Wednesday, 23 February 2011

how to use Inuit Qaujimaningit (IQ) principles

I'm somewhat dismayed by what I see as an the emptying of Inuit Qaujimaningit (IQ or Inuit Knowledge) principles.

In the heady days of the creation of Nunavut I worked at the Department of Sustainable Development in the newly minted Government of Nunavut, and that was where we first started thinking about applying Inuit societal values and philosophy of resource use (covering everything from economic development, training and renewable and nonrenewable resources) and environmental protection/regulation (at least, that was my assumption) under the broad rubric of Inuit Qaujimaningit. We came up with IQ Guiding Principles originally to house the establishment policy of the new DSD (see below).

In my naivete it never occurred to me that the Guiding Principles we struck at DSD would ever be taken out of context, thinking instead that each government department would reflect upon and adopt and adapt their own IQ principles in a more thoughtful manner as according to their unique and separate mandates - ie, that the principles we came up with would help other people think about and ask productive questions to imagine or envision a more just and promising future for our society (Inuit and non-Inuit alike).

There are believers out there as there are detractors. Many people say that IQ principles do not work. But not understanding what the principles are does not equate their invalidation. IQ is a way of interpreting and working within the context of something (be it human relations, the world or a way of being). IQ however and whatever its conceived, like any public discourse, is sustained and kept alive only by being actively involved in it.

Having said that, I now provide a context (which I view as a useful accomplishment to be proud of):

1.      Policy Statement

The Government of Nunavut establishes a department called the Department of Sustainable Development under the direction of a Minister.


The mandate of the Department of Sustainable Development is to promote, develop and maintain healthy, sustainable communities in Nunavut, through an integrated, holistic and systematic approach to development and growth, by jointly addressing economic, environmental and social issues, and assuring our future is founded on the culture and traditions of our people.

2.      Guiding Principles

The following set of guiding principles is modeled after the traditional Inuit community, of which the family is the smallest and most stable unit.

·        Inuit Qaujimanituqangit.  Development and growth must be built on a foundation of traditional Inuit values and culture.

·        Pijitsirniq.  We are here to serve, to support healthy, sustainable community development.
·        Government Leadership by Example.  The Department of Sustainable Development will share its knowledge of environmental management and promote the use of sustainable development principles.

·        Aajiiqatigiingniq.  Communication, consultation, and cross-fertilization of ideas are essential components of healthy, sustainable communities.
·        Equity.  Everyone must have an opportunity to play a productive role in the community, to share the benefits of development, and maintain a sustainable livelihood. The costs of development must not be an unfair burden to any individual or group in the community.
·        Participation, Consultation and Inclusiveness.  We will work together with our partners and the people of Nunavut to understand their needs, build consensus, and ensure their participation in the establishment of our objectives and actions.
·        Integrated Decision-Making.  Environmental, societal, and economic factors will be treated systematically during policy, program/project development, and decision-making.
·        Accountability and openness.  We will develop measurable objectives and publicly monitor and report on the outcome of our activities against these objectives, taking corrective action where necessary.

·        Pilimmaksaniq. Community ownership of process and results encourages capacity, adaptability, self-reliance, and empowerment.
·        Self-reliance.  We will use local resources, and strive to achieve development and growth by identifying our distinctive strengths, and by applying our own efforts and abilities.
·        Continuous Improvement.  Our commitment to sustainable development will be based on a commitment to new approaches and best practices, and the sharing of knowledge through open and direct communications. We will continue to update and adapt to reflect new knowledge, technology, information, and ideas, and to ensure what we produce will last, and meets the highest standards of durability, quality and economy.

·        Piliriqatigiingniq.  Every community is unique, with its own set of strengths, concerns, and vision for the realization of its full potential. Each community has something to contribute to the larger community of Nunavut.
·        Cooperation.  We will work in partnership with government and non-government agencies, Inuit Organizations, private organizations, and individual citizens, to support sustainable development in our communities.
·        Co-management.  We will co-manage our wildlife and habitat with Institutions of Public Government through a balanced effort of monitoring, good science, and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit.
·        Building Relationships.  Our actions will be dedicated to strengthening the relationships of people with the land, and with each other.
·        Sharing.  No individual or community provides all its own needs. We will share what we have with others.

·        Silatimik Kamattiarniq.  Human beings do not, and cannot exist outside the biosphere. What we do to the environment is what we do to ourselves.
·        Coexistence.  People and the environment have a right to coexistence in a healthy, supportive, diverse and sustainable condition.
·        Ecosystem Integrity.  Development will not exceed the capacity of natural ecosystems to respond, adapt, and recover from human disturbance.

·        Pollution Prevention. We will use processes and practices that avoid or minimize the creation of pollutants or wastes and eliminate risks to human health and the environment.

·        Inuuqatigiittiarniq.  Respect for others, tolerance of diverse values and needs, forbearance, these, tempered with common sense and maturity, are components of a just and tolerant society.
·        Diversity.  The Department of Sustainable Development is committed to development that is an expression of community culture and traditions, and of its distinct ecology, and which is based on internal strengths, rather than ascribed universal standards.
·        Commitment to future generations.  We have a responsibility to all future generations to provide them a rich and healthy cultural, social, economic and environmental legacy. Our actions in the present will not limit the choices of those who follow us in the future.

thank you,


1 comment:

  1. Hi JPT, I tried to find you on facebook or an email. Is there a way I can contact you? I appreciate this post. I wanted to see if there was a way to integrate Inuit knowledge with the wellness needs of the day. I don't want to create another useless document or approach that undermines IQ or water anything down. my email is LBChristine at