Inuit HighwaysPublished on 11 October 2016 Blog by Senator Charlie Watt (retired)
It was my pleasure to host Dr Claudio Aporta for an exhibition of some very special Arctic maps.
For two hours on Wednesday October 5, 2016 we had a chance to showcase Inuit trails.
In the absence of paved roads between communities we have a network of seasonal trails on the sea ice, land and water. These trails remain unchanged in spite of their seasonal nature. Every spring the snow thaws and the trails disappear, but in the fall, the snow falls and the trails reappear.
The purpose of the maps is to preserve this knowledge for our youth, and to demonstrate to the nation and to the world that the Arctic lands and sea ice and waters are consistently used by Inuit.
As the world expresses interest in the Arctic, many nations assume the land is empty – but Inuit have been using the land for thousands of years, and although we don’t have permanent settlements in some of these regions, we have regular and consistent use of the territory.
We are the caretakers of the land/sea ice/ water and the Arctic is our backyard.
As I continue my work on the issue of Inuit rights to the Arctic, my guiding principles are that Inuit must be equal partners in decision-making in the Arctic, resource development must promote the health of Inuit communities, and the environment must be protected.
This mapping project is a visual representation of our networks between communities.
And, even though we are going to be working on this for many more years, we wanted to show you the amazing Inuit highways which vanish with the change of seasons, and reappear every year.