Philip Cavin, graduate student in the Department of Geography and a research assistant in UNI’s Arctic Social and Environmental Systems Research Lab, had the opportunity to travel this past summer to the Canadian Arctic with Dr. Andrey Petrov.
This experience was part of a research project that aims to help develop baseline socio-economic well-being indicators for the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) sponsored through Resource and Sustainable Development in the Arctic (ReSDA) project and funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada.
Like many other Arctic regions, northern Canada has experienced an increased interest in its natural resources, especially oil and natural gas, from oil companies who conduct on- and offshore exploration in this potentially oil-rich area. The development of the baseline indicators will help the Inuit people to better understand and measure past, present and future impacts of natural resource development on their communities and lives. This will then help them to be better prepared for dealing with negotiations and cooperation with resource companies and the government.
During Philip and Dr. Petrov’s travels they had the chance to visit and talk with a wide variety of interested stakeholders: Indigenous people, public officials, and researchers. The journey began in Whitehorse, Yukon to meet with a ReSDA coordinator and visit Yukon Research Centre and then to Inuvik, Northwest Territories (N.W.T.), the capital of the Inuvialuit Region, past the Arctic Circle. Here they enjoyed the midnight sun over the McKenzie River, had a chance to try muskox hamburgers, and visit local places of interest. In Inuvik they met with IRC top officials to present them with ideas about the project as well as to get their feedback in respect to well-being indicators in development.
One of the highlights of the trip was a day trip to the community of Tuktoyaktuk, or Tuk, as it is called by the locals. Tuk is located on the Arctic Ocean at the edge of the McKenzie Delta. In Tuk they went on a full tour of the community, stepped in the Arctic Ocean and met some of the local residents along the way, which provided much entertainment. The real treasure of this day trip was the informal interviews with two local Inuit elders who shared their perspectives on the effects of the resource development and the oil boom and bust cycle on Tuk.
The last days of the trip were spent in the capital of N.W.T. Yellowknife. Here Philip and Dr. Petrov met with a leading statistician from the N.W.T. Bureau of Statistics, where they discussed their ideas and data needs.
Philip noted that, “Overall, this trip will be with me for the rest of my days, from the beautiful scenery of snowcapped mountains to the wide open tundra and Arctic Ocean to the people I met and learned from. I have truly understood that Arctic research is really a vast open field of much to learn and discover from a variety of aspects.”
Philip worked with Andrey Petrov on the Inuvialuit Indicators Project between 2011 and 2013. Read more about that project here.