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Sikumiut – People of the Ice

Sanikiluaq, Nunavut

Credit: Arctic Eider Society, photos by Johnny Kudluarok, Mick Appaqaq, Johnassie Ippak and Joel Heath. RADARSAT Constellation Mission imagery © Government of Canada (). RADARSAT is an official mark of the CSA

This piece melds the perspectives of Taqqiit, the Moon, and the goddess of the sea who is known to have many names, such as Nuliajuk, or Sedna. Both of these views from space and from the ground have been used as tools for travel safety, land stewardship and spirituality for centuries by Inuit across the Circumpolar North.

At the centre of this work is Canada's RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM) satellite product from , offering a view of Sanikiluaq, one of these Inuit communities found nestled at the north end of the Belcher Islands. Sanikiluaq is home to 900 people, most of whom travel extensively on ice that is held fast to the land for much of the year. Surrounding the satellite image are photos of ice and animals taken on hunting trips including a view of the sinaaq (ice floe edge), allu (a seal breathing hole), siqummaq (a crack beginning at the ice floe edge), nanuq tumiit (polar bear tracks), ice fishing for iqaluppik (Arctic char), and ice being harvested for drinking water. These views breathe life into the landscape offered by the distant RCM image, as they are seen, intimately, by the living eyes on the ice. From the inky depths of the Arctic Ocean exposed by ice cracks and floe edges, Sedna rises into the frame.

Lastly, our faces turn back towards space, where Aqsarniit (aurora borealis) bathes the Earth with colours only half as bright as the souls of our ancestors who play amongst the greens, reds, and purples.

This celebration of satellite imagery in Nunavut was created with Jamesie Itulu from Mittimatalik in collaboration with the Arctic Eider Society (AES) based in Sanikiluaq. AES works with communities across Inuit Nunangat and Hudson Bay to build capacity and self-determination across three main pillars: Indigenous stewardship, education and outreach, and community-driven research. SIKU, the Indigenous Knowledge Social Network website and mobile app produced by AES, provides a platform for Inuit to post observations about features like ice and animals. In this way, SIKU supports knowledge mobilization through Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit and cutting-edge technologies like satellite imagery.

As in SIKU, this imagery shows the location of Sanikiluaq (marked by a blue dot) as well as the locations of the six ice and wildlife observations. You can learn more on the SIKU website.

The photographs were captured by Johnny Kudluarok, Mick Appaqaq, Johnassie Ippak, and Joel Heath from Sanikiluaq, and are available in greater detail on the SIKU platform.

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