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Learning traditional knowledge and skills

Knowing how to build an igloo is a critical survival skill in the Arctic. Here, former Qausuittuq Park Manager Jovan Simic and Inuit Knowledge Working Group member Tagga Manik demonstrate to local youth from Resolute Bay how to construct an igloo on the land. © Parks Canada – Josh Erikson

 On the annual spring snowmobile patrol

Qausuittuq (Qow-soo-ee-tooq) National Park is Nunavut’s newest national park and protects over 11,000 square-kilometres of Arctic tundra and marine ecosystems in one of the coldest and driest climates in the world. A polar desert, the park includes habitat vital to the survival of important species like the Peary caribou. 

 As an important path to protection of these ecosystems, facilitating knowledge transfer between elders and youth is critical, and widely recognized as part of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ) or Inuit knowledge. In the spirit of IQ, local youth from Resolute Bay travelled to Qausuittuq National Park in Spring 2019 to learn traditional knowledge and skills from local Inuit Elders. 

Parks Canada staff, members of the park’s Inuit Knowledge Working Group, and the Qausuittuq Park Management Committee departed with seven local youth for three days of travel through the park by plays an essential role for Resolute Bay through hunting and seasonal use. snowmobile. Along with experiencing the trip to Bathurst Island over frozen seas, the youth practiced survival skills and heard stories from Elders about historical Inuit use within the park and the surrounding areas. Bathurst Island 

Initiatives promoting Inuit culture, conservation, the restoration of Canada’s natural and cultural heritage, and engaging with youth are all important for Parks Canada. Among these, promoting Inuit culture and youth engagement were identified by the Qausuittuq National Park Inuit Knowledge Working Group and Qausuittuq Park Management Committee as a priority to foster the transfer of Indigenous knowledge. 

“Resolute Bay youth are the future of Qausuittuq National Park. It’s great to see them excited about the time they’ve spent in the park,” says Qausuittuq National Park Manager Angela Piercey. 

Qausuittuq Inuit Knowledge Working Group member Tagga Manik (left) and Qausuittuq Park Management Committee member Nathanial Kalluk (right) accompany youth from Resolute Bay on a trip into Qausuittuq National Park in Spring 2019. © Parks Canada – Josh Erikson

“Inuit Knowledge plays a very important role in the management of Qausuittuq National Park and being able to transfer some of that knowledge to younger generations through programs like this is an invaluable experience to build from.” 

Everyone on the trip worked as a team and contributed to camp life – from tent setup, cooking, and cleaning. The youth learned a lot about winter camping, staying warm, and travelling on the land in general. Youth were also curious and asked a lot of questions to Parks Canada staff and Elder committee members on the trip. 

“The real value in knowledge transfer is in doing things together, like troubleshooting pro blems you encounter out on the land,” says Piercey. 

“During this trip, there was a lot of learning by doing.” 

Qausuittuq, which means “place where the sun doesn’t rise” in Inuktut, was established in 2015. Part of the spring patrol was to bring additional assets, like a mobile shelter, to a camp site where seasonal operations are currently based. Acting on the advice of park management, it is expected that future programming and visitor experiences in the park will be expanded over time – including additional programming for local youth that will foster Inuit leadership and knowledge of the park within Resolute Bay for future generations. 

Some of this future programming may include workshops on qamutiq (sled) building, sewing mitts and parkas, knowledge workshops of animal and plants, igloo building and other survival skills, such as safe ice travel. Youth workshops will continue to be facilitated by knowledge holders from the community with support from Parks Canada. 

“Some of Qausuittuq’s most valuable assets are the future generations of Inuit in Resolute Bay who will continue to steward its lands, either through employment with Parks Canada directly or traditional use,” says Piercey. 

“The best is yet to come.” 

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