A Place Like No Other: Pond Inlet, Nunavut

Posted on Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

Written by Hilary Sadowsky

Hilary Sadowsky is a graduate student in the Master’s of Rural Planning and Development at the University of Guelph.  She is working on a research project that aims to explore the roles of environmental researchers in enhancing scientific literacy for Inuit youth in Nunavut.  Hilary is working under the supervision of Dr. Nicolas Brunet, who obtained a SSHRC grant making this research project possible, and with guidance from Dr. Sheri Longboat (University of Guelph) and Dr. Dominique Henri (Environment and Climate Change Canada).

I arrived in Pond Inlet just one week ago.  It was 30 degrees and humid when I left Guelph; landing in Pond Inlet just 12 hours later it was -2 degrees and snowing.  This is the beginning of two months of field research in the Canadian Arctic.  Welcome to the Hamlet of Pond Inlet, Nunavut (population ~1,600).

Hilary Sadowsky in front of sign post at Pond InletPhoto above:  This sign post tells me that I’m still closer to Nuuk (Greenland) than I am to the North Pole.  Pond Inlet latitude 72.7001°N and longitude 77.9585°W.

My purpose in being here is to learn about the roles of environmental researchers in engaging Inuit youth in land-based, scientific learning.  Community involvement in environmental research is becoming more common in Arctic and northern communities in Canada.  Arctic environmental research creates opportunities for education and employment, and researchers seek partnerships with knowledgeable, skilled community members.  Including youth in this process is an important step in supporting the next generation of leaders in environmental research and stewardship.  We are interested in the ways that youth in Nunavut can develop their skills in science and engage in scientific learning activities with environmental researchers on the land and in town.

I am very fortunate to have found a group of motivated and impassioned young people from the community to work with me on this project while I am in Pond Inlet.  I am also glad for their kindness and sense of humour; I will inevitably make mistakes and need their guidance.  I am also excited to be able to stay at the Environment and Climate Change Canada research station, which has helped to make my stay in Pond Inlet possible.  Having only been here for a few days, we are still sitting at an early stage of the field work.  However, I know that my two months here will fly by!

View of water and rocks facing mountains of Bylot IslandPhoto above: Pond Inlet faces the beautiful mountains of Bylot Island across Eclipse Sound.  With a view like this, I have to remind myself that I’m not here on vacation.

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