Inuit Research Advisors

Projets en cours (2015-2018)

IRIS 3 Information (Hudson Bay)

The Hudson Bay Complex consists of four closely-related marine regions in the Canadian Arctic: Hudson Bay, James Bay, Foxe Basin, and Hudson Strait. The Complex is the largest inland sea in the world, covering an area of roughly 1,240,000 km2. The Complex receives Arctic marine water from Foxe Basin and freshwater runoff from a massive catchment basin that extends over a large portion of North America. Because of the large spatial extent of the Complex, the ecosystem and food webs are broad and varied; Arctic and Subarctic species use the area year-round and migratory fishes, marine mammals and birds are seasonally abundant. In terms of human occupancy, the Hudson Bay Complex has been a meeting ground for First Nations and Inuit for approximately 4000 years. The Complex also occupies a significant place in the history of European exploration, beginning with the ill-fated voyage of Henry Hudson. Later, the major rivers provided settlers with access to the interior of North America. Many of these river systems are now used for hydroelectric activity, while stretches of the Complex are used as sea routes for the movement of grain and minerals from the Canadian interior to the global economy.

Although scientific study of the Hudson Bay Complex has occurred sporadically for roughly two centuries and in a more concerted fashion over the last two decades, the products of this research have not been widely read. This is likely because the research products are often inaccessible for a broader audience, either because the research is written in highly-technical language or because the research is published in forums that are expensive or unfamiliar for non-scientists.

With climate change, industrialization, and modernization catalyzing rapid changes in the environments and society of northern regions, such as the Hudson Bay Complex, it is important that the scientific community is able to communicate effectively with those affected by the changes in the North.

“…Give us the results of those studies, and let us understand too.”

-John Kaunak, Repulse Bay (Voices from the Bay, Page 68)

“All the studies are very specialized in studying the effects of development on certain physical things in the environment. There is really no complete picture of what it does to our people, the community, animals, and the whole environment.”

-Helen Atkinson, Chisasibi (Voices from the Bay, Page 49)

This ArcticNet Integrated Regional Impact Study (IRIS) for the Hudson Bay Complex has been written to summarize the current knowledge available for the coastal and marine environment of the Complex. This IRIS report incorporates results from scientific studies, traditional knowledge compiled in ‘Voices from the Bay’ (McDonald et al., 1997), the perspectives of Inuit and Cree represented through the IRIS steering committee and input from a variety of stakeholders who contributed to the editorial team. The goal of this document is to provide relevant and practical information for regional decision-makers in an accessible format.

Chapters in the Hudson Bay Regional Impact Assessment (DRAFT December 2016)

The Regional Impact Assessment consists of two parts: a large volume of science based knowledge, and a synthesis of this knowledge along with resultant policy-related recommendations. The knowledge report is divided into twelve topic-defined chapters:

  1. The Hudson Bay Complex: Background and Overview
  2. Climate Change and Future Projections
  3. The Hudson Bay Watershed and Freshwater System
  4. The Marine and Coastal Systems
  5. Nutrients, Primary Production and the Lower Trophic Levels of the Food Web
  6. Marine Mammals, Seabirds and Polar Bears
  7. The Carbon Cycle and Ocean Acidification
  8. Contaminants
  9. Hydroelectric Activities
  10. Marine Transportation
  11. Ecotourism, Parks and Marine Protected Areas
  12. Summary and Conclusions

Draft outlines for the chapters are available here: HB_IRIS_Chapters.pdf

First drafts of the chapters are available here:


Hudson Bay IRIS Steering Committee

The Hudson Bay IRIS is co-led by Dr. David Barber, Dr. Zou Zou Kuzyk, with support from Lauren Candlish (coordinator), Michelle Kamula (assistant coordinator) and a small team of personnel, including Jonathan Andrews, at the University of Manitoba. The U of M team is working in a collaborative process with Mickaël Lemay, ArcticNet IRIS coordinator, and an IRIS Steering Committee to develop the IRIS document.

The current and past members of the Steering Committee include:

Joel Heath - Arctic Eider Society
Michael Barrett - Kativik Regional Government
Pitsey Moss-Davies - Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada
Eric Loring - Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK)
John Cheechoo – Wildlife, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK)
Andrew Dunford - Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI)
Alan Penn - Cree Nation Government
Lucassie Arragutainaq - Sanikiluaq Hunters & Trappers
Kendra Tagoona - Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK)
Miriam Fleming - Mushkegowuk Environmental Research Centre (MERC)
Romani Makkik -Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI)

The Hudson Bay IRIS Steering Committee meets annually at the ArcticNet Annual Scientific Meetings (December 2014, December 2015, December 2016). The committee also meets by teleconference once a month. Members of the committee are actively involved in reviewing materials developed for the IRIS document and will take a direct role in preparing the Synthesis and Recommendations.

The U of M team has also provided updates on the IRIS process and document to interested regional organizations and stakeholders, including the Hudson Bay Regional Roundtable, Churchill Manitoba (February 11-12, 2016), Manitoba Hydro Meeting, Winnipeg Manitoba (August 12, 2015), and the Eastern Hudson Bay Regional Roundtable, Chisasibi Quebec (November 7-9, 2016).

Summaries of the HB IRIS Steering Committee meetings are available below:

Communities of the Hudson Bay Complex

The Hudson Bay Complex is defined here as Hudson Bay, James Bay, Foxe Basin and Hudson Strait. The coastlines of the Complex run through regions of Nunavut, Quebec (and the region of Nunavik), Ontario, and Manitoba. There are more than 30 communities within the boundaries of this Hudson Bay Complex IRIS, and these communities are home to a total population of roughly 40,000 people.

Hudson Bay IRIS Contact Information

For more information about the Hudson Bay IRIS or to become involved in the process please contact Lauren Candlish ().