North

North Water Polynya commission heads to Grise Fiord, Pond Inlet

A special commission of the Inuit Circumpolar Council is heading to two High Arctic communities this week to get residents' input on protecting the North Water Polynya.

Inuit Circumpolar Council commission seeks input on managing area of year-round open water

Okalik Eegeesiak, the Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, is a member of the commission heading to the High Arctic this week for consultations about the North Water Polynya. (Sima Sahar Zerehi/CBC)

A special commission of the Inuit Circumpolar Council is heading to two High Arctic communities this week to get residents' input on protecting the North Water Polynya.

Polynya are areas of year-round open water surrounded by sea ice. The North Water Polynya — traditionally known as Pikialasorsuaq — between Ellesmere Island and Greenland is approximately 85,000 square kilometres in size and is a critical habitat for many species Inuit depend on, such as narwhal and beluga. 

Commission members Okalik Eegeesiak, the international chairperson of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, former Nunavut premier Eva Aariak and former Greenland premier Kuupik Kleist will travel to Grise Fiord and Pond Inlet for consultations.

Representatives from Resolute have been invited to the session in Grise Fiord, and representatives from Clyde River and Arctic Bay are invited to the session in Pond Inlet. 

"I think this will be a very strong piece of recommendation to the outside world on how Inuit would like to protect, or conserve, or co-manage the area," said Eegeesiak.

She said the commission expects to hear from groups such as Hunters and Trappers Organizations, community lands and resources committees under QIA and any local Inuit knowledge-holders.

Officials say the consultations will be unprecedented, taking place before proposals for shipping or development have even been submitted. 

Consultations will also take place later this year in Greenland.

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