CBC News, 16 August 2006

Tuktoyaktuk conference focuses on Arctic Ocean changes

Hundreds of scientists, bureaucrats, academics and aboriginal northerners are in Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., to discuss the dramatic changes in the Arctic Ocean and the impacts on the people who live on the coast.

They're attending Arctic Change and Coastal Communities, the first Arctic conference put on by the Coastal Zone Canada Association.

Papers to be presented range from how increased ground shrub cover will affect caribou to a resident's climate change observations on Banks Island to how emerging diseases may affect marine mammals.

Topics like Canada's Arctic sovereignty and the prospects for a Northwest Passage, which could become a reality if global warming melts the Arctic ice pack enough, are also on the agenda.

One the main goals of the meeting is to improve communication between Arctic communities and the scientific community.

In a keynote speech on Tuesday, former Nunavut commissioner Peter Irniq said he hoped the conference will help bridge the gap between the cultures of the North and of science.

Southern research needs to better reflect the needs of northerners and how they relate to the Arctic ecosystem, he said.

Local groups and organizations are presenting papers, which may help bridge the gap Irniq identified.

John Keogak, an "active harvester," will present a report on changes to the Banks Island landscape he has observed, including "pictures of what I see on the island, which vividly depict how dramatic the changes are that are already occurring."

Nunavuummi Tasiujarjuamiuguqatigiit Katutjiqatigiingit (Nunavut Hudson Bay Inter-Agency Working Group) is proposing the establishment of a community-based monitoring network and of a co-operative stewardship body "to make tangible progress on sound ecosystem-based, integrated management of the Hudson Bay bioregion."

Southern scientists will talk aspects of global warming, seen as the cause of the changes in the Arctic, and ways of integrating scientific knowledge into managing the changes.