Inuit Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), Subsistence Hunting and Adaptation to Climate Change in the Canadian Arctic
Tristan David PEARCE
This paper examines the role of Inuit traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) in adaptation to climate change in the Canadian Arctic. It focuses on Inuit relationships with the Arctic environment, including hunting knowledge and land skills, and examines their roles in adaptation to biophysical changes that affect subsistence hunting. In several instances, TEK underpins competency in subsistence and adaptations to changing conditions, which includes flexibility with regard to seasonal cycles of hunting and resource use, hazard avoidance through detailed knowledge of the environment and understanding of ecosystem processes, and emergency preparedness, e.g., knowing what supplies to take when traveling and how to respond in emergency situations. Despite the documented importance of TEK in adaptation and in maintaining a level of competency in subsistence, the relationships between TEK and adaptation to climate change are not well defined in the scholarly literature. This paper aims to conceptualize the relationships between TEK and adaptation to climate change by drawing on case study research with Inuit in the Canadian Arctic. TEK is considered an element of adaptive capacity (or resilience) that is expressed as adaptation if TEK is drawn upon to adapt to changing conditions. This capacity depends on the development, accumulation, and transmission of TEK within and among generations.
Dr. Tristan Pearce is a Senior Research Fellow in Geography in the Sustainability Research Centre at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia and Adjunct Faculty in the Department of Geography at the University of Guelph, Canada. He leads an established interdisciplinary research program in cultural geography with an international research profile in Indigenous knowledge and the human dimensions of global environmental change (www.envchange.com). Dr. Pearce has long-term research relationships with Inuit in the Canadian Arctic and newly developed research relationships with Indigenous peoples elsewhere in Canada, Australia and the Pacific Islands (Fiji and Tuvalu). Much of his work focuses on the generation and transmission of Indigenous knowledge and its role and importance in adaptation to environmental change. He is committed to decolonizing research relationships with Indigenous peoples and continually works to develop research projects with Indigenous partners. This involves engaging Indigenous research partners throughout the entire research process from problem identification to data collection and analysis, and results dissemination. He has consistently published scholarly outputs from his research including 40+ peer-reviewed publications. Tristan is from Prince George, British Columbia, Canada, the traditional territory of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nations.