Course:FRST370/Natural resources management by the Inuit People in the Nunatsiavut area, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

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Inuit village photoed by Vlad Donkov.

The people of Nunatsiavut are Inuit in the Labrador region, where they co-exist with large amounts of whales and wildlife.

According to the Nunatsiavut government, Inuit people considered themselves as maritime people, having close connections to the environment.

This case study concentrates on the natural resource management of Inuit people with respect to the woodland and the marine environment in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Including wood-use, non-timber forest product, maritime resource by using different studies and scientific articles, and the specific governance method towards the management issue.


This case study focuses on the natural resource management of Inuit people with respect to woodland and marine environment in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Inuit are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples found in the Arctic regions of Greenland, Canada, and Alaska. With similar characteristics with Mongoloid people, Inuit is the shortest Indigenous People [source?]. Early Inuit ancestors had continual contact with Europe until the vanish of the Norse colonies in Green land and since then they lost this mutual trade for quite a while. Later on, Inuit had a conflict with eastern European because of the climate change in 14th century (the earth came into the little ice age). However, it is hard to find traditional stuffs of Inuit in colonies nowt for the reason that Europeans were unwilling to adapt to the Inuit lifestyles at that time.

In this case study, we discuss Inuit people in Nunatsiavut area, Canada.  As of the 2006 Canada Census there were 24640 Inuit living in Nunavut. In Nunavut the Inuit population forms a majority in all communities and is the only jurisdiction of Canada where Aboriginal peoples form a majority (statistics Canada, 2006). Inuit people there consider themselves as maritime people, having close connections to the environment. Not only were whales, seals, fish and caribou abundant, but also large forests were found in coastal areas (Heritage Newfoundland & Labrador, 2012). They settled near the sea and make a living by hunting these marine fish, marine mammals, mammals on the land such as duck, caribou, polar bear, etc. In addition, considerable hunting methods are adopted, for instance, rifles have replaced the traditional weapons little by little. Later, they developed the canoe and kayak as a popular sport game around the world with the development of the local fishery. Besides, dogs play an important role in Inuit nomadic lives as they often take dog sledding.

Tenure arrangements

The governance type is devolution.

Inuit Nunangat is comprised of four regions in Canada: Inuvialuit (NWT and Yukon), Nunavik (Northern Quebec), Nunatsiavut which we focus on in our case study (Labrador), Nunavut.

  In addition to a land claim agreements[1]which stipulate the Inuits' rights for harvesting, Inuit were granted title to certain blocks of land, covering approximately 40 percent areas in Canada’s land. Inuit of Nunatsiavut have title to approximately 15,800 square kilometers of land within the Labrador Inuit Settlement Area and rights over 72,520 square kilometers of land in northern Labrador (government of Canada, 2019).[2]

 What’s more, there is a five-year operating plan – Forest management District 19 (Central Labrador) and it mentions that the forest land base available for timber harvesting has been divided into five different management classifications (Forest management District 19, 2018[3]):

1.    Domestic reserves: only for domestic harvest permits

2.    Selective-commercial reserve: small-scale commercial operations that utilize a selective harvest approach.

3.    Commercial: provided for commercial harvesting permits, both selective-commercial and domestic harvesting.

4.    Visual management: for all harvesting activities, need to meet visual management objectives.

5.    Conservation Emphasis: apply a conservation emphasis management regime.

This is designed to balance the local timber values. The ecological and cultural values are the top priority. And forest management there is ecosystem-based. Last but not least, stakeholder participants and local communities are involved in the development of the management plan.

  To right historical wrongs, in 2010 the Government of Canada established a working group including all Inuit Land claim holders, the government of the Northwest territories and Nunavut, indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Health Canada, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and Pauktuutit. The Government of Canada works with Inuit leadership on the Nunilavut initiative together, hoping to address historical wrong properly (government of Canada, 2018).[4]

Administrative arrangements

They have a management agreement that covers the utilization and conservation of wildlife and the local forests. And all these four regions have signed Inuit Land claims agreements.

According to the Land Claim Agreement between the Inuit of Labrador and Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada (government of Canada, 2019),[5]

Chapter 12. wildlife and plant:

Part 12.1 definition: “conservation” means the management of wildlife, plants and habitat, including the management of human activities in relation to them, to foster sustainable utilization and maintenance of natural populations, biodiversity and ecological processes;

Part 12.3

Inuit Community rights for harvesting wildlife

Inuit domestic harvest

Inuit have the rights to harvest wildlife and plants throughout the Labrador Inuit Settlement Area at all times of the year, subject to  

(a)  Inuit laws

(b)  A restriction on seasons imposed for purposes of Conservation under laws of general application

(c)   Federal laws on firearms control.

Part 12.7 Nunatsiavut Government Powers and Authorities: the Nunatsiavut Government may make laws in relation to the following matters

12.7.1 (f) the harvesting of plants in, and the forestation and reforestation of , Labrador Inuit Lands and the management of Harvesting by Inuit of Plants in the Labrador Inuit Settlement Area outside Labrador Inuit Lands;

12.7.2 (a) the quantities of Plants that may be Harvested in Labrador Inuit lands; and

(b) access to Labrador Inuit Lands and to wildlife and plants in Labrador Inuit Lands by third parties having rights and interests.

Harvesting the waters

(a)  Domestic fishery: The Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement states that all Beneficiaries have the right to harvest at all times of the year throughout the Labrador Inuit Settlement Area. All Beneficiaries are allowed to harvest any species or stock of fish or aquatic plant, excluding the salmon species. No person may sell fish or aquatic plants harvested. However, Beneficiaries have the right to give their harvest to other aboriginal individuals and/or trade, exchange or barter amongst themselves.

(b)  Salmon Fisher: The salmon season varies every year but usually lasts for two months.

Prohibited species (wildlife)

(a)  The following species are endangered and prohibited from harvesting

- Harlequin Ducks(Lords and Ladies)

- Mealy Mountain Caribou Herd

- Wolverines

(b)  Total allowable harvest: varies in location and species (as shown in the figure: Inuit Community rights for harvesting wildlife).

Affected Stakeholders

All stakeholders are significant to achieve the goals of sustainable management of community forests and the process of managing must be based on their participation. Also local affected stakeholders are supposed to input knowledge and experience into the environmental protection guidelines.

Mammal hunters:

Local people have the rights to harvest mammals as well as plants in the Labrador Inuit Settlement Area. But their rights are restricted by Inuit laws under specific section and federal laws. Three species are free from hunting including Harlequin ducks, mealy mountain caribou herd and wolverines. And for other species, total allowable varies in species and locations for the purpose of conservation and sustainably development.

As for the hunting methods, it should be humane and not harm the local environment. Also, it shall not contravene harvesting restriction on method and technology for Harvest imposed by the Nunatsiavut Government and not contravene laws of General Application regarding public health and public safety.


They have rights to harvest at all the time within the Labrador Inuit Settlement Area. Except for Salmon fish, they can harvest any species they want. Although they are not allowed to sell the fishes or plants but they can give people who are aboriginal to sell, export, trade, and exchange.

Nunatsiavut Government (Lands and Natural Resources department):

The Nunatsiavut Government is responsible for sustainably managing both renewable and non-renewable resources. The department pays attention to all matters concerning about protection, utility and developing various kinds of resources in Nunatsiavut.  

Supporting the Nunatsiavut Government’s obligations in terms of co-management of resources;

Applying provisions of the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement concerning resource development; specifically chapters:

4: Land and Non-Renewable Resources;

5: Water Management and Inuit Water Rights;

6: Ocean Management;

8: Voisey's Bay Area;

9: National Parks and Protected Areas;

10: Land Use Planning;

11: Environmental Assessment;

12: Wildlife and Plants;

13: Fisheries;

14: Harvesting Compensation;

15: Place Names.

Management of Labrador Inuit Lands, including Specified Materials Lands and Water Lots;

Implementation of the Voisey's Bay Impacts and Benefits Agreement; and

Implementation of the Torngat Mountains National Park Impacts and Benefits Agreement.

Interested Outside Stakeholders

The natural resource management of Nunatsiavut are basically categorized into several fields.

List of Interested Stakeholders:

The village had a Danish factory for seafood 10 years ago, year by year, as a result of the industrial fishing, the seals and the salmon in the region are almost under distinction.

Commercial fishery, Seal products, and wood forest products; and multiple interested social actors are involved.  

Federal government: Arrange and construct policies to manage the hunting restrictions in Nunatsiavut (Firearms Act (1995); Species at Risk Act (2002); Labrador Inuit Land Claim Agreement). They have the power of regulating the overall economic activity in Nunatsiavut, which can be seen as low interests, but own the highest power[6].

The Nunatsiavut Government: The local government have the right of regulating local forest timber harvest, and at the same time, it is a quota-holder for a limited quantity of various commercial fish species, and the local government have the responsibility of three enterprises, which include but are not limited to: snow crab, turbot, and shrimp[7]. The Nunatsiavut government also provides special programs to help community economic development, for example:  The Community Economic Development Program provides assess to $300,000 annually; the Networking program provides access to stakeholders, potential partners, funding agencies, and like-minded entrepreneurs[8].

i.e. Northern Lights 2020 event in Ottawa: It is designed to profile Eastern Arctic& North business, industry, history, and culture. With thousands of attendees and hundreds of exhibitors[9].

The local government have the power to supervise the economic activity at a local level, and construct detailed regulations, the interest is high, and the power is also relatively high.

Consumers of the Commercial Fishery: The market income depends on the global market, the exported sea products like crabs, fishes, and baleen products are consumed by consumers from other parts of the world. Their interest is at medium, and they have relatively lower power. This is a video describing the local fisheries in the Labrador Inuit community.

The wildlife officers: Under the department of environment, they have the responsibility to buy the seal products from the native Inuit hunters, working as a middle man in the seal product market. According to the "Angry Inuk", the seal products are combined to sell on an international auction, and this is how the Inuit take part in the global commercial seal skin marketing. The interest of the wildlife officer is high, and they have relatively lower power of controlling local resource management, which is below the local government.

Greenpeace and other activists: They fight against the seal skin export, block Inuit economic activities, they successfully influenced the European Union's ban on sealskin products in 1983. Even though the legislation exempts the Inuit, reputations of the sealskin were already ruined, as a result, the average income of a seal hunter dropped by 98%. Their interest in the issue is really high, and they are proven to have some power to influence government decisions. The documentary "Angry Inuk" describes the event in detail through a scope as being a member of the Inuit Community .

Consumer of the wood products: There are no timbers consumers, because of the absence of commercial logging. Wood resources in Nunatsiavut are generally not commercial, most of the woods are cut-down for personal use[10].


Forest Management Plan (2018-2022) conducted by the Department of Fisheries and Land Resources & Inuit Nation.

Aims and Intentions of the Management Method

On the side of intentions and aims of the current management project, it is reasonable to believe that this is the topic which all the involved stakeholders are concerned with. Ocean, iceberg, snow cover, and tundra-forest are all considered to be presented in the local ecosystem, which is a diverse and complicated system. Various precious natural resources like timber, non-timber forest product, sea products occupy the core of the local economy and even survival, thus the sensitive environment is valued greatly for both the local Inuit community and government.

The community forestry and natural resources of Labrador Inuit are managed by the Labrador Inuit Land Claims. The Government of Canada, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Labrador Inuit Association (LIA) agreed on the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement. The agreement took effect on December 1, 2005.

The Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement mentioned multiple aspects of the management method and regulations of the local natural resource management, including: Land and Non-renewable resources, water management and Inuit water rights, ocean management, economic development, National Parks and Protected Areas, Land use planning, Environment Assessment, Wildlife and plants, fisheries, harvesting compensation, etc [11].

Critical Issues on the Management Process

There are several critical issues in this community, including the right to hunting and fishing, management of non-timber forest products, and timber harvesting sustainability. The following management plan is retrieved from the "Five Year Operating Plan Forest Management District 19 (Central Labrador).

Hunting, trapping, and fishing:

Hunting, trapping, and fishing activities are essential for the local community. As a result, both commercial and domestic hunting and trapping, fishing opportunities are available and expected to continue during the operating plan. For the Inuit community, hunting barren-ground caribou, partridge, geese, and duck remains an integral part of their lifestyle and an important food source. A specific management plan has already been made to regulate hunting-related activities to ensure the protection of wildlife habitat, including guidelines, schedules, and information.

Non-timber forest product:

In this case, in order to create a healthy and sustainable management method in the Nunatsiavut area, several regulations related to NTFP are being constructed:

1. Create and maintain ecological and cultural protected areas networks;

2. Maintain domestic reserves;

3. Support the development of a database of potential NTFP, processing ideas and market information for the district.

4. Continue to gather NTFP harvester data including identification of harvesting areas and mitigate impacts where possible.

Timber harvesting:

As for the timber harvesting and sustainability, the importance of the timber use locally goes without saying. Timber harvesting represents one of the key components of this forest management plan, which occurs at a variety of scales in the district.

Surveys revealed widespread cutting, however, as demonstrated by an abundance of cut stumps (an average of one stump for four live trees). Also striking was the scarcity of naturally dead trees. This fact was mentioned by respondents, for whom the growing population in Nain and the intense harvesting of firewood had led to a scarcity of "good wood"[10].

In order to prevent and regulate the Industrial clear cut, these harvesting activities has to follow the rules and standards of the plan, for example:

1. Timber harvesting operations will be subject to protection guidelines;

2. Pre-operational planning is required to identify sensitive features before harvesting commences;

3. Moist or wet timber management areas require harvesting activities to take place in the winter season, etc.

Proper legislation represents proper goals, in this way, the most critical natural resource management problems could have the chance to be handled correctly. In my opinion, these agreements and committee are reasonable. All the related topics are well thought, so the community resource management has high likelihood to succeed. These regulations have already been running by the government for years, and have a positive performance.


Relative Power of Governance

the power comparison of different interested & affected stakeholders

Government as Social Actors:

Among different social actors and stakeholders that were mentioned, the Federal Government of Canada, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador owns the highest power of controlling the governance towards the natural resource management in Labrador Inuit Community.

According to the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement, there is a fiver year five-year operating plan and a twenty-year operating plan. Forest Process Agreement (FPA) is arranged to provide communications, information sharing, and how to resolve the problem between the Inuit Nation and the province, concerning planning and management, and to facilitate participation by the Inuit Nation.

Subsequent to FPA, Interim Forest Agreements (IFA) were signed with the Inuit Nation with the most recent one being signed in 2017, which includes the establishment of a forest management committee (FMC). The main role is to provide advice on the implementation of the forest management plan, encourage involvement, and to provide suggestions concerning the management of forest resources locally.

Labrador Inuit Association as social Actors:

The rights of individuals and communities of the Labrador Inuit are represented by the Labrador Inuit Association (LIA), which is the autonomous Nunatsiavut Government. The Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement set a precedent by including self-government provisions within the land claim, and Nunatsiavut is the first of the Inuit regions in Canada to have achieved self-government[12]. The Government of Nunatsiavut has a relatively high power of managing the natural resources in Labrador Inuit, their power is given by the Federal Government and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador as a measure of Decentralization and Devolution, thus as a self-governing Inuit regional government, they are able to set new standards for Inuit people and the way in which they interact with the provincial government and other entities[12].

Wildlife Officers as social actors:

The government owns the power of monitoring and provides economic helps through different government programs.

For example, natural products were gathered and sold by the wildlife officers, who belong to the Department of Environment. As a result, the power of such an intermediate agency is relatively low. The wildlife officer is more likely serves to help upper-level management comparing with the managing overall resources.

Local Hunters as social actors:

The power of managing natural resources for local community members like hunters and fishers ranks lastly comparing with other social actors. They are not participated directly in the governance processes, and their voices could only be heard by the local government of Nunatsiavut. According to the protests of Greenpeace activists, local villagers have no power to stand against the claims, and they suffered under the lack of power to express their own will, and the unequal treatment under United Nations.


For the purpose of increase local community development and invent management measures with better performance, here are some suggestions towards the current governance.

Melt Portrait of an Iceberg by Simon Harsent

Incorporating Changes Caused by Climate Change

Long-past and recent climate changes have greatly impacted northern regions, including Nunatsiavut. The affected climate has caused great influence into forest-tundra ecosystems of Labrador Inuit habitat. Several observable changes were analyzed, including the increased amount of trees and shrubs, the higher rate of vegetation growth, lots of deforestation within and around the community, and the arrival of new animals[10].

Such changes could lead to a disruption of the current management system, the regulations towards natural resources management that were conducted previously may no longer applicable. Local villagers are experiencing a change of their adapted habitat, and sudden change can probably lead to problems like shift lifestyle, mental and physical illness. Some of the existing studies are focusing on the topic of climate change impact on local habitat, and well being of the local Inuit community. For example: The land enriches the soul.

As a result, the local government should pay more attention to incorporating ecosystem changes caused by climate, and observe specific influences that are affecting local habitat.

Invent Mitigation and Adaptation Method

Furthermore, in order to develop targeted programs focusing on climate change issues, mitigation and adaptation methods should be considered. the environment near the arctic is completely different from other regions of the world, and measures should be tailored specifically towards the local forest-tundra ecosystems.

The arising of new species could cause pressures to local species, and the increased amount of trees and vegetation is probably going to decrease the quality and growth environment of individuals. There should be a modest reduction of new species and vegetation, thus to restore the old traditional habitat.

More Programs Supporting Economy and Ecology Development

The economic issues are still should be focused by the local government. The income opportunity is limited. Specifically, the only income source of villagers and hunters is the sea products like fish, crabs, and sea l skin.

The economic opportunity should be widened though more diverse economic conventions, in order to increase the sales channels, conduct a broader international market, and improve the local economic development.

Subsidies are also needed to be provided. This kind of welfare benefits has the ability to stimulate local production, like better performance in the fisheries industry. Increase the worker's morale and help them restore working efficiency in a better mental state.


  1. "land claim agreement".
  2. "the Government of Canada".
  3. "Five Year Operating Plan Forest Management District 19" (PDF).
  4. "the Government of Canada".
  5. "the Government of Canada".
  6. "A new era for the Labrador Inuit". Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. November 24, 2005. Retrieved November 28, 2019.
  7. "Fisheries". Nunatsiavut Government. 2019. Retrieved November 28, 2019.
  8. "Business". Nunatsiavut Government. 2019. Retrieved November 28, 2019.
  9. "Reasons to Attend". Northern Lights Conference. 2019. Retrieved November 28, 2019.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Lemus-Lauzon, Isabel; Bhiry, Najat; Woollett, James (2012). "Napâttuit: Wood use by Labrador Inuit and its impact on the forest landscape". Études Inuit Studies. 36: 113–137.
  11. "Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement" (PDF). Nunatsiavut Government. 2005. Retrieved November 28, 2019.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "About Nunatsiavut Government". Nunatsiavut Government. 2019. Retrieved November 28, 2019.

Seekiefer (Pinus halepensis) 9months-fromtop.jpg
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