Inuit knowledge of Indicators of Salinity Change in eastern Hudson Bay - Lucassie Arragutainaq & Megan Sheremata
10:00 AM, Saturday 5 Oct 2019 (30 minutes)
Sherbrooke Pavilion (SH) - SH-3580
Inuit observations of salinity change in eastern Hudson Bay date to the late 1970s with construction of the James Bay hydroelectric project. Hydroelectricity development resulted in an increase in total freshwater flowing into Hudson Bay, and a shift in the timing of peak freshening of coastal waters from spring to winter, when demand for hydroelectricity is at its highest for home heating. This shift has led to less saline surface waters, which has been compounded by climate change in recent years. To understand the cumulative effects of environmental change in the region over the past 50 years, the communities of Kuujjuaraapik, Umiujaq and Inukjuak in Nunavik, and the community of Sanikiluaq on the Belcher Islands of Nunavut have established a community-driven monitoring network, in collaboration with the Arctic Eider Society, and have systematically documented increasingly fresher surface waters in winter. However, given insufficient baseline data from which to evaluate these changes, hunters have proposed an integrated approach that engages with Inuit knowledge to identify meaningful indicators of salinity change, and to provide historical context. As such, interviews with elders and other experienced land-users were conducted in 2017, and analyses of these interviews has occurred collaboratively with each community since the spring of 2018. This presentation provides an overview of Inuit knowledge of salinity change in the region, which are discussed in the context of prior studies of Inuit knowledge in the region. We highlight Inuit perspectives of the significance of salinity change, and community priorities for future research and decision-making.