People of the Ice Bridge: Connecting Inuit Leaders from both sides of the Pikialasorsuaq Polynya


This week, our Arctic Youth & Partnerships Manager, Caitlyn Baikie, is in Nuuk, kalaallit Nunaat/ Greenland for a 3-day workshop. “Coming Together – People of the Ice Bridge” focuses on the management and protection of the the Pikialasorsuaq Polynya, a marine hotspot stretching across Greenland and Canada’s common border. Led by the Inuit Circumpolar Council, the event connects Inuit leaders, researchers, community representatives, and government delegates. Participants build on the council’s work stewarding the unique ecosystem in the area.

The Pikialasorsuaq is a polynya, or a body of polar water that remains unfrozen/partially thawed throughout the year. This allows for a diverse bird and mammal community to thrive. Animals use the area to feed, mate, and spawn, which explains why polynyas are sometimes described as “arctic oases”. However, although the ice bridge that forms the polynya has served as a migration corridor for Inuit for thousands of years, warmer temperatures have begun to affect the reliability of the area.

For nearly two decades, SOI has partnered with regional, national and international Inuit organizations from both sides of the Pikialasorsuaq. These relationships are built to ensure that our education program accurately reflects the opportunities and challenges that Inuit face on a daily basis. SOI was pleased to welcome Kuupik Vandersee Kleist and Nancy Karetak-Lindell of ICC on board our 2017 Arctic expedition as educators. Kuupik and Nancy were vital in educating our participants on the Pikialasorsuaq Commission and the ongoing work of ICC to advocate for Inuit self-governance and management of lands and oceans.

The 2018 and 2019 SOI Arctic expeditions will allow participants to travel throughout Western Greenland and Eastern Nunavut, learning from a broad network of Inuit knowledge-holders along the way.  With this itinerary in mind, we look forward to advancing ocean literacy through a special focus on Inuit-led co-management of areas like the Pikialasorsuaq in our education program.

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This website was made possible by a generous contribution from the Leacross Foundation.