New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Edited by Tim Stephens and David L. VanderZwaag
Chapter 10: Inuit perspectives on governance in the Canadian Arctic
The Arctic is ruled by ice. For Inuit and the animals they hunt it is the platform on which life is lived. This platform exists for most of the year from the autumn freeze-up to break-up in the spring - about eight or nine months. This period of ice used to last from October to late June, depending on where you were in the Arctic. The ice became a solid surface from the month of tusaqtuut or the 'time of visiting' (November) when the ice froze hard enough to use as a travel route from one community to another. The Inuit would often make camp on the ice through tauvikjuak or the 'great darkness', when the Sun remains below the horizon for weeks or months at a time. For hundreds or thousands of years Inuit have gone out to the floe-edge to hunt for beluga whales, narwhal, bowhead, seals and walrus. Only during the warm months when the ice retreated did most Inuit travel inland to hunt for caribou, muskox and other land mammals. The Inuit and the animals they hunted have depended on the ice for thousands of years. But this ancient reality is changing.
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