Inuit Research Advisors

Current Projects (2015-2018)

IRIS 3 Information (Hudson Bay)

The Greater Hudson Bay Marine Region (Hudson Bay, James Bay, Foxe Basin, Hudson Strait and Ungava Bay) occupies an area of 1.3 million km2. For scale, this vast area is equivalent to nearly a fourth of the surface area of Canada’s oceans together with the Great Lakes, or just over one-eighth of Canada’s land mass. The Marine Region has a nearly complete sea ice cover between November and June and becomes ice-free each summer. A massive amount of freshwater enters the Marine Region from its large watershed, which covers a third of the Canadian landmass. Because of the large spatial extent of the Marine Region, the ecosystems and food webs are broad and varied, with both year-round presence and seasonal abundances of fish, birds, and marine mammals.

Although scientific study of the Hudson Bay Marine Region 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 development catalyzing rapid changes in the environments and society of northern regions, such as the Hudson Bay Marine Region, 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 Marine Region has been written to summarize the current knowledge available for the coastal and marine environment. 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

This IRIS aims to address the knowledge gaps for the Greater Hudson Bay Marine Region and to strengthen evidence-based decision making by broadening and integrating knowledge bases. The Regional Impact Assessment consists of two parts: a large report of science based knowledge, and a synthesis of this knowledge along with resultant policy-related recommendations.

There is an inter-relationship among the community priorities and the three knowledge areas addressed in the chapters of this IRIS: the Physical Environment; Ecosystems, Fish and Wildlife; and Industrialization and Development.

The Hudson Bay IRIS has been organized based on these themes with the following chapters:

I) For Inuit and Cree, These Waters Are Home: An Introduction to the Greater Hudson Bay Marine Region and its Peoples

II) The Physical Environment
        i. Ocean and Freshwater Marine Interactions
        ii. Atmosphere
        iii. Sea Ice
        iv. Model Projections
        vi. The Hudson Bay Watershed

III) Ecosystems, Fish and Wildlife
        i. Nutrients and Biological Productivity
        ii. Fish and Fisheries
        iii. Seabirds
        iv. Marine Mammals
        vi. Polar Bears

IV) Industrialization and Development
        i. Protected Areas
        ii. Contaminants
        iii. Transportation and Shipping
        iv. Tourism

V) Future Perspectives of Research in the Greater Hudson Bay Marine Region

The best way to understand the Hudson Bay IRIS report is not as an end, but as a substantial step in the continual process of bringing together knowledge to inform decision-making. It follows other significant efforts to do so for the region, such as McDonald et al. (1997) report, Voices from the Bay. Much of the content of this report is retrospective. However, just as important as what we do know and are able to report, is what we do not. Findings presented in the document create a picture of what is happening in the Marine Region, and will likely happen in the future. Just as or even more importantly, embedded in the chapters is also a roadmap of questions that need to be addressed next to deepen our understanding of changes in the Greater Hudson Bay Marine Region, what they mean for the populations that depend on these waters, and what actions are needed to support the Marine Region’s long-term health and its sustainable use.

Hudson Bay IRIS Steering Committee

The Hudson Bay IRIS is co-led by Dr. Zou Zou Kuzyk, and Dr. David Barber with support from Lauren Candlish (coordinator), Michelle Kamula (assistant coordinator) and a small team of personnel. 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:

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

The Hudson Bay IRIS Steering Committee meets annually at the ArcticNet Annual Scientific Meetings (December 2014, December 2015, December 2016, December 2017). 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 creating 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, Winnipeg Manitoba (April 12-13, 2018), the Hudson Bay Summit, Montreal, Quebec (February 27 – March 1, 2018) 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).

Communities of the Hudson Bay Complex

The Greater Hudson Bay Marine Region —comprising Hudson Bay, James Bay, Foxe Basin, Hudson Strait and Ungava Bay—occupies an area of 1.3 million km2. The significance of environmental change in the Greater Hudson Bay Marine Region is undoubtedly most profound for Inuit and Cree, who have depended on these waters and icescapes for their food, culture and identity, mobility, and livelihoods for millennia. Currently, forty communities are located on or near the shores of the Marine Region of these, 25 are Inuit communities (11 in Nunavut; 14 in Nunavik, Québec), 13 are Cree First Nations (five in Eeyou Istchee, Québec; two in Manitoba; six in Ontario), and two are municipalities with significant Indigenous populations (Churchill, Manitoba and Moosonee, Ontario).

Hudson Bay IRIS Contact Information

For more information about the Hudson Bay IRIS please contact Lauren Candlish ().