Connections to the land: the politics of health and wellbeing in Arviat Nunavut

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Blakney, Sherrie Lee
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Connections to the Land: the Politics of Health and Wellbeing in Arviat, Nunavut is about traditional knowledge as process. The thesis examines the relationships between Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ) [“the Inuit way of doing things”; traditional knowledge (TK);], Inuit perceptions of health and wellbeing and the land; and what the relationships mean for integrated coastal and ocean management. Among Arviat Inuit (Arviarmiut), IQ, health and wellbeing and the land are tightly interconnected. When one relationship is stressed, disruptions occur throughout the whole system. IQ is embedded in Inuit perceptions of health and wellbeing, and to be healthy, Inuit maintain they must interact with the land in Inuit ways. In 2004, issues surrounding the nature of IQ, its control, production, documentation and legitimation were contested by Arviarmiut. Inuit strongly resented input from academics, resource managers, scientists or other southern “experts”. Arviarmiut sensitivities regarding IQ were in part the result of the rapid social change that had occurred over the last half century. Social systems suffered upheaval as colonial processes and institutions impacted values, networks, families and identity. The rate of change did not allow for time for traditional systems to adapt, and aspects of social change happened out of sync with each other resulting in dysfunction. Arviat’s history of relocation, uneven social change and expanded communication ability all affected the formation of IQ. Through participatory research, participant observation, interviews and network-building with Inuit organizations, the research explores IQ as process and the interconnections with the land and wellbeing. It recommends greater integration of Inuit into resource management planning and decision-making in ways consistent with IQ; and allowing Inuit to decide what processes and policies are most appropriate for them.
Inuit, Aboriginal, Traditional knowledge, health, wellbeing, cultural anthropology, natural resource management, integrated management