Online Atlas of Traditional Land-Use Knowledge of Canadian Arctic Inuit of the Kitikmeot Region

June 19, 2018

Cambridge Bay, Nunavut – June 20, 2018 – A user-friendly web atlas that details Inuit traditional and current uses of territory in the Canadian Arctic has been launched today. Available for free on the web, the Naonaiyaotit Traditional Knowledge Project Atlas is an important outreach and educational tool for sharing the deep knowledge and history of the Kitikmeot Inuit in Canada’s Central Arctic.

This collaborative project was developed between the Marine Affairs Program at Dalhousie University and the Kitikmeot Inuit Association (KIA), with the engagement and technical support of Esri Canada, with financial support provided by Dominion Diamond Mines ULC.

The atlas contains a selection of material obtained from hundreds of interviews, photographs and mapping sessions conducted in the context of the Naonaiyaotit Traditional Knowledge Project (NTKP). NTKP was initiated in 1996 during the environmental assessment for the proposed Ekati Diamond Mine, in a partnership between Kitikmeot Inuit organizations and BHP Billiton (BHPB), which provided most of the financial support. Dominion Diamond Mines ULC, the current owner and operator of the Ekati mine, continues to provide funding to the project.  

“This atlas is another way to show the extent of use and complexity of the knowledge that Inuit have over the land and marine spaces where they live. It also shows how new geographic information system technologies can be used to document well-established oral traditions,” says Claudio Aporta, director of the Marine Affairs Program and of MAP VisLab at Dalhousie University and lead investigator on this project.

Stanley Anablak, President of Kitikmeot Inuit Association said, “The NTKP is a valuable collection of traditional knowledge from our elders about land use, wildlife, and ways of living.  Traditionally, this information has been passed down orally from generation to generation.  With new technologies, we are able to present and share this valuable information in a new format that can be used for educational purposes, for cultural programming and for heritage preservation.  We can also use this traditional knowledge for mitigating the impacts of development in the Kitikmeot region.”

Powered by Esri’s ArcGIS Online technology, the atlas presents a selection of Inuit Traditional Knowledge (TK) for the Kitikmeot region through interactive maps, compelling images and narrative text. Users can navigate through numerous tabs on the atlas to explore a broad range of traditional knowledge—from place names and traditional trails, to their knowledge and interactions with terrestrial and marine mammals, fish and birds.  It also showcases the complexity and depth of the Kitikmeot Inuit knowledge, demonstrating the extent to which the full territory (marine and land areas) has been systematically used for centuries.

According to Dr. Brent Hall, Director of Education and Research at Esri Canada, “Using GIS technology on the Internet provides an efficient means for sharing Kitikmeot Inuit knowledge with a broad audience. The customized Esri ’story map’ user interface that was developed for the atlas allows users to learn, through the activities and words of the Kitikmeot Inuit, a rich and compelling visual story of Inuit wisdom and life in Canada’s most remote environment.”

Explore the atlas:

About Dalhousie University
Founded in 1818, Dalhousie University is one of Canada’s oldest universities, attracting more than 18,800 students from around the world. The university blends transformative academic programs with pioneering research on Canada’s East Coast. The Marine Affairs Program (MAP) at Dalhousie University provides an inquiring and stimulating interdisciplinary learning environment to advance the sustainable use of the world’s diverse coastal and ocean environments. MAP works with other educational, governmental, NGO and private sector organizations to promote and conduct timely and relevant interdisciplinary research in a broad array of ocean and coastal related issues.

About Kitikmeot Inuit Association
The Kitikmeot Inuit Association (KIA) was incorporated in 1976 to represent and promote the interests of the Kitikmeot Inuit. The KIA is a democratically elected not-for-profit society. KIAs mandate is to ‘manage Kitikmeot Inuit lands and resources, and to protect and promote the social, cultural, political, environmental and economic well-being of Kitikmeot Inuit’. The KIA owns 106,360 Km2 of surface Inuit Owned Land in the Kitikmeot Region, and the Naonaiyaotit Traditional Knowledge Project includes information relevant to many of these lands.

About Dominion Diamond Mines ULC
Dominion Diamond Mines ULC is a Canadian diamond mining company with ownership interests in two major producing diamond mines situated approximately 200 kilometers south of the Arctic Circle in Canada's Northwest Territories. The Company operates the Ekati Diamond Mine (in which it owns a controlling interest), and also owns 40% of the Diavik Diamond Mine. It supplies rough diamonds to the global market through its sorting and selling operations in Canada, Belgium and India and is Canada's largest independent diamond producer.

About Esri Canada  
Founded in 1984, Esri Canada provides geographic information system (GIS) solutions that empower people in business, government and education to make informed and timely decisions by leveraging the power of mapping and spatial analytics. These solutions enable organizations to better manage their resources, plan their future and collaborate within and beyond their organization. Esri Canada’s products and services help advance successful digital transformation. The company serves 12,000 organizations from 16 offices across Canada and is based in Toronto. In 2015, Esri Canada became a Gold Standard winner of Canada’s Best Managed Companies and in 2016 was named one of Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures. More information can be found at Follow Esri Canada on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn.

Media Contacts:
Esri Canada: Mary Ambrose;; (647) 921-7027
Dalhousie: Nicole Comeau; nikki.comeau@Dal.Ca;  (902) 223-2446
Kitikmeot Inuit Association: Geoff Clark;; (867) 982-3310

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