Inuit Health Education and Adaptation

Current research projects (2019-2023)

Bringing back the beluga whale harvest in Aklavik

Location: Aklavik, Inuvialuit Settlement Region
Inuvialuit in Aklavik have a long history of harvesting beluga whale (qilalukkat) on the coast of the Mackenzie Estuary. Since the 1990s, the hamlet’s harvest numbers have declined dramatically due to a combination of environmental change and social challenges. After interviews and discussions with many harvesters about the changes they are facing, the project has identified ways this harvest can be revived. For future generations to confidently harvest whales, Elders and hunters need to pass on their knowledge through shared, lived experiences. This can happen at on-the-land camps on the coast during the summer. This needs to be immersive: three weeks long, open to any who are interested to learn, and taught by both Elders and experienced harvesters. By bringing together the generations on the land to transfer knowledge, the Aklavik beluga harvest can continue in a safe way.