“It’s mainly our heritage, the Inuit way of life that should be taught in the park”: From a loci for management to a socio-ecological system in Auyuittuq National Park
The chapter “Co-operative Management of Auyuittuq National Park: Moving Towards Greater Emphasis and Recognition of Indigenous Aspirations for the Management of Their Lands” (2016) focuses on Inuit-led governance models for Auyuittuq National Park, Nunavut. The park is perhaps best-known to Southerners for its breathtaking landscapes, lush tundra, and the familiar imagery of Mount Asgard and Mount Thor; the park is nestled within Baffin Island’s fjord system between Qikiqtarjuaq and Pangnirtung where its management headquarters is located (Pangniqtuuq in the Central Baffin dialect). The area was established as a national park reserve in 1976 and became a national park in 2001 after the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement (NLCA). Since this time, the park has been co-managed in accordance with the agreement, but Inuit-led methods for park management and Inuit desires for the park’s future “has been limited.” The chapter is a collaborative piece between researchers, park managers, and elders to explore Pangnirtumiut* perspectives on the park in the wake of negotiating new governance models and procedures that may better support Inuit economic, social, and conservation wants.
Through a process of interviews and workshops, the authors find that the “research participants were supportive of the park management and the structures and processes that enabled their involvement.” Their interviews touch on several aspirations for co-operative park management that were directed by Inuit knowledge systems, governance structures, and Inuktitut, which were categorized as knowledge, well-being, development, culture, and engagement and the authors note that these aspirations are interconnected. Examples include the use of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ)—“What Inuit have known for a very long time”—an Inuit-specific knowledge and value system that directs Inuit governance. Aspirations also include culturally derived land stewardship models that ensure the safety of visitors, animals, the environment, and “the ability to hunt for culturally important food species undisturbed by visitors.” The research participants call for increased local engagement for tourism and employment opportunities in ways that support community well-being.
The chapter is aware of potential conflicts and concerns that may arise when developing management systems based on IQ principles, yet these conflicts demonstrate robust debate between Pangnirtumiut on the ways that Inuit knowledge frameworks guide park management. For example, Inuit elders interviewed spoke cautiously of applying IQ principles, which must be done with care led by Inuit; they stated that it is “inappropriate for qallunaq (non-Inuit) to conduct and share studies that combined IQ with scientific knowledge, while staff noted that elders were somewhat cautious about them (staff) sharing the knowledge and experience of elders with visitors.” There is further concern about Southern constraints on Inuit self-determination where decisions made by Southerners with particular land management accreditation would take precedence over community members who are also employed in the park, but who do not hold similar accreditation that is recognized by Southern governments. Clearly, community staff members have a knowledge of the park that exceeds Southern concepts of land management. Finally, elders voiced concern about maintaining Inuktitut language fluency across generations, because so much of the knowledge of the park is connected to the language itself. The chapter, therefore, is an examination of Inuit self-determination to envision the park’s future; this process is connected to Inuit political and social desires more broadly. The chapter maps relationships between Inuit and Southern park managers, the relationships between Inuit park managers to their communities, and the relationships between Pangnirtumiut and Inuit knowledge systems that are intertwined within Auyuittuq National Park.
*Pangnirtumiut: the Inuit peoples of Pangnirtung, Nunavut.
This chapter summary was written by Katherine Meloche. For further reading on the subject of Auyuittuq National Park, please see the original work.
Chris Jacobson, Micheline Manseau, Gary Mouland, Amy Brown, Andrew Nakashuk, Billy Etooangat, Matthew Nakashuk, Delia Siivola, Leesee-Mary Kaki, Jaypetee Kapik, Manasa Evic, Abraham Kennianak, Davidee Koonelieusee. (2016) “Co-operative Management of Auyuittuq National Park: Moving Towards Greater Emphasis and Recognition of Indigenous Aspirations for the Management of Their Lands.” In Herrmann T., Martin T. (eds) Indigenous Peoples’ Governance of Land and Protected Territories in the Arctic. Springer, Cham