The Sikumiut model: a cross-cultural decolonizing research approach for see ice travel safety in Mittimatalik, Nunavut

Wilson, Katherine Jean (2022) The Sikumiut model: a cross-cultural decolonizing research approach for see ice travel safety in Mittimatalik, Nunavut. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Greater collaboration with Inuit in community-based sea ice research has led to changes in research approaches used by non-Indigenous researchers. However, there remains a gap in the collaborative sea ice literature describing how non-Indigenous researchers are decolonizing themselves and their research. This thesis explores a personal and collective research journey with Sikumiut (people of the sea ice), an Inuit research management committee from Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet), Nunavut, in order to fill this gap and to support the greater goal of Inuit self-determination in research It describes: 1) my decolonizing methodology; 2) the process of co-developing the Sikumiut model, a cross-cultural decolonizing research approach to advance Inuit self-determination in research; and 3) transitioning from theory into practice to meet Sikumiut’s research needs. Variable sea ice conditions, a reduced travel season, and pressure to expand shipping are climate change impacts compounding the dangers of sea ice travel in Mittimatalik. Sikumiut wanted to document their Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ, Inuit knowledge) to share critical sea ice travel knowledge and skills with youth, and to understand where and when the sea ice is changing. The Sikumiut model reconceptualized typical research approaches, with Sikumiut governing the research, and non-Indigenous research partners training and mentoring Inuit youth to conduct the research. The multiple benefits of Inuit leading and conducting this research, to capture and mobilize their own sea ice IQ are described through the co-production of: 1) Sikumiut’s illustrated sea ice terminology book, three seasonal sea ice travel maps and two safety posters for community use; and 2) the Mittimatalik siku asijjipallianinga (sea ice change atlas), which involved the Inuit interpretation of satellite imagery and sea ice charts from 1997 to 2019 based on sea ice travel IQ. The Sikumiut products show the continued relevance of IQ as an adaptation tool for safe sea ice travel. The atlas also provides evidence that shipping during critical periods of sea ice formation and break-up would compromise the integrity and duration of the sea ice travel season for the community.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 15510
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references.
Keywords: sea ice, Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, decolonizing research, Inuit self-determination, Nunavut
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Geography
Date: May 2022
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Qualitative research--Nunavut--Mittimatalik; Sea ice--Nunavut--Mittimatalik; Decolonization--Nunavut--Mittimatalik; Inuit--Nunavut; Ethnoscience--Nunavut--Mittimatalik.

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