to Sources of Value
in Inuit Nunangat
Inuit skills can strengthen Northern economies.
How can we realize this opportunity?
May 13, 2021 | By Twiladawn Stonefish
Many Inuit want to find a balance between market participation and traditional land-based activities.
They want diverse jobs that strengthen their communities’ social resources—and that expand on existing cultural knowledge and traditional skill sets.
And they want to see their social and cultural values reflected in
the sectors that dominate Northern GDP.
Traditional land-based activities
A mixed economy is critical to livelihoods in Inuit Nunangat. This means both market- and traditional land-based activities are vital.
Making a living, making money
Market-based activities include work for wages or business income. This is what economists normally recognize as a person’s capital.
Traditional land-based activities create social and cultural resources that aren’t formally tied to the exchange of goods or services for money.
• provide food, clothing, and tools
• strengthen social inclusion and nurture cultural traditions and heritage languages
• strengthen the identities and self-determination of Inuit
• strengthen Inuit ties to the land
What is sustainable livelihood?
What goes into making a sustainable livelihood?
We think it’s useful to talk about the elements of sustainable livelihoods as different sources of value creation—encompassing economic, social, ecological (or natural), and cultural aspects.
A sustainable livelihood is a way of life that fulfils a person’s long-term material and socio-cultural needs. It includes skills, resources, and activities that ensure their economic self-determination and future well-being.
Sustainable livelihoods are specific to environmental, geographic, and social contexts, and incorporate a sense of identity and belonging. In other words, it’s far more than just a job.
What are strengths-
A strengths-based approach
By taking a strengths-based approach, we want to build on existing knowledge and skills to promote inclusive growth and economic opportunity across Inuit Nunangat.
A strengths-based approach helps us identify the skills, assets, and strengths that individuals and communities have. It also identifies how these link to opportunities in the market economy and emerging sectors that could better reflect Inuit values and visions of sustainable livelihoods in the North.
Sources of value
(roads, community buildings, equipment)
Family and relationships
Community and social support services
Relationships between communities
Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (traditional knowledge)
Participation in remediation/monitoring programs (knowledge benefit and transfer within community)
Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (principles and values)
Traditions and ceremonies
Ways of knowing
Past research looked at what’s missing. We’re looking at what’s being missed.
Value is more than just money or the exchange of goods through a market economy. Value rests in the connection between skills, knowledges, assets, strengths, and communities.
Northern livelihoods depend on these different sources of value for self-determination, as well as personal and community benefit. Policy-makers often overlook this, and instead heavily emphasize only economic capital and market-based opportunities.
But from a holistic perspective, we know these sources of value interact. Understanding how will give us a more complete picture of the ways sustainable livelihoods can be achieved in Inuit Nunangat.
Are goal-oriented and person-centred.
Identify inherent strengths and accessible personal, interpersonal, social, and cultural resources.
Are inclusive of the sources of value and personal capital that individuals already possess.
Are designed to enhance capacity.
Support self-empowerment and self-determination.
We are The Conference Board of Canada’s Indigenous and Northern Communities team.
Our research will generate recommendations on how existing Inuit skill sets, strengths, and knowledge can be better applied to existing and emerging economic opportunities.
Our goal is to identify insights that will help Northern economies grow, diversify, and offer opportunities for sustainable livelihoods in Inuit Nunangat.
A rich, descriptive review of community perspectives on the four interrelated sources
The chance to hear community voices regarding how these sources of value can best be used to help create sustainable livelihoods.
An analysis of existing change agents and current opportunities identified by community leaders.
Identification of areas that can be supported to help Inuit capitalize on emerging opportunities.
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Any omissions in fact or interpretation remain the sole responsibility of The Conference Board of Canada. The findings do not necessarily reflect the views of the Future Skills Centre, its funder, or its partners.
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