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Our Ice Is Vanishing / Sikuvut Nunguliqtuq: A History of Inuit, Newcomers,…

by Shelley Wright

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Excellent introduction to the challenges the Inuit of Nunavut are facing in our modern world. ( )
  bness2 | May 23, 2017 |
The end of ice

Our Ice Is Vanishing/Sikuvut Nunguliqtuq: A History of Inuit, Newcomers, and Climate Change by Shelley Wright (McGill-Queen’s University Press, $39.95/$16.17 ebook).

The timing couldn’t be better—or perhaps worse—for Shelley Wright’s incredible book about the reality of climate change and its relationship to the lives of all the species who live in the north, including people.

Just this week, we had news that walruses were coming ashore in record numbers at a time when they should be resting and mating on sea ice because there simply isn’t enough sea ice to be found. That news came on the heels of another report that found that 50% of the world’s wildlife has disappeared in the last four decades.

Things are bad, and they won’t get better for a very, very long time.

What Wright has done in Our Ice Is Vanishing/Sikuvut Nunguliqtuq is take a look at not only climate change, but also the land and water rights that belong to the Canadian Inuit, the indigenous people of one of the geographic areas being most heavily impacted by climate change (the other being Pacific Islanders). The Canadian Arctic has been the Inuit’s home for many centuries, and Wright makes clear that any claims to the Arctic made by the nation of Canada rest solidly on the Inuit presence there.

While most reporting about the north has focused on the polar bear—that photogenic, charismatic furball—Wright’s focus is instead on the Inuit, who have build a culture that is so flexible it allows them to adapt to changes in their climate over long periods of time.

It is their way of living that forms the basis of Our Ice Is Vanishing. But these resourceful people have never had to deal with the sort of rapid decline in ice—and the ever-longer periods of ice-free water—that recent years have had. Summer ice lasts far less long (as the walruses have found) and it creates new and deadly dangers for the people who make their living on it. The last time the Arctic lost its summer ice, it took place over a millennia, giving the species there plenty of time to adapt and migrate. This time, it’s happening suddenly.

Wright covers the science of Northern ice—including its crucial place in setting the climate for the rest of the planet—in a clear and straightforward manner. At heart, though, this is a history and a story of the Inuit; how they lived traditionally and what’s happening to them now.

With a nuanced and deep understanding, Wright addresses the issues that surround the Arctic today: the national aspirations of those countries that want control of Arctic resources, the needs of the Inuit, and the reality of the damage being done—and that cannot be undone—to all the species that live in the far North. She includes amazing photographs, which makes her narrative more accessible for those of us who’ve never been much above the 49th parallel.

This is a remarkable book. It provides sound historical and cultural context—as well as eye-witness reporting—for discussion of climate change, and will be of interest to anyone who cares about the future of the planet—all of it, not just us and our cars.

Reviewed on Lit/Rant: www.litrant.tumblr.com ( )
  KelMunger | Oct 2, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0773544623, Hardcover)

The Arctic is ruled by ice. For Inuit, it is a highway, a hunting ground, and the platform on which life is lived. While the international community argues about sovereignty, security, and resource development at the top of the world, the Inuit remind us that they are the original inhabitants of this magnificent place - and that it is undergoing a dangerous transformation. The Arctic ice is melting at an alarming rate and Inuit have become the direct witnesses and messengers of climate change. Through an examination of Inuit history and culture, alongside the experiences of newcomers to the Arctic seeking land, wealth, adventure, and power, Our Ice Is Vanishing describes the legacies of exploration, intervention, and resilience. Combining scientific and legal information with political and individual perspectives, Shelley Wright follows the history of the Canadian presence in the Arctic and shares her own journey in recollections and photographs, presenting the far North as few people have seen it. Climate change is redrawing the boundaries of what Inuit and non-Inuit have learned to expect from our world. Our Ice Is Vanishing demonstrates that we must engage with the knowledge of the Inuit in order to understand and negotiate issues of climate change and sovereignty claims in the region.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:13 -0400)

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