In Inuktitut, igliniit refers to trails routinely travelled. Countless trails are known and used by Inuit and these trails join to create a vast network across the Canadian North and the Arctic. The location, use, condition, and changes in igliniit over time and space can help us understand the environment and human-environment relationships. Igliniit and the use of igliniit helped to inspire the Igliniit Project, a sub-project of the Inuit Sea Ice and Use Occupancy Project that took place during the last International Polar Year (2007-2008).
In the Igliniit Project, hunters from Clyde River and geomatics engineering students from the University of Calgary Schulich School of Engineering, worked together to create a tool that hunters can use to document their observations as they travel. This tool served a number of purposes, including a means to support hunters’ contributions to, and leadership of, environmental research and monitoring efforts.
The Igliniit tool merges together existing technologies: a field computer, GPS receiver, and a weather station. Based on many iterative designs in collaboration with the Clyde hunters, the geomatics students added a specialized piece as well, which was the Igliniit software that allows the hunters to log their observations of the environment, through an icon-driven touch screen in either Inuktitut or English. The icons are easily customized and are chosen by the hunters doing the observing. In the Igliniit project, we tested the Igliniit technology for two years, using approximately 30 icons (observations) and other “qualifiers” – icons that help to add additional information to observations, like “catch” (ie., an animal was caught, not only observed), and “danger” (ie, a crack in the sea ice was dangerous).
The technology developed in the Igliniit project needs further iteration, and testing in other communities (similar technology is currently being tested by the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board). It has potential to assist in many northern activities including environmental monitoring, wildlife research and monitoring, land use studies, cultural and archaeological inventories, placenames documentation, and search and rescue activities.