Inuit Knowledge Critical to Arctic Science

In this video interview, Martin Lougheed, of the Inuit Quajisarvingat Knowledge Center, Ottawa, Canada, makes the case for blending Inuit traditional knowledge with Western science to help understand and find solutions to sweeping changes in the Arctic.

Lougheed was interviewed at the Seventh International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences (ICASS VII), held recently in Iceland.

Organized by the International Arctic Social Sciences Association (IASSA), ICASS VII was attended by more than 400 delegates, who between them presented some 300 papers and joined discussions in dozens of workshops. Watch our video interview with IASSA President Joan Nymand Larsen, discussing the highlights of ICASS VII. Read our entire coverage of ICASS VII.

By Martin Lougheed, Inuit Quajisarvingat Knowledge Center, Ottawa, Canada

The Inuit Quajisarvingat Knowledge Center is a place to learn for and about the Inuit.

My mother comes from the east coast of Canada, from Nunatsiavut. I am fortunate to have the lifestyle of being able to live in both the Western world and from a traditional background, so I have the experience and knowledge from both the scientific and the Inuit perspective.

I am really hopeful that by participating and providing an Inuit voice at this event it will impact the decision-makers, policy and researchers studying the Arctic.

I am here on behalf of the Inuit Knowledge Center, trying to establish links between Inuit knowledge and traditional forms of research. Climate change is occurring so rapidly in the Arctic, and there’s so much interest in terms of research and information about this area. We need to make sure that Inuit knowledge is included alongside this other form of knowledge to ensure that proper policy and advocacy can happen in the North for Inuit.

Some of the projects that we do at Inuit Quajisarvingat is to help promote information about Inuit to the general public. We help promote statistics on our website, we help make connections between researchers and Inuit communities in order to bridge the gaps that exist in knowledge today.

The website provides all sorts of information about Inuit and their involvement in research, including how to make connections between researchers and Inuit knowledge, and make sure that is done in a proper, effective and ethical way for Inuit. The goal is to help promote the knowledge that Inuit have, because it is so essential to directing our day-to-day life. It needs to be included in modern-day policy.

Inuit perspective and knowledge are key to understanding things like the changes in sea ice, where modern-day researchers use tools to measure what the Inuit see and know already. It’s the understanding of the changes — the weather, the water, the sun — that are key players in the inter-workings of these different systems that are not as well understood in the outside world. That form of knowledge needs to be incorporated alongside measurements, alongside probing with tools, so that the full extent of knowledge is available to people who want to know it.

I’m very optimistic that in promoting Inuit Quajisarvingat we can help bridge the gap between these forms of knowledge and help move forward Inuit policy development, an enable help Inuit to live in conditions the rest of the world gets to enjoy.

Martin Lougheed is a Project Coordinator for the Inuit Knowledge Centre at Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami since 2009. Martin’s family roots come from Hopedale, Nunatsiavut; however he was born and raised in Ottawa, Ontario.  He attended the University of Guelph and completed his Bachelors of Environmental Science with Honours. Martin has also volunteered at various charities and organization across Ontario. In addition, in 2010 he was selected as a recipient of the National Aboriginal Role Model Program. He is passionate about knowledge and the connection to the land while incorporating two very distinctive cultures.

Coverage of the Seventh International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences was sponsored by the International Arctic Social Sciences Association (IASSA) and The Christensen Fund. The video was made by Blue Lagoon Productions for National Geographic News.

12418031_10153900711084116_8462971761216697621_nDavid Braun is director of outreach with the digital and social media team illuminating the National Geographic Society’s explorer, science, and education programs.

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Forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. He has 120,000 followers on social media. David Braun edits the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. Follow David on Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn