Back to list

Co-chairs: Stephanie Meakin (Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada)

Maya Gold (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)

Shari Fox (Inuit Circumpolar Counicl Canada)

Larry Audlaluk (Grise Fiord)

Andrew Hamilton (University of Ottawa)


Pikialasorsuaq, the North Water polynya, is the largest polynya in the Northern hemisphere and is the most biologically diverse ecosystem north of the Arctic Circle. The Pikialasorsuaq has sustained Inuit and their ancestors for millennia on both the Canadian and Greenlandic sides of the polynya, providing critical habitat for marine species hunted for food. Today the Pikialasorsuaq area is facing many challenges, not least from climate change. Based on concerns by Inuit in the region on potential impacts on this ecologically and culturally significant region from increased shipping, fishing and marine tourism and conserving the ecologically and cultural significant polynya, the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) formed the Pikialasorsuaq Commission whose mandate was to consult with numerous communities in Canada and Greenland and summarize recommendations. Subsequently, the Pikialasorsuaq Implementation Committee (PIC) was formed to facilitate a sustainable, joint Inuit-led management plan, aimed to be implemented across Canadian and Greenlandic/Danish waters. This session intends to provide context around the needs of the communities in this biologically diverse and ecologically sensitive polynya and surrounding region in times of lessened sea ice extent and climate change. The session further aims to promote discussion among communities, regional Inuit organizations, Canadian and Greenlandic government departments, academics, industry and NGO's regarding future partnerships, plans and funding structures for the Pikialasorsuaq. This session hopes to hear from community voices, the scientists and Inuit knowledge holders, that will help us understand the physical change, to governance and legal instruments that may form a future management plan and lead the audience through the many facets, that need to be considered to ensure the Pikialaosrsuaq continues to be a source of Inuit cultural identify, food security, and a unique and productive ecological marine region in the high Arctic.