"Our entire North American Arctic homeland is a vast wildlife habitat nourishing a very fragile food chain in which we Inuit are but an important link. We Inuit are hunters. There aren't many subsistence hunting societies left in the world, but our Inuit circumpolar community is one of them."
Eben Hopson, 1978 Address to the London Press Corps
The Arctic is our Nunaat--our homeland. Nuna is land; Nunaat is homeland. As Inuit, we are intimately connected to the past, both distant and more recent. Why are we so closely tied to the Arctic marine ecosystem? We depend on it for our identity as indigenous peoples of the Arctic, for food security, for our transportation needs and mobility--for our future.
We are 165,000 people living in Canada, Greenland, the Russian Federation, and in the State of Alaska in the United States of America. Inuit are one people divided by what we consider to be artificial boundaries created by the old European colonial system. The Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) is a Permanent Participant in the Arctic Council and holds Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. ICC acts as a representative voice, speaking on behalf of all circumpolar Inuit on matters of international importance.
As we prepare for World Oceans Day on 8 June 2017, during which we will celebrate "Our Oceans, Our Future" and discuss how we can all support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 to "conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources", Inuit will be watching. In particular, we will be watching because our ocean and sea ice is changing right before our eyes. The sea ice is melting, the glaciers are melting, the permafrost is melting, the shorelines are eroding, the animals are changing and the ocean is changing. In addition to having to monitor these environmental changes with added sensitivity, Inuit are concerned that more and more people are coming north in search of non-renewable resources, such as oil, gas and minerals, as well as commercial fisheries and shorter, faster shipping routes. Tourists are coming to see it before it is gone. Many scientists are keenly interested in the changes and the effects of climate change in the Arctic and how they will impact the fate of the world's oceans and global weather patterns.
We are willing to share our indigenous knowledge of the ocean, the ice, the animals and the weather so we can work with the scientists, understand the change...