The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation is developing its first ever climate change adaptation strategy for its Inuit communities that are struggling to deal with the onslaught of an unpredictable and warmer Arctic.

"Tuk is really experiencing climate change. Erosion is a serious problem," said Chukita Gruben, one of Tuktoyaktuk's climate change monitors. "Houses are getting close to the ocean. Our graveyard site is also a serious problem, because due to the erosion it may cave in or fall into the water."

The final strategy document will be completed in the summer. In April a website will be launched.

In the meantime the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation has been conducting community consultations. Last week it hosted a conference in Inuvik where 26 representatives from all Inuvialuit communities met and discussed what each community would like to see in the final document.

Shrinking ice

Communities like Ulukhaktok have been sharing their first-hand view of the Arctic Ocean's shrinking ice pack. Residents are worried that as less ice remains in the spring and summer there will be fewer places for seals to mate.


Adam Kudlak of Ulukhaktok says changing seas ice conditions make it harder for people in his community to hunt seals. (David Thurton/CBC)

"When I was growing up and when my kids were growing up, the ice used to stay till mid-June. Even into July. We are lucky if we have it into springtime," community member Adam Kudlak said.

Disappearing or weak ice has affected the way the Victoria Island community hunts today.

"The ice is changing. We used to get thick ice but now we don't. So that means we have to go duck hunting in a boat most times," Kendra Kudlak said.

Coastal erosion

Communities like Tuktoyaktuk already have plans to deal with a coast that's disappearing.

The hamlet proposes placing concrete blocks along the eroding coast to stop the sea from eating away more land, especially around high risk areas like the community's cemetery.

"Who would want to see our deceased loved ones fall into the sea? It would be very disturbing," Gruben said.

However for some areas, Tuktoyaktuk's mayor said the community is already considering relocating some homes.

"It's going to be quite costly, but our plan is to do shoreline protection but also to withdraw," mayor Darrel Nasogaluak said.

He said communities won't be able to do these changes on their own, and they will need help from the territorial and federal governments.