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Visionary: Hearts in the Ice- By the North, for the North

Location: Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Canada

Focus: Indigenous community citizen science

Supporting citizen scientists rooted directly in indigenous communities of the Canadian Arctic

Climate change has widespread and sweeping impacts in the Arctic that have important implications for Inuit culture, livelihoods, identity, and health and wellness. Past research documents clear links between past climate change and Inuit mental health and physical health impacts; however, less is known about how these risks will change in the future.

It has been proven that Indigenous knowledge is consistently under-represented and under-utilized when it relates to making decisions regarding climate change impacts on social, economic, physical and environmental levels. They have deep connectivity to their land coupled with insights and observations that would only enhance traditional science’s understanding of these remote and unique Arctic regions and the impacts of climate change.

As resources and information are more readily available to scientists it matters that we level the playing field by ensuring the indigenous people –women, children and men also have access to resources, information, training and funding.

Indigenous peoples are among the most vulnerable to climate change due to their close relationship with the natural world, traditional lifestyles, and in some cases, geographic location. For instance, climate change can threaten safe access to the land for harvesting plants and animals, endangering food security, cultural continuity and thus have a huge impact on mental health and social stability. 

For these reasons and others, Indigenous peoples are uniquely positioned to provide leadership on climate change monitoring and adaptation efforts. 

Indigenous knowledge is in effect, community /citizen science in real time. 

While funding is readily available for scientists to study Climate impacts in the Arctic, the same funding or access is not available for the Indigenous communities.