Inuit org gets money for Lancaster Sound protection
"We agree that Inuit must retain a leadership role in the protection of this marine region"
On an afternoon walk through Rotary Park on Sept. 20, elder Alacie Joamie showed Prince Albert II of Monaco the kinds of vegetation you can find there, such as plants traditionally used for tea, an alternative to tobacco, and medicine.
During Prince Albert’s visit to Iqaluit, which also included a city tour and a stop at the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit museum, Prince Albert, who heads an environment foundation, said the Qikiqtani Inuit Association will receive money to support two new projects on the future of the Lancaster Sound.
Last March, the QIA released its report, Tallurutiup Tariunga Inulik: Inuit Participation in Determining the Future of Lancaster Sound, on the need for Inuit involvement in deciding how Lancaster Sound, known as Tallurutiup Tariunga in Inuktitut, should be protected.
The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, along with the Pew Environmental Group’s Oceans North Canada, now plans to support two projects with QIA on how the Lancaster Sound can be protected.
The QIA did not say how much money the foundation will contribute to the projects, which will also receive support from the Pew Environment Group’s Oceans North Canada campaign.
Prince Albert said in a Sept. 19 news release from the QIA he understands the “importance of the long term viability of marine resources to Inuit and we agree that Inuit must retain a leadership role in the protection of this marine region.”
Lancaster Sound, home to thousands of species including seals, polar bears, walrus, beluga whales, killer whales and narwhals, serves as the eastern gateway to the Northwest Passage — both for large ships and migrating animals.
It’s considered to be strategically significant shipping area in a warming Arctic and an important traditional hunting ground.
QIA president Okalik Eegeesiak compared Lancaster Sound to the famous Tanzanian conservation area, the Serengeti, which protects hundreds of thousands of medium-to-large animals like tigers, lions and elephants.
“The Inuit have always argued for [Lancaster Sound’s] protection and we take our role in its preservation seriously,” Eegeesiak said in the news release.
The Lancaster Sound has been a hotbed of debate since 2009 when, the federal government said it wanted to declare the northern waters a National Marine Conservation Area.
Inuit and environmental groups questioned controversial plans by the Geological Survey of Canada in 2010 to conduct seismic testing in the area — the kind of seabed survey that may pose risk to marine mammals and can be the first step to oil exploration.
After the government contracted a German ship to conduct the survey, the QIA slapped the federal government with a court injunction, halting the survey in the summer of 2010.
Then, in an apparent about-face in December 2010, Ottawa made an announcement that scrapped plans for further seismic surveys and laid out generous boundaries for the proposed conservation zone.
The first project supported by Prince Albert’s foundation to advanced work on protecting Lancaster Sound: a workshop in the Lancaster Sound region to look at co-management models for marine protected areas in the Arctic.
This will look at how to incorporate Inuit Qaujumajatuqangit into a mapping system.
The second project will bring together policy makers and political leaders involved in creating marine protected areas, a QIA news release said.
The projects are intended to “showcase ocean protection strategies that retain leading roles for Inuit.”
Prince Albert’s foundation lists the polar regions as priority areas and as “privileged indicators of climate change evolutions.”
Prince Albert created his foundation in 2006 to address the planet’s “alarming environmental situation.” The foundation supports public and private organizations, research and studies, technological innovation and socially aware practices according to the foundation’s website.
On Sept. 21, Prince Albert visits Kuujjuaq where he will stop at the Nunavik Research Centre. He’ll also meet with leaders and attend a private dinner offered by Makivik Corp. and Kativik Regional Government before heading off to Radisson.
In his efforts to promote the marine environment and protect of the Arctic, he has also visited northern Norway and traveled to the North Pole.
Prince Albert, 54, whose full name is Albert Alexandre Louis Pierre Grimaldi, is the head of the House of Grimaldi and the ruler of the Principality of Monaco, located south of France on the Mediterranean coast.
The Prince has been in the spotlight since birth to the late Grace Kelly, a famous American actor who starred in classic films like Dial M for Murder, High Noon, and Rear Window.