Youth in the Kivalliq know about caribou management, and are proud to share that knowledge.
Thirty-seven students responded to the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board’s poster and essay contest. Entries were to deal with one of three themes: respectful caribou harvest, the importance of harvest reporting, or cumulative effects.
William Campbell, a Grade 10 student at John Arnalujuak High School in Arviat, explained in detail what cumulative effects are by using a boat as a metaphor – for example, an overloaded boat will sink.
“We need to develop a common voice and tell our leaders to slow down development as the non-renewable resources are not going anywhere, but our caribou could if we do not protect their home. Stop overloading our wildlife with negative stress,” concluded Campbell.
“If we do that, the caribou and the wildlife will be here for our children and their children’s children. We need to stop being greedy and start looking to the future. The reward will be caribou for everyone, forever.”
For his words of wisdom, the 13 board members awarded Campbell first place, and an iPad.
Other prizes on offer were Beats earphones and gift certificates for iTunes. The board’s executive director Ross Thompson laughs at his own innocence.
“You get old-school me who figured we’ll get them bikes and fishing rods and that kind of thing, but in this day and age, it’s Apple products,” said Thompson.
“So electronic incentives … But we consult pretty closely with community folks and that’s what they thought would really have a following.”
The state of the herds, though, are no laughing matter – even though Beverly and Qamanirjuaq are some of the healthiest remaining.
“Both herds have declined significantly since 1994 when the last large numbers were reported. The Qamanirjuaq herd was up in the 450,000 range. We think now that it’s – we’re hoping – that it’s only declined to over 200,000. We’re waiting for the results of the calving ground survey this past summer,” said Thompson, adding the Qamanirjuaq herd is the last largest remaining mainland herd.
Meanwhile, the Beverly herd, which has changed the location of its traditional calving ground to the Northern Coast, used to be in the 300,000 range.
“Now, we figure it’s gone down to about half of that or smaller,” said Thompson.
But both remain large as compared to the declines of other herds, such as the Bathurst herd.
“Beverly and Qamanirjuaq are a huge deal for Inuit,” wrote Grade 12 student Lindsay Aksawnee of Baker Lake, who won third place in the essay category for students in Grades 10 to 12.
Dad Richard Aksawnee happens to be a member of the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board.
“I never even knew that she submitted an essay for the contest, ’til the judging of the contest was complete by the BQCMB board,” he said.
Names of young authors and artists were on the back of the entries.
All the more reason he was as excited to present the prizes as Lindsey and second place winner Aulajuq Iqqaat were to receive them at school Nov. 20.
“The children are very knowledgeable about caribou in Baker Lake,” said Aksawnee.
The board hopes to be initiating the contest for Manitoba and Saskatchewan students soon, and they also hope to repeat the experience in Nunavut next year.
Thompson says involving youth, which involves parents, is an excellent way to spread the right information about the caribou-herd management. It’s also more hands-on than their previous effort, which included creating a video, posters and fact sheets.
“And, you know, the youth are the leaders of tomorrow. Hopefully, next year, we’ll get bigger and better and get more youth involved, get them to start asking the questions and designing the priorities to keep these herds sustainable,” said Thompson.
In Nunavut, the contest was possible thanks to funding from the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board’s Nunavut Wildlife Studies Fund.
Poster and essay contest winners
Grades 7 to 9:
First place: Essay: Respecting Caribou by Johnathan Campbell, Grade 7, Qitiqliq Middle School, Arviat
Second place: Poster: Keep our Caribou Populations Sustainable by Cayla Kablutsiak, Grade 8, Qitiqliq Middle School, Arviat
Third place: Essay: Respectful Caribou Hunting by Irena Komak, Grade 7, Qitiqliq Middle School, Arviat
Grades 10 to 12:
First place: Essay: Cumulative Effects by William Campbell, Grade 10, John Arnalukuik High School, Arviat
Second place: Poster: Landscape/Climate/Habitat Change by Aulajuq (Raymond) Iqqaat, Grade 10, Jonah Amitnaaq Secondary School, Baker Lake
Third place: Essay: Lindsay Aksawnee, Grade 12, Jonah Amitnaaq Secondary School, Baker Lake
Essay: Respectful Caribou Hunting by Kenia Pike, Inuglak School, Whale Cove
Poster: Caribou Uses by Garreth Anoee, Qitiqliq Middle school, Arviat
Poster: Caribou Uses by Reanne Gibbons, Qitiqliq Middle School, Arviat