Inuvialuit Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) of Beluga Whale (Delphinaterus leucas) in a Changing Climate in Tuktoyaktuk, NT

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Waugh, Devin
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University of Guelph

Beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) are an important food source for Inuvialuit, Indigenous peoples of the western Canadian Arctic. This thesis documents Inuvialuit TEK about the ecology and behaviour of the beluga whale, hunting techniques, food preparation and values, in the context of changing climatic conditions in Tuktoyaktuk, NT. Data were collected using semi-directed interviews with 17 Inuvialuit beluga harvesters and participant observation, and thematic analysis methods were used to code data. The research found that Inuvialuit harvesters possess detailed rational knowledge of beluga, particularly regarding hunting techniques and food preparation, and are guided by a moral code about how to behave with respect to beluga. Inuvialuit are observing rapid changes in the environment, some with implications for beluga hunting and food preparation but are coping thus far. This research contributes to addressing gaps in the literature on Inuvialuit perspectives on beluga, particularly in the context of rapid climatic change.

climate change, TEK, Indigenous, co-management, arctic