Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit: Social History, Politics and the Practice of Resistance

Frank James Tester, Peter Irniq


The creation of the Nunavut government has been accompanied by an emphasis on Inuit knowledge—Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ)—in the making of policy and in procedures affecting Nunavutmiut (Nunavummiut). Definitions of IQ parallel those of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), indigenous knowledge (IK), and traditional knowledge (TK). The extent to which cosmologies and belief systems are incorporated into definitions of these terms and the extent to which their use is narrowly focused on the management of biological resources are ongoing sources of concern. The language used to define and promote IQ often serves to move IQ away from its cosmological implications and define it as a tool useful for filling gaps in scientific knowledge. To appreciate a seamless definition of IQ, a better understanding of Inuit social and cultural history is necessary. An examination of this history depicts IQ as a form of resistant practice that can seriously challenge characteristic assumptions of Western science, such as the separation of humans from other forms of life. Inuit operating with a seamless definition of IQ are, however, confronted with contemporary social, economic, and political realities that challenge and may limit the use of IQ in the management and development of Nunavut.


Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit; culture; rights; Inuit social history; wildlife management; resistance; Nunavut government; Western science

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