The SIKU app development team gets a standing ovation from delegates at the official launch during the 2019 ArcticNet Annual Scientific Meeting
The SIKU app development team gets a standing ovation from delegates at the official launch during the 2019 ArcticNet Annual Scientific Meeting in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in early December. Courtesy Arctic Eider Society

The Arctic Eider Society is a charity based in Sanikiluaq, Nunavut. In December, they released SIKU: The Indigenous Knowledge Social Network, a unique approach to bring together Inuit knowledge and technology. SIKU is a mobile app and web platform created by and for Inuit, providing tools for weather, ice safety and hunting stories as well as knowledge transfer and language preservation. SIKU puts Indigenous Knowledge and observations front and centre alongside weather and safety services, including sea ice products, tides, marine forecasts, and satellite imagery. This lets hunters share dangerous and changing ice conditions with their communities using their own language and knowledge systems.

SIKU includes profiles for wildlife, sea ice and traditional places in multiple dialects that are taggable and act as living wikis of Indigenous knowledge. Using the mobile app while on the land, posts, such as hunting stories and GPS tracks can be recorded and uploaded to SIKU when hunters are back in the community.

SIKU technology was inspired by groups like ‘Inuit hunting stories of the day’, community-driven research programs and a desire by elders to document and share oral history with youth. “SIKU is helping Inuit document the changes to our environment, especially our sea ice, which is changing rapidly because of climate change,” says Lucassie Arragutainaq, Manager of the Sanikiluaq Hunters and Trappers Association. “It allows us to document these changes very accurately, including our wildlife, which we actively hunt every day. It is particularly important for our youth.”

Candice Pedersen of Cambridge Bay, member of the SIKU Team says, “Inuit youth are like young people everywhere. We are on our smartphones a lot. We’re sharing our stories, messaging with each other, sending photos, videos, and memes. We’re living with instant information in small chunks all the time. It allows us, with a few clicks, to capture our data every time we go hunting, or are on the land, and gradually build up important data sets, which we have complete control over.”

Pedersen has played an important role in SIKU’s creation by delivering workshops through­out Inuit Nunangat and representing the SIKU project internationally, at venues like the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany. Her work has provided community members — especially youth — across Nunavut the opportunity to share their feedback and actively participate in SIKU’s development.

“The importance of SIKU hit home to me while doing an early consultation workshop with Nunavut Sivuniksavut students,” says AES Executive Director Joel Heath. “One of the youth said, ‘now scientists will finally believe what Inuit have been saying all along.’ That was when I knew we were moving in the right direction with this project and it was going to be something special that really contributed to self-determination for communities as well as knowledge transfer, education, and environmental stewardship.”

The Arctic Eider Society has partnered with a wide range of partners to create SIKU, which was catalyzed after winning $750,000 in the 2017 Google.org Impact Challenge in Canada.

To learn more, visit SIKU.org and download the mobile app for Android and iOS.