Rigolet, Round Three

Each time I’ve travelled to Rigolet this past year, I’ve travelled almost the exact same route.

Each time, I’ve flown out of Toronto on a Thursday at around 12pm EST, and after a brief stop in Halifax landed in Happy Valley-Goose Bay at around 7pm AST to join up with the rest of my team.

To get to Rigolet from HV-GB on my first two visits, I flew via Air Labrador on what have been the most scenic, exhilarating flights of my young life.

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 From Guelph, Ontario to Rigolet, Nunatsiavut.

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Flying over Nunatsiavut at sunset, February 2016.

This time around, Oliver (my fellow fledgling researcher) and I are taking the ferry to Rigolet. Tonight. Overnight, to be specific. And for the first time we are travelling without our advisors, who will be joining us early next week.

Before we embark on this nautical nighttime adventure, I’ll give a brief rundown of our trip so far.

We arrived in HV-GB yesterday evening and this morning we met with our incredible partners at the Nunatsiavut Government Dept. of Health and Social Development. We presented some updates on what we’ve been doing over the past few months and asked for their advice and guidance as we move forward into the next phases of the project.

What have we been working on, you ask? Well, our team has been putting together the initial versions of an App and website that community members in Rigolet will eventually use to record and respond to observations, trends, and changes in their environment in order to promote and sustain good well-being.

During our first two visits in October and February, we helped to lead consultations with community members regarding: 1) what types of environment- and health- related observations are important to keep track of in Rigolet; 2) why these observations are important to track; 3) how they are already keeping track of changes in these observations; 4) what they want this project to look like; and 5) how, from their perspectives, we can work together to make this project engaging, effective, and meaningful.

At a conceptual level, these consultations helped us to collaboratively identify environment- and health- related concerns and priorities with Inuit in Rigolet. At a practical level, the insights and ideas that came from these consultations have helped us to co-develop the technology for addressing these concerns and priorities.

This project is Inuit-led and is driven by community-based, participatory approaches to research. Inuit knowledge is foundational to all stages of its development, and all the data will belong to the community. I have no clue what to expect in terms of how everything will come together, but I think that’s the point. 

Over the next two weeks in Rigolet, we’ll be sharing updates on the project as well as delving deeper into understanding what our next steps will be. Did I mention we’ll also be here during the annual Salmon Festival? Yeah, that’s happening.

In all seriousness, it is truly an honour to be here, again, learning from and working with this team.

Each time I’ve travelled to Rigolet, I’ve travelled almost the exact same route. And each time I’ve travelled this route, I’ve experienced it a little differently. What were once unfamiliar experiences are now familiar. Yet, I’m finding that as these experiences become more familiar, I’m discovering parts of myself with which I am unfamiliar. And I’m realizing how this research has so seamlessly become a part of who I am and how I understand the world around me.

“Our understanding of the world is built up of innumerable layers. Each layer is worth exploring, as long as we do not forget that it is one of many.”

 

Erwin Chargaff

 

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