WHO WE ARE
THE ARCTIC EIDER
The Arctic Eider Society / Société des Eiders de l’Arctique (SEA~AES; pronounced ‘sea ice’) is a registered Canadian charity working with Inuit and Cree communities to provide training and capacity in community-driven research, culturally relevant education for youth, and innovative tools and technologies to help communities address issues of food security, safety and environmental stewardship for sea ice and marine ecosystems.
We develop meaningful relationships with communities, combining indigenous knowledge and traditional tools with scientific research and cutting edge technology to address issues of local concern. We empower youth and hunters with the training, tools and technology they need to document and address the changes they are observing.
By connecting programs among communities and engaging the public and decision makers using innovative multimedia and communication strategies, we are turning knowledge into action for environmental justice issues in Hudson Bay and across the Arctic.
The greater Hudson Bay ecosystem remains a critical but particularly understudied region of the Arctic. Inuit and Cree have articulated long-standing concerns over the influence of environmental change and development projects on sea ice habitats and wildlife that, until recently, have remained unaddressed. The community of Sanikiluaq established the Hudson Bay Programme in the early 1990s in response to new and proposed development, as well as large entrapments and die offs of belugas and eider ducks. This effort let to Voices from the Bay, a unique synthesis of Inuit and Cree knowledge and priorities from 23 communities around Hudson Bay. These priorities include developing networked community-driven research, education and training programs and environmental stewardship. Implementing programs to address these priorities remains the primary focus of the Arctic Eider Society.
Capacity for community-based monitoring was established in the early 2000s through collaboration with Environment Canada to study sea ice habitats and wildlife ecology. The strong community relationships and research outcomes led to one of Canada’s largest and most successful training, education and outreach initiatives for International Polar Year (2007-2010), and production of our 16x award winning film People of a Feather. As a legacy to these programs, we formalized the Arctic Eider Society as a registered Canadian charity in 2011 and supporters like you have helped turn our vision for knowledge to action into reality over the last five years.
Since that time, we’ve formed a Community-Driven Research Network building many new partnerships and expanding our highly effective community-first programs from Sanikiluaq, Nunavut to include Inukjuak, Umiujaq, Kuujjuaraapik (Nunavik, QC) and Chisasibi (Eeyou Marine Region, QC). This has created substantial local capacity for large-scale coordinated efforts to assessing cumulative impacts and meaningful employment for local Inuit and Cree. We’ve also implemented our long-term vision of engaging the next generation of Inuit and Cree youth as environmental leaders and community researchers through our development of culturally-relevant curriculum for math and science, training and post-graduation employment opportunities in conduction with our experienced community researchers. To facilitate ongoing momentum of these grassroots efforts, we’ve made significant progress in initiate a Hudson Bay Consortium, providing a structure for environmental stewardship across the Arctic’s most complex region of jurisdictional overlap, addressing major hurdles which have impeded progress for the region to date.
We develop cutting-edge technology that serves to connect our diverse programs. Our interactive knowledge mapping platform shares program results in real and near-real time, making them accessible to communities and stakeholders. Our new SIKU platform will provide a wide variety of tools and services for northern indigenous communities to facilitate knowledge transfer, sea ice safety, participatory mapping, language preservation, education, training and environmental stewardship through a user friendly social media style interface. We are proud to announce that our technological innovation is being recognized: we’ve been shortlisted as one of Canada’s top 10 charities in the 2017 Google.org Impact Challenge. Of course, we still use good old high tech eider down in our parkas, because the best technology isn’t always the newest technology. We couldn’t have gotten here without you, thank you for all the support to date. We look forward to continuing the journey with you as we work to address priorities of northern communities.
Eider down is the warmest feather in the world – nature’s technology for storing heat and surviving cold Arctic winters. As a critical source of food and clothing for Inuit on the Belcher Islands, the Eider Duck symbolizes the proverbial ‘canary in the coal mine’ for environmental change in Hudson Bay.
Our interdisciplinary programs consider many aspects of sea ice ecosystems, but it all got started with the Arctic Eider: our inspiration to address environmental issues affecting sea ice, to preserve Inuit culture and knowledge, and to seek solutions that work with nature’s innovation. We pride ourselves on developing cutting-edge technology, while embracing tried and true technologies and innovations of northerners. Our fascination with the contrast between new and old technology is a theme running through much of our work. For us this means finding novel ways to link indigenous knowledge with science; and while we’re out on the ice using high tech oceanographic gear, drones to map sea ice or mobile apps to capture observations, we’re still wearing eider down and using a harpoon to check sea ice safety. The eider down feather continues to be our inspiration for innovation, for keeping things simple yet effective, and reminding us of our roots.