Hudson Bay is Canada’s largest drainage basin, is key to fresh-water marine coupling, and provides critical habitat for wildlife. It’s coordinated stewardship is key to build capacity for thriving Indigenous communities that rely on these resources. Hudson and James Bay’s historical significance is rivaled only by its huge potential for further economic development; yet it remains one of the least funded and understudied regions in Canada. Lacking an integrated governance structure, inter-jurisdictional challenges have complicated research and stewardship efforts. Developing a structure for coordinated Indigenous-driven stewardship has been a top priority for many years.
This ground-breaking work led by the community of Sanikiluaq brought together Inuit and Cree knowledge of environmental change from communities all over James Bay and Hudson Bay, winning an award from the United Nations. Through the Hudson Bay Program that delivered this, community priorities for stewardship, coordinated research and knowledge transfer have been outlined as a guide for the future of the region.
The most complicated region of jurisdictional overlap in the Arctic, Hudson Bay and James Bay include Nunavut, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba, the overlapping Nunavut, Nunavik and Eeyou Marine Regions. Many federal departments are similarly split across these jurisdictions.
The Hudson Bay Consortium is a collaborative effort among communities, rights holders, Indigenous organizations and all levels of government to work together towards a shared vision for the region, including knowledge sharing, sustainable development, coordinated research and monitoring, integrated regional stewardship and Indigenous Knowledge-informed management. AES helped catalyze this collaborative initiative, which was formally launched at the Hudson Bay Summit in winter 2018, and is providing administrative services and in-kind support on an ongoing basis.
SIKU: The Indigenous Knowledge Social Network is a key tool for stewardship of the Hudson Bay – James Bay region and is being used to mobilize hard to find documents and reports, coordinate on active projects, organizations and events, and is built to provide similar tools for stewardship capacity for other regions. Indigenous knowledge is mobilized, inter-generational communication is poignant, projects are community-driven and research results are offered back to communities who can advise safety and policy applications. SIKU is addressing an instrumental gap in Arctic governance and environmental sustainability. To find out more about SIKU and become an active participant, please visit siku.org.
This project is a partnership between the Sanikiluaq Hunters and Trappers Association, Municipality of Sanikiluaq and AES working with the Qikiqtani Inuit Association to plan and implement a community-driven approach to marine and terrestrial protected areas for Qikiqtait (the Belcher Islands), one of the most unique and ecologically significant archipelagos in the world. Stewardship and guardians programs are being developed by Sanikiluarmiut to take care of this region for future generations.