Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) Catherine McKenna announced the opening of a new research facility while in Pond Inlet to celebrate the final boundaries of the Tallurutiup Imanga (Lancaster Sound) national marine conservation area.
“Science is the foundation of maintaining healthy biodiversity in Canada, and I am thrilled that our scientists have a facility to carry out their research. The facility will strengthen Canada’s role in supporting Arctic Council initiatives while helping to address the impacts of climate change on the Arctic,” stated McKenna in a news release.
In 2010, Cambridge Bay beat out Pond Inlet and Resolute when it was awarded the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS). The Pond Inlet facility is smaller in size, scope and diversity of programs.
“Since the Pond Inlet Research Station is small and can only house up to eight people at any one time, we plan to hire one ECCC employee under the Inuit Employment Plan to be based in Pond Inlet,” stated spokesperson Mark Johnson in an e-mail to Nunavut News/North.
“In addition there will be several seasonal and part-time positions to support field programs and to manage the facility. These positions will not only provide employment but also training and educational opportunities for local Inuit as well as the opportunity for knowledge exchange between local experts and government researchers.”
Several community members were involved in the construction of the facility, according to the news release.
The 2100 square-foot building has a wet lab, a dry lab, a meeting space and living quarters for eight people. Construction of the $1.95 million project, which includes initial operational costs, is scheduled to be completed by the end of August, and is intended to support field-based programs on wildlife and ecosystem health in the area around Pond Inlet, including Eclipse Sound and the new Tallurutiup Imanga marine conservation area.
Planning for the facility began in 2015, is part of the Federal Arctic Infrastructure Program, and joins a network of Arctic research infrastructure.
“(ECCC) maintains 7 field sites (field cabins in remote Arctic locations) where research is conducted in support of the federal government’s wildlife conservation mandate. More specifically, these field stations are used to implement wildlife research and monitoring programs on migratory birds, species at risk, and polar bears. One field site is located in the Western Arctic while the other six are located in the Eastern Arctic,” said Johnson.
Over the next three years, research in Pond Inlet will include: acoustic monitoring in Eclipse Sound, air quality monitoring, polar bear foraging ecology in relation to changing sea ice conditions, a community-based project for ringed seal harvest monitoring also related to changing ice conditions, the community-based SmartICE program, and seabird monitoring at Cape Graham Moore (Bylot Island).
“The Pond Inlet research facility will address research questions of interest across the Arctic, including CHARS, related to the impacts of climate change and shipping in the Canadian Arctic,” said Johnson.
“The Pond Inlet research station was designed to provide support for community-based research programs, e.g. SmartICE, that allow government scientists, academics and Inuit to work together to conserve the Arctic marine environment and its resources that are essential to the Inuit way of life.”
The area encompassing Pond Inlet, Eclipse Sound and Tallurutiup Imanga is recognized internationally as one of the most important ecosystems in the world.