Mala, and Joseph Jr. Tikhak, also provided valuable assistance.

Individuals from several agencies have provided enormous informational and logistical support. These include Gerry Atatahak and Chris Hanks (BHP Minerals); Sam Itkilik (Inuit Broadcasting Corporation); Kim Crockatt and David Pelly (Kitikmeot Heritage Society); Darrell Ohokannoak, Keith Peterson, Fred Pederson, and Wynet Smith (Kitikmeot Inuit Association); Grant Corey and George Hakongak (GNWT Department of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development); John Komak, Alex Thomson (Nunavut Impact Review Board); Adrian Boyd and Allan Maghagak (Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated); Drs. Evelyn Pinkerton and Chadwick Day (Simon Fraser University, Burnaby); and Dr. Gary Kofinas (University of British Columbia, Vancouver). Special thanks go to Tom Andrews and David Livingstone for their encouragement, support and input at the outset of the project.

The West Kitikmeot Slave Study Society primarily funds this project. Earlier and ongoing contributions and contributions-in-kind have been generously provided by BHP Minerals Inc.; GNWT Department of Education, Culture and Employment; GNWT Department of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development; Hamlet of Cambridge Bay, Inuit Broadcasting Corporation; Kitikmeot Economic and Development Corporation; Iqaluktuuttiaq Elders Centre, Kitikmeot Inuit Association; Nunavut Arctic College; Nunavut Impact Review Board; and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated. The Arctic Institute of North America; Association of Canadian Universities for Northern Studies; Northern Scientific Training Program; and Social Sciences and Humanities Research council has provided additional research support.

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1.0 Objectives

The goal of the Tuktu and Nogak Project is to collect and share Inuit ecological knowledge of caribou and calving grounds in order to improve caribou management in the Bathurst Inlet regions for present and future generations in Nunavut. As defined by the advisory board, the guiding objectives are to:

The commensurate research priorities concerning caribou and calving areas in the Bathurst Inlet region are:

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2.0 Description

This section briefly outlines the background, study area, and methodology of the project. For further detail, please refer to the original project proposal, May 1997, and the 1997 annual report.

 

2.1 Background

The need for a project to document and share Inuit ecological knowledge of caribou and calving areas in the Bathurst Inlet region was first identified in 1996. There are four major reasons why this project was initiated.

First, individuals who were conducting an extensive traditional knowledge study (the Naonayaotit Study) realized that their study was too broad to focus on only caribou and calving areas in the Bathurst Inlet region. At the same time, many interviewees mentioned that caribou were of particular importance and interest. In order to address these concerns, Gerry Atatahak, principal researcher for the study, suggested that another research project begin to focus on caribou and calving areas.

Second, elders are passing away while youth, more fluent in English than Inuinnaqtun, struggle to live on the land, speak their language and learn from their elders. Inuit knowledge held by elders represents intergenerational wisdom that spans many spatial and temporal boundaries. Loss of this understanding would be detrimental to Inuit culture in general, and to the sustainable management of northern lands, resources and wildlife in particular. Before elders who have lived most of their lives on the land pass away, the project aims to record their expertise and experience.

Third, wildlife resources are critical to northern peoples who depend upon healthy populations of animals for hunting, ceremony and tradition. For the Inuit of Umingmaktuuq and Qingauk, the Bathurst caribou are of particular relevance since the herd migrates through and calves in areas nearby.

Finally, mineral exploration and the potential for mine development provide an additional impetus for seeking a comprehensive understanding of Inuit knowledge of caribou in the Bathurst Inlet region. Ultimately, local and historical information about caribou documented through this project will assist northern communities, agencies and interest groups in making decisions related to mineral development, lands, resources, and wildlife.

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2.2 Study Area

The study area is defined as the historical and current hunting grounds of the communities of Umingmaktuuq and Qingauk. Individuals from Qurluqtuq and Iqaluktuuttiaq are also consulted so as to include former residents of these primary communities and people who have hunted, trapped or traveled in the region.

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2.3 Methodology

An emic methodology, one that evolves with community direction, forms the foundation of the project. Emic methods are enhanced by a combination of participatory action research, participant observation and semi-directed interview techniques (Spradley 1980; Whyte 1991; Huntington 1998). Standard and accepted ethnographic techniques and ethical principles agreed to by the Association of Canadian Universities for Northern Studies (ACUNS), the Ethical Guidelines for Research prepared by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, and the Guidelines for Traditional Knowledge Research designed by West Kitikmeot Slave Study (WKSS) further inform the methods.

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2.3.1 Data Collection

Using this combination of emic, participatory action research, participant observation and semi-directed interview methods, expeditions on the land are the basis of data collection for the project. In this natural environment, story-telling about caribou and calving areas, capacity building and elder-youth interactions may be facilitated. Elders and community members may be encouraged to take leadership of the process by sharing what they feel is important, rather than responding to what others determine is relevant, for example, through a rigid questionnaire. Still, a list of questions is used to guide the interview when the interviewee is not comfortable with directing the dialogue.

The elders’ advisory board requires that youth participate in the data collection. Involving youth during this phase ensures that the information is shared in an explicit manner. That is, elders and hunters are driven to provide many details about caribou and calving areas in the interest of making sure that youth understand and ultimately, carry on, the words and traditions of their ancestors. Since elders make an effort to provide exact information, there is a natural quality control mechanism during data collection.

During the 1997 summer field season, informational interviews were conducted and trial expeditions were initiated. These were important processes in determining how the 1998 field season would be accomplished. During 1997, extensive community consultation and an intensive community workshop led to the decision to hold a week long elder-youth camp during the 1998 summer. This was enhanced by several mini-expeditions held on the land.

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2.3.2 Data Translation, Transcription and Verification

Once the data are collected, interviews are translated and transcribed into both English and Inuinnaqtun. Next, the interviewees verify these transcripts. Only once they are approved, are they entered into a textual and spatial database that forms the basis of the final products of the research. At this time, copies of the interview tapes and transcripts are given back to each interviewee and community. Ensuring quality and accuracy of the transcripts can be an extremely time-consuming process.

2.3.3 Project Results and Products

Since elders and hunters prefer the project results to be conveyed through video, the Inuit Broadcasting Cooperation (IBC) was asked to become a partner to the project. Sam Itkilik of IBC is preparing several documentaries about the research, one that was recently aired across Nunavut. All documentaries, along with photographs and videos taken by researchers and youth assistants, are distributed to project participants as well as funding agencies.

Funding and partner agencies prefer results in a report and map format. Copies of composite reports and maps based on a textual and spatial database will be distributed when the project is completed. These agencies also receive copies of IBC documentaries and all publications developed for or about the project.

The textual and spatial database is designed after that developed for the Naonayaotit Study. This ensures compatibility between the two Inuit ecological knowledge projects in the Kitikmeot region. Details on how this database will function will be provided at a later date. At this time, it is understood that community members will have access to the raw data while organizations will receive copies of composite maps and reports.

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2.3.4 Storage and Distribution of Data and Result

Copies of the original data will be stored in the school and home of a board member in Umingmaktuuq, the hunters and trappers’ organization in Qingauk, and KIA and the heritage building (once completed) in Iqaluktuuttiaq. In Qurluqtuq, KIA will house the data and copies will likely be kept at the elders centre or school, although this is yet to decided by the community. Until a safe storage facility is built in Nunavut, copies of the data will be stored at the Prince of Wales Heritage Centre. It is understood, however, that this does not give the Centre permission to use the data.

2.3.5 Community Consultation and Communication

For the duration of the project, offices are kept in Iqaluktuuttiaq and Vancouver. Elders in Iqaluktuuttiaq suggested that the senior researcher and principal researcher (while in the community) work from the elders centre where they can be easily accessible and so that elders and other interviewees can monitor and contribute to the research progress. This also facilitates meetings on a monthly basis and ongoing community consultation and communication.

Communities are informed about research progress through radio announcements, web-sites, posters, meetings, and word of mouth. Opportunity for community input is provided through regular meetings and casual visiting with the researchers and advisory board members. The project strives to hold a minimum of three meetings per year per community.

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3.0 Activities for the Year

1998 marked a successful year, particularly with respect to data collection, community consultation, and training and hiring. The following section outlines the milestones achieved in the areas of data collection; data translation, transcription and verification; project results and products; storage and distribution of data and results; and community consultation and communication. Training and hiring is discussed in section 7.0.

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3.1 Data Collection

Data collection continued from 1997, with interviews taking place in Iqaluktuuttiaq, Qurluqtuq, and Umingmaktuuq. Owing to funding constraints, no data collection was initiated in Qurluqtuq. Over 50 hours of interviews were recorded.

The elder-youth camp was the highlight for the year. This initiative brought together elders and youths from across the Kitikmeot region together at a traditional camp in Bathurst Inlet. The elders demonstrated how to hunt and prepare caribou and explained the difference between a healthy and sick animal. They told stories of caribou migration and behaviour that included details about critical caribou habitat for calving, post-calving and grazing. Project researchers recorded this information and arranged for special sessions to collect more information as necessary. The Inuit Broadcasting Corporation has already prepared two documentaries about the camp and may produce at least one more. One was aired in December 1998 and the other will be shown in January 1999. WKSS, along with other funding agencies, has received a detailed report outlining the activities of this camp.

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3.2 Data Translation, Transcription and Verification

Of the more than 50 hours of recorded interviews, 26 hours have been transcribed. Half of these have been translated into both languages. Translation and transcription is ongoing.

Verification of the 1997 interviews was completed this year. Of the 50 hours of recorded interviews, approximately 10 hours have been verified to date. Verification will be a major component of the research in 1999.

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3.3 Project Results and Products

Since translation and transcription for 1998 is not yet completed, it is not appropriate to discuss project results and products. Please refer to section 4.0.

3.4 Storage and Distribution of Data and Results

Five copies of every interview tape have been made. The first copy was given to the interviewee. The second copy rests with the home community of the interviewee. The translator uses the third copy. The senior researcher and principal researcher hold the fourth and fifth copies. For now, the originals are stored at the Prince of Wales Heritage Centre.

Copies of most photographs have been given back to interviewees and other project participants. Photo albums have been distributed to the elders centres or hunting and trapping organizations, depending on the community. Paper photos and copies of digital photos have been distributed to funding agencies. Copies of video documentaries have been given to each community and will shortly be distributed to funding partners. Copies of videos taken by researchers and students are presently being made and will be given back to each community.

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3.5 Community Consultation and Communication

As part of the consultation and communication component of the project, meetings were held in February, May, June, July, August and December in each of the communities of Umingmaktuuq, Qingauk, and Iqaluktuuttiaq. As of June, regular monthly meetings were held in Iqaluktuuttiaq at the Elders Centre, as requested by the elders of the advisory committee. Meetings in Qurluqtuq are scheduled for the new year.

In order to communicate the progress of the project to a wider audience, a webpage was created. Regular updates are now posted at this site and maintained by Polarnet, a division of the Kitikmeot Inuit Association. All papers that are produced as part of the project are also posted.

A poster communicating partnerships and progress of this community project was created and distributed across the Kitikmeot region. In August 1998, this poster was presented at a conference in Calgary hosted by the Arctic Institute of North America. A similar version of the poster was published in the journal Arctic in December 1998.

Radio announcements and interviews were aired on CBC North several times throughout the year. The senior researcher will be interviewed in the new year to present an update of the project.

Finally, the researchers and elders visited schools in Iqaluktuuttiaq several times in order to inform the youth about the project and encourage them to become involved. Interested young people were invited to apply to work with the project. They were also asked to draw a picture or write a story illustrating why attending the elder-youth camp was important to them. The advisory board then selected camp participants.

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3.6 Other

Project researchers and students compiled a list of Inuit knowledge references related to caribou. This proved to be a daunting task since most materials were located in southern locales. Further, the recent fire in Iqaluktuuttiaq destroyed those few resources that were held locally. The researchers continue to add to this list of references. This will be an ongoing process for the duration of the project.

A contest was held for the youth to draw a logo for the project. Loretta Kaniak of Iqaluktuuttiaq designed the winning logo that was selected by the advisory board. Several organizations including the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, Nunavut Impact Review Board, Nunavut Planning Commission, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated and Nunavut Wildlife Management Board donated prizes for the contest including t-shirts, hats, pins, and pens.

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4.0 Results

Since the summer of 1997, more than 25 elders and hunters have provided advice on managing calving grounds and shared stories about caribou. These stories tell of caribou health (biology and physiology), movements and migration, and calving behaviour. At this time, it is inappropriate to provide extensive results because only a few of the transcripts have been verified. The following preliminary and general results are based on researcher field notes and those transcripts that have been verified.

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4.1 Caribou Migration and Calving Ground Location

The Bathurst herd has shifted the location of the calving grounds from the east to west side of Bathurst Inlet during the last two years. Several anonymous hunters observe that in the spring, leads in the southern portion of Bathurst Inlet are opening up earlier now than in the recent past. As a result, not as many caribou are crossing the Inlet. One hunter comments that the migration route has shifted towards the west because of mining operations several hundred kilometres southwest of the Inlet, near the Lac de Gras area. Elder Jessie Hagialok of Qingauk, along with the elders and hunters of Umingmaktuuq, suggests that the location of caribou calving grounds is always shifting and difficult to predict.

Many elders advise that the migration routes and calving grounds of the Bathurst herd cycle around the Inlet. Elder George Kuptana reported that caribou are like "lawn-mowers" and have to shift the migration routes once the "grass is all eaten up". He explained that changes in migration routes lead the cows to different places to have their calves. Over many years, caribou can trample and eat tundra plants in one area so that soon they have to look to other regions for migration and calving.

Most interviewees have never seen a cow giving birth to a calf or a calving ground. This is because people respect calving as a sensitive time and therefore leave the caribou alone. Still, hunters know where the calving grounds are. For example, hunter and wildlife officer George Hakongak has never seen a cow giving birth, but he can accurately predict where concentrated calving grounds are located. During a two-hour interview he made circles on maps where he thought the most likely areas would be based on his understanding of caribou, predator-prey relationships, weather, plants, the land, and more. Many of the areas that he thought were calving habitats, coincided with what other scientists, hunters and elders have found.

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4.2 Foraging and Grazing Tundra Vegetation

Elders and sisters, Mary Kaniak and Lena Kamoayok, made the interesting observation that cottongrass is typically the first food that calves eat. This may mean that calving grounds are located in areas where this plant is most plentiful. This hypothesis requires further investigation.

Several elders pointed to mushrooms as being an important food source for caribou. You can tell when caribou have been grazing mushrooms when the top of the mushroom is missing. Jack Alonak says that mushrooms are a "water bottle" for caribou because they contain so much moisture. He also likens mushrooms to chewing tobacco since caribou often keep them in their mouths for long periods of time.

The best way to tell what caribou are eating is to examine the stomach contents. In the summer, willow leaves are plentiful in the digestive tract. Caribou particularly enjoy stripping the leaves from the stalk of the plant. Willows smell and taste differently in one area compared with another. This is reflected in the taste of the caribou meat. During the spring and winter, lichens seem to be a favourite food source. The way caribou meat tastes depends not only on the time of year, but also where caribou have been grazing. In general, it is better to look at stomach contents of caribou than to examine physical changes in tundra vegetation (e.g. grazing evidence) in order to determine what caribou eat.

Moses Koihok speaks about global change in climate patterns that has caused dramatic shifts in the types of vegetation and caribou found on the mainland and on Victoria Island. He suggests that climate variation has led to vegetation changes that have further caused shifts in migration routes and calving grounds. Moses, along with John Akana and George Panegyuk, say that the Bathurst herd started calving on the west side of the Inlet at the time when the Island caribou started venturing as far south as Umingmaktuuq (early 1990s).

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4.3 Dynamics of Different Herds

Stories told by elders support the finding that the Bathurst and Queen Maud herds are different populations. Many people have difficulty differentiating animals from these herds, although there is an understanding that the herds share habitats, particularly around Bathurst Inlet. Some hunters think that the Queen Maud herd is a product of the Island and Mainland caribou herds breeding together.

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5.0 Discussion

The above sample of research results speaks to the importance of documenting Inuit ecological knowledge for current and future generations. Although most interviews still remain to be verified, results to date indicate that lessons on caribou given by elders and hunters are valuable for northern agencies as well as community members. When these lessons are applied to caribou management practices today, there will be many healthy caribou tomorrow.

As with other Inuit ecological knowledge works, this project bridges gaps between elders and youth; provides local employment; creates records of oral tradition, history and knowledge of caribou; helps decision making by agencies, and preserves and promotes Inuit culture and tradition. By sharing knowledge, community members, scientists, social scientists and other experts can learn from one another.

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6.0 Links with Parallel Studies

The project collaborates with several other research endeavors in the region. Links have been made with the Naonayaotit Study, WKSS calving ground study, and with work conducted by the Kitikmeot Heritage Society.

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6.1 Naonayaotit Study

As mentioned in the 1997 annual report, this project emerged from the Naonayaotit Study. Consultation with study leaders of the Naonayaotit Study has been ongoing since the inception of the project in order to facilitate cohesion between the two projects, identify information gaps, and avoid any duplication that may occur. Cooperation and collaboration has led to both projects sharing the same textual and spatial database operating systems (AskSam and ArcView, respectively).

The Kugluktuk Angoniatit Association is creating a database system that will be used by both the Naonayaotit Study and Tuktu and Nogak Project. Although this was to be operational by March 1998, it is only now nearing completion. As such, spatial data for the Tuktu and Nogak Project cannot be entered by the Kitikmeot Inuit Association until the next fiscal year. A revision to the 1999/2000 budget will reflect this.

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6.2 WKSS Calving Ground Study

There have also been links with the other WKSS caribou studies, although at this point, most efforts to collaborate have been through fostering dialogue between researchers. Last spring, an attempt was made to co-ordinate efforts between the scientific calving project, however, limited time and fiscal resources made close collaboration impossible. In the future, with more time to plan, it would be useful to have researchers from both projects come together in the field so that scientists and elders could share their respective expertise. The board for the Tuktu and Nogak Project strongly supports this initiative.

The project funded one hunter to work with the calving project in May and June. The idea was to have him document his experience on the calving grounds from an Inuit perspective and then add this to the project database. However, it was impossible to record his daily observations since no Tuktu and Nogak Project support staff accompanied him to the field. While an interview was held with him after he returned from the field, by that time it was difficult for him to recall his observations. In the future, it is recommended that at least two well-trained project staff work in the field with scientists in order for Inuit ecological knowledge to be documented effectively.

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6.3 Kitikmeot Heritage Society

Elders in Iqaluktuuttiaq are involved with several efforts to document local history in the southern reaches of Victoria Island through an organization called the Kitikmeot Heritage Society. Many people involved with the society are also key players in the Tuktu and Nogak Project. Communication between the projects has meant that information about caribou can be better shared and that the use and storage of the project results will be easily co-ordinated. For example, the Society has shared old transcripts of interviews with local elders that contain information about caribou and calving areas. These are valuable, especially since some of the interviewees have already passed on. Since the fire in Iqaluktuuttiaq, the society has been instrumental in designing a new building that will house interview tapes, maps and transcripts collected through projects similar to the Tuktu and Nogak Project. The Society will staff the new building where copies of Tuktu and Nogak Project research materials will be stored.

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7.0 Training Activities and Results

Training and hiring of a Tuktu and Nogak Project Team for this year occurred through an intense weeklong training workshop held in May in Iqaluktuuttiaq. Community members and researchers developed the training manual for this workshop. Two research partners and four students were trained. From May until August, this team worked from the Nunavut Arctic College in Iqaluktuuttiaq. Thereafter, the elders recommended that they work from the elders; centre so that the researchers would be more accessible.

Training and interviewing also occurred in Qingauk and Umingmaktuuq, although on a lesser scale since several researchers were trained already in 1997. Five students were trained and helped to document elders; stories through audio and video recording.

Once trained, the researchers provided training to the students. This worked extremely well. The students were required to ask at least three questions during every interview and to keep daily journals documenting what they learned. Later they typed out their journal observations and these were added to the project database.

At the beginning of the research project, the advisory board decided that at least one student must be present during every interview. This was respected by the research team and in most cases, there were at least two students assisting in every interview. Students also helped with typing, recording and logistics. Skills were further developed for those students who had already worked for the project last year. These experienced students had a role in training the new students.

The principal researcher completed an Inuinnaqtun course through Nunavut Arctic College. This helped her to better communicate with project participants. Lessons are ongoing as the principal researcher and senior researcher continue to work together.

 

References

Huntington, H.P. 1998. Observations on the utility of the semi-directive interview for documenting traditional ecological knowledge. Arctic 51(3): 237-242.

Spradley, J.P. 1980. Participant observation. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Whyte, W.F. (ed). 1991. Participatory action research. California: Sage Publications.

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