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Title:  Inuinnaqtun Structures for a Thawing Arctic: Inuinnaqtun tiliugait auktuqpalliajut ukiuqtaqtumi

Action:This project produced drawings, models, and full-size reconstructions of shelters that were traditionally built during various seasons in the Inuinnaqtun speaking communities. First, workshops on tradition-based shelters were held with knowledge-holders and young people. Then, reconstructions were undertaken out on the land, with an Inuit knowledge-holder leading each event. Young people, including school and college students, were also invited to participate in the full-scale reconstructions, which included three building types: the summer/ autumn tent, spring qarmaq, and winter iglu. After the reconstructions, interviews with Elders and students discussed the processes and results and considered the value of the shelters for health and safety, particularly when climate change makes conditions more uncertain.

Results: The project produced three completed full-sized structures for distinct seasons: a summer/ autumn tent, winter iglu, and spring qarmaq. The reconstructions contributed to understanding and skills at shelter-building, for those who could attend the workshops and for others who view the shelter-building workshops in the videos, read about them, and/ or attend model-making educational sessions about the structures. Overall, the workshops and reconstructions were designed to share and adapt traditional architectural knowledge for active, continued use – even as climates and landscapes change. A number of tradition-based skills were re-introduced to people in communities where the skills are becoming increasingly rare. The project brought together community expertise and shared knowledge about traditional structures, particularly summer tents, iglu building, and how to make a warm and soft willow mat as bedding. Inuit and non-Inuit participants said that this knowledge will make a difference in their ability to be safe while out on the land. The qarmaq was an aspect of traditional architectural knowledge that was not known by many of the knowledge-holders involved in this research. Strategies for ventilation are also important components of the traditional knowledge, since asphyxiation due to inadequately ventilated fires or stoves is a serious health risk for people sleeping in emergency shelters. Clean air strategies are an important part of the architectural documentation accomplished in this project.

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This short film shows the reconstruction of an iglu and qarmaq, for the purpose of understanding the ongoing importance of traditional dwellings for the health and safety of northern peoples. Mark Hadlari videography, Attima Hadlari master builder, Tanya Tagaq music used with permission.

This video shows the construction of a typical summer dwelling that would originally have been made from rocks, sinew, driftwood and skins is reimagined using 2X2's, a tarp, braided sinew for tying, willow mats for bedding, and large flat rocks for securing the structure. Videographer Mark Haldari, music by Tanya Tagaq used with permission. 

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