From the Voices of Elders to the Policies of Government: Nunatsiavut Inuit Domestic Harvest and Distribution Study
The 2005 Land Claims Agreement in Northern Labrador created the aboriginal government of Nunatsiavut (NG). NG is committed to managing its renewable terrestrial and marine resources in ways to ensure sustainable use of these resources consistent with traditional life styles and cultural values.
In addition to extensive scientific information, information is required on the harvest levels for traditionally important fauna and flora resources as well as the processes through which the resources are shared. This study is the most comprehensive attempt yet to document in quantitative terms the level of resource harvesting and patterns of sharing for several culturally and life style important resources, specifically several marine-based birds, caribou, Atlantic salmon and Arctic char.
The ensuring of traditional life styles and cultural values depend to a large extent on the sustainable exploitation of valued resources. Under the terms of the Land Claims Agreement of 2005, the Inuit government of Nunatsiavut may be required to provide Inuit Domestic Harvest Levels (IDHLs) or estimates of what level of resource harvesting on a species-by-species basis is required to protect and perpetuate traditional life styles and cultural values.
Provision of such information requires a detailed and specific set of estimates of current harvest levels, the structure of the sharing or distribution network and the normative basis providing meaning and legitimacy to such activities. The current work ensures virtually every household in Northern Labrador coastal communities is being contacted to provide relevant information. This fact makes the research effort one of the largest and most extensive surrounding aboriginal collaborative management in Canada or in fact across the entire Northern Arctic, including Alaska, Greenland, Finmark and Siberia.
The research has considerable policy relevance in areas of aboriginal self-governance and collaborative resource management.