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The Nanuk Knowledge & Dialogue Project

In the context of Arctic wildlife management, the Davis Strait Polar Bear Subpopulation is a strong example of the complexities that come with the stewardship of a transboundary and culturally-important species. For example, Inuit in Nunavut, Nunavik, and Nunatsiavut all rely on and have jurisdictional rights to this subpopulation, yet these regions rarely have the opportunity to come together to share knowledge, research, and strategies to support Inuit and polar bears in the region. 

Within this context, a unique co-management-led partnership was formed in 2022 among the Torngat Wildlife & Plants Co-Management Board, the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, and the Nunavik Marine Region Wildlife Board, called the Nanuk Knowledge and Dialogue Project. This project aimed to enhance polar bear management and provide a high level of coordination and shared knowledge between the three regions, while at the same time respecting the sovereignty of Inuit in each region to utilize their respective management systems that have been negotiated through modern day land claim agreements. By carrying out three distinct project objectives, and in particular discussions with an Interdisciplinary Working Group, this project laid the foundation of cross-cultural thinking and teamwork that allowed the Nanuk Narratives project to emerge. 


Project Objectives

Interdisciplinary Dialogue

We have organized an Interdisciplinary Working Group that brings together people from different worldviews, regions, and disciplines.

Knowledge Synthesis

We have reviewed, analyzed, and synthesized all documented Inuit Knowledge related to the Davis Strait Polar Bear Subpopulation.


We have developed plain language communication materials about polar bears to share with communities and other audiences. 

Interdisciplinary Working Group

Interdisciplinary Working Group

Thinking across cultures and disciplines

As part of the larger Nanuk Knowledge and Dialogue Project, an independent Interdisciplinary Working Group has been organized to think about new and innovative ways of managing the Davis Strait Polar Bear Subpopulation, and to make recommendations to the three wildlife co-management boards in the Eastern Arctic. The core focus of this working group is to explore how collective Inuit Knowledge can be more accessible, influential, and implemented for sustainable Inuit harvesting of polar bears. This working group includes members from diverse backgrounds and experiences, including Inuit Knowledge, wildlife biology, social sciences, public health, law and co-management policy, and various other perspectives. For the Nanuk Narratives project, this working group has acted as an advisory team, guiding messaging and identifying areas for greatest impact.

Diverse Team

Our Process

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Since winter 2022, the Interdisciplinary Working Group has been meeting online over zoom calls to discuss the management of Davis Strait polar bears. We've heard from a variety of different groups and organizations about what they see as the current challenges relating to the Davis Strait polar bear subpopulation, including the Davis Strait 2017-18 Survey team, the Polar Bear Advisory Committee and Polar Bear Technical Committee, the Nunatsiavut Government, Makkivik Corporation, and the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board.

The working group aimed to hone in on a strategic focus based on previous discussions and reflections from guest speakers. Participatory activities were used to collectively discuss and brainstorm the various challenges, including issues around a lack of coordination across different Inuit regions, Inuit community voices and knowledge are not recognized and used at all levels, and Inuit still being forced to work within colonial systems that complicate jurisdictional relationships and limit self-determination.


Working group members came together in person for the first time at the ArcticNet Annual Scientific Meeting in Toronto in the fall of 2022, where we collectively decided what the strategic focus would be for this working group, and brainstormed specific outputs that could contribute to addressing the strategic focus. 

Strategic Focus for this Working Group:

Collective Inuit Knowledge needs to be accessible, influential, and implemented for sustainable Inuit relationships with Nanuk.  

To support this focus, an emerging priority from this working group has been to co-produce videos that present Inuit Knowledge and experiences with polar bears in accessible and culturally appropriate ways. The first Letter of Recommendation to the wildlife co-management boards was to explore the use of documentary film and visual media for sharing Inuit voices - leading to the Nanuk Narratives project!

In March 2023, we sent a Letter of Recommendation to each of the co-management boards, where we suggested to explore the use of documentary film and visual media as a tool for sharing Inuit voices about polar bears. In this letter we outlined how visual media can directly contribute to educational and outreach objectives within each of the regions, and has potential to become a major source of information related to polar bear conservation for educators, researchers, governments, and public audiences around the world. 

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Since March 2023, the group has continued to meet to collectively brainstorm ideas for the Nanuk Narratives video series. As videos were produced, the working group would watch, reflect, and provide input on the messaging of the videos, potential target audiences, and end goals for the initiative. It is through these in-depth discussions that many initial storylines were conceptualized. 


Knowledge Synthesis

The Nanuk Knowledge and Dialogue Project worked with the Polynya Consulting Group to undertake a review, analysis, and synthesis of documented Inuit knowledge related to the Davis Strait polar bear subpopulation. Inuit have vast past, current, and future-looking knowledge about polar bears. Inuit organizations, territorial, regional, and federal governments, wildlife management boards, and researchers have gathered Inuit knowledge for the Davis Strait polar bear subpopulation through qualitative studies since the land use and occupancy studies in the 1970s. Significant efforts have been made in recent years to document this knowledge to strengthen its use in wildlife management decision-making. While these reports are significant recent sources of information, Inuit knowledge of Davis Strait polar bears has also been documented in other sources. This report provides the first review and synthesis of Inuit knowledge of Davis Strait polar bears across Inuit regions.

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We created a series of infographics and posters that effectively blend scientific insights and Inuit Knowledge about polar bear management. These materials aim to resonate across communities and with diverse audiences, ensuring accessibility, cultural relevance, and educational value.

Infographics about Davis Strait Survey's and Methods

Graphic Illustrations about Interdisciplinary Working Group Discussions

Poster about Inuit Knowledge Synthesis

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