A northern researcher reflects on his years of experience with the NCP, and how important it is to communicate the scientific research back to the Northern communities.
Transcript: Eric Loring
My name is Eric Loring and I work at the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami as senior researcher there for the last. Oh, 15 years or so I guess now.
Since the very first day that I came into the door there, my first job was to meet up with people at the Northern Contaminants Program which was a new program that was really starting up at the time, and then here we are 15 years later doing the 20th anniversary, and we’re all a bit greyer and a bit more knowledgeable to some extent but it’s a real testament to the program that we’re all still going 15 years down the road.
The job that I do at Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami is to communicate a lot of the information that scientists produce back to the Inuit regions, communities and individuals so they can make good decisions on the country foods they’re eating and the food that is an important part of their lifestyle. And our organization has been a really a big supporter of the program for the capacity, their efforts in engaging local communities in the North, Inuit, whether it’s been communities or the regions, it’s been a very instrumental program for us. And learning how to communicate really well to the North.
One of the really great things about this program is that it does adapt really well. And certainly we learned a lot of lessons on communicating about contaminants. Learning what people are understanding from very complicated scientific information, so it’s become really good for us and the Northern Contaminants Program and to scientists, researchers in general to kind of take lessons that we’ve learned in communicating about science, contaminants science and so forth, and to bring that back to the community.
One of the great things about this program and the fact that it has gone on so long is that people who we started communicating to, have now sort of gone on and are kind of my bosses and stuff like that. They’ve gone from being at a high school level to really being at a university senior level to be able to help their communities and help Inuit and others.
People recognize us when we come into the communities, and they also know who to contact, and I think that is really important for the communities and for people is that if they’re concerned about something, if they hear something in the news or scientists have found something, they know where to go to get answers to that concern, so they can call us up or they can call the regional contaminants committees up or they can call the Inuit Research Advisors up. There are so many people in place that the Northern Contaminants Program has done. So if there is a concern it can get addressed very quickly. And that information can go to the community level to get addressed but it can also go to the international level where the Inuit Circumpolar Council can take it to the UNEP negotiations and other international negotiations to make sure that the world also knows about this issue as well.
Eric Loring first began working with Inuit in 1976 in northern Labrador, teaching archaeological skills to Inuit youth. Since that time he has lived and worked in many Canadian Inuit regions as well as Greenland and Alaska. Eric has represented Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) on the NCP Management Committee since 1998. His focus is on education and the communication of environmental contaminants information in Inuit regions.