This research compares the Inuit communities of Ulukhaktok and Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories (NWT), in the western Canadian Arctic according to the analytical framework of the pan-Arctic IPY project Community Adaptation and Vulnerability in Arctic Regions (CAVIAR). The comparison highlights examples of similarities and differences in exposures and adaptations related to subsistence harvesting and community infrastructure. Subsistence hunting, fishing and trapping on the land and sea ice continue to be valued activities for Inuit in Ulukhaktok and Tuktoyaktuk. In both communities, however, changes in seasonal patterns, sea ice, and weather variability have affected the health and availability of some important wildlife species and have exacerbated risks associated with hunting and travel. Adaptive capacity in both communities is conditioned by access to capital resources, sharing networks, species availability, and environmental knowledge and skills. A prominent difference in the capacity of these communities to deal with climate exposures is the greater diversity of Tuktoyaktuk’s economy and access to capital resources. These capital resources provide some Tuktoyaktuk residents with flexibility in harvesting techniques and alternative diet (i.e. store-bought foods) during times of harvesting shortages. Comparatively, Ulukhaktok has fewer economic opportunities at present and residents rely heavily on subsistence. Infrastructure in Tuktoyaktuk is highly susceptible to damage due to degradation of permafrost and coastal erosion. The shorelines of the community are prone to erosion, particularly during strong storm events that have damaged buildings and roads in the past. Shoreline protection measures, which were initiated in the 1970s, have slowed rates of erosion in recent years. Ulukhaktok has been assessed for potential risks to community infrastructure but currently does not face any immediate threats because it is situated on stable land with low ice concentrations in the permafrost. This comparison provides insight into the localized nature of vulnerabilities, policies to support adaptation, and the importance of research that engages communities.
International Polar Year - Oslo Science Conference (IPY-OSC), Oslo, Canada 8-12 June 2010