Nordic adventure in Aklavik

Note: This blog post was written by Marie-Michèle Ouellet-Bernier and Jade Falardeau

Aklavik is located in the Mackenzie Delta, 2° North of the Arctic Circle. This community, of about 600 people, is part of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. To get there, we need to reach the town of Inuvik, a necessary stop along the Dempster Highway between Whitehorse and the Arctic Ocean. According to seasons, the next step is to sail on the river, or as we did, to travel on the ice road on the frozen winding Mackenzie River. Jade already knows well some characteristic of the area as it is her 3rd trip here. She takes those opportunities to meet and learn from local hunters and trappers of the Beaufort Sea coast; her study area.

Our stay in Aklavik starts Monday, March 9th, and we are welcomed by freezing temperatures, between -26°C to -40°C when considering wind chill. A short walk of 10 minutes, facing the wind, is enough for Marie-Michèle to get frostbites on the cheeks. The aim of our Nordic adventure is to offer a participative workshop on the climate of the past to the community. A Geotop Transfer program grant supports this ongoing project. During the workshop, 5 activities are presented: observations of tree-rings, sediment core, microfossils (see photo!) and written archives, and open discussion on the past climate perceptions and recent climate changes. Our experience in Aklavik is the first step of a larger scientific communication project which eventually aims to create an educational kit. This will help researchers initiate knowledge mobilization during their fieldwork, on land or at sea.

Aside from the workshop, our Nordic experience goes far beyond. We will always remember our meeting with an elder woman from Sach’s Harbour who knit and spin muskox wool, the IRC Native Hockey championship, the cheese bannock, Esther, the inn manager who makes us feel part of the family as soon as we step in, or simply nature appreciation: late sunrises, foxes, moose and Northern lights… and much more!

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