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Inuit knowledge sheds light on climate change

The Vancouver Sun reported in January that climate change is responsible for brighter skies over Canada’s arctic. According to the…

By Jacqueline Ronson , in Northern Lights in the City , on March 2, 2011 Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Vancouver Sun reported in January that climate change is responsible for brighter skies over Canada’s arctic. According to the article:

“Wayne Davidson, a weather station operator in Resolute Bay — one of Canada’s most northerly communities — said Inuit hunters have noticed for years that the dark Arctic night is becoming lighter.”

Wait. The Inuit have known this for years, and now that a white guy confirms what they have observed, it’s news?

Scientists have said for some time that the effects of climate change are most dramatic in the Arctic, but the experiences of the people living there are often ignored or forgotten.

The Inuit lived in the Far North as nomadic hunters until Canadian government policy forced them into settlements in the mid 20th century.

They have experienced their environment in a way that scientists who merely travel there for a few months or years could not fully understand. They truly are climate change experts.

When I visited Baker Lake, Nunavut, three years ago, locals told me of species of animals and insects that were seen on the land for the first time as summers grew longer and warmer. There were no names in Inuktitut for these new things.

Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change (2010) tells the story of a changing environment through the eyes of a population whose ancestors depended on the land for survival for thousands of years.

The documentary was co-directed by Zacharias Kunuk, who rose to international fame in 2001 for Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner.

Check out co-director Ian Mauro’s blog about the process of creating the climate change documentary.

Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change can be streamed online from IsumaTV. The independent production company behind Atanarjuat launched this social networking tool in 2008 to support the creation and sharing of Inuit and aboriginal multimedia. The site now boasts over 2000 videos in 41 languages.

Inuit knowledge is based in an oral tradition, and film is a great medium for storytelling.

It’s no real surprise that more and more Inuit are making films about their own communities, and that the National Film Board is getting in on the trend.

These stories need to be told. It’s time for the rest of Canada to start watching and listening.


  • Global climate warming is a fact.

    I was surfing on the internet the other day, and I’ve also found a mention of a great 3D documentary project about Johnny May, the Inuit aviator, on a website called touscoprod. He has been flying over the arctic area for almost 40 years, and so witnessed the environmental change. .

    This documentary project is quite new obviously, and you can become co-producer of the documentary and eventually be rewarded with some exclusive access to great contents and services (meeting with the director, previews, premiere tickets…). I’m in!

    Here is the link

    If you feel as concerned as I do about global warming, do not hesitate to support it as well.

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