Inuit Technology: Conservation Policy and Innovation in Nunavut
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This paper investigates how Inuit will continue to be the most effective advocates for their own landscapes and ways of life by using the Lancaster Sound region and recent development of Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area (TINMCA) as grounding geographies. Inuit technologies are considered in this research as new and existing policy tools that continue to shape the creation of conservation areas, and as innovative conservation tools and devices, emerging from military history in the region and current global influence. This research explores the Arctic provenance of conservation technology tools by outlining their historic involvement in 1) defense; 2) mapping; and 3) climate change while relating them to the Nunavut Land Claims A greement (NLCA) and relevant legislation. It will then explore 4) Indigenous connectivity in the region as a way of acknowledging the potential for Inuit to increase conservation advocacy, ownership of and access to data and as a way to connect to global support. Recent developments in global Indigenous Connectivity in this way, can be considered a conservation instrument and potential agent for Inuit self-dependence and empowerment. The paper will conclude by synthesizing the previous lines of inquiry and offering a hopeful and engaged vision which posits that the adoption of technological advances combined with ongoing Inuit self-determination efforts will produce positive environmental and economic development results for Inuit Nunangat (Inuit homeland in Canada). Inuit-led governance is made possible, in part, through benefit agreements and feasibility studies. The TINMCA Inuit Impact & Benefit Agreement (Nunavut, 2019), QIA 2018/19 Annual Report and the NMCA Lancaster Sound Feasibility Assessment Report (2017) help illustrate how Inuit are reclaiming and establishing governance through conservation. This is important because the technologies that this paper explores; remote sensing, biotelemetry and satellite internet connectivity all helped establish TINMCA – as an Inuit managed area – and continue to inform its viability and importance as a site for scientific research and biodiversity monitoring. Further, these technologies provide evidence of a viable Inuit conservation economy. Understanding the specific history and application of each technology will contribute to a more nuanced picture of how this landscape comes into focus. Moreover, understanding the applications of these tools will help to identify capacity building needs in adoption by the Inuit associations and capacity building needs in the scientific community.