The Big but Not Empty Land: Ecological footprints of fishing practices near the Inuit Community of Makkovik (Nunatsiavut,Canada)

Date and Time: 
Thursday, 17 March, 2016 - 09:00
, Erica - Carleton University/PhD candidate
, Todd - Inuit Community of Makkovik
, Carol - Nunatsiavut Government/Community Liaison Officer, Makkovik
, Jeremy - Saint Mary's University/Department of Biology
, Gita - Carleton University/Department of Geography and Environmental Studies

Historically, life in Labrador—affectionately known as “The Big Land”—had strong ties to maritime areas. The coastline has been home and thoroughfare for Indigenous peoples, and later for other nationalities seeking whales and codfish. Today, all five communities in Nunatsiavut, the Inuit Land Claims Area in Labrador, are located on the Labrador Sea, where communal and commercial fisheries remain locally vital. We looked at present-day plant communities and soils of historical fishing places to see if fishing practices of Makkovimiut (residents of Makkovik) and visiting fishing crews left different ecological footprints. Although we found site-level distinctions, particularly in soil metals, a clearer narrative emerged through plants and soils of individual built environments. This historical urban ecology of the north speaks not only to different footprints of local and visiting fishing crews; with the insight of Makkovimiut, it also tells the often hidden local stories of a peopled northern landscape.