The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation’s Indigenous Guardians project is coming up on the one-year mark and those involved are reporting healthy results.
Indigenous Guardians project manager Kurt Ruben said: “Every one of our monitors in the six Inuvialuit Settlement Region communities is doing a great job.
“They have nothing but support from the community members, the Hunters and Trappers Committee (HTC) council, and for now, we’re comfortable where we’re at.”
The Munaqsiyit Community Monitoring Project received funding from the federal government in 2019 to collect year-round data on harvesting patterns using traditional knowledge, helping the six communities prepare for the effects of climate change.
Allen Kogiak from Aklavik, Max Kotokak Sr from Inuvik, Frank Wolki from Paulatuk, and Corey Esau from Sachs Harbour were chosen for training starting in October 2019 before heading out on the land near their communities to observe and collect data.
Covid-19 resulted in the cancellation of many training activities. Ruben expects completion of those to begin once the NWT reaches phase three of its pandemic recovery plan, expected once a second wave of the disease has been and gone in southern Canada.
At that point, he said, “we can eventually start looking into getting our monitors trained in what they need to be trained for each community, building capacity and ensuring that they have the right certificates.”
Even though the monitors haven’t had all the training they were supposed to receive, Ruben says they have been busy. Munaqsiyit monitors have helped out with monitoring the Beluga harvest, bear activity, and stream biology in partnership the Wilfrid Laurier University, and by locating harvest waste.
“Just reading the reports, it’s almost like visually being there,” said Ruben, describing the information received from the monitors.
“Most of the time their reports are immaculate and it feels as though, while reading them, you’re out there right beside the monitor as they collect data, report, and document. They’re doing an amazing job.”
Monitors are currently collecting data using iPads then reporting at meetings once a month, either in person or by sending a written report.
The program has funding from Environment and Climate Change Canada until 2021.
“I’m hoping that we can go back to the same funder and reapply for another three years. This program is amazing,” said Ruben, adding the program offers relief to officers from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources as well as local enforcement officers.
“The end goal is to not look for funding any more,” said Ruben. “Cross our fingers, in the future funders will come to us and realize the amazing things that these guys are doing.”