Feature Interview: ‘Close calls’ part of the job says Canadian polar bear monitor

Leo Ikakhik, Arviat Polar Bear Monitor. Photo courtesy of the Hamlet of ArviatArviat, a predominantly Inuit community of 2800 people in Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut, has long been plagued by the increasing number of rogue polar bears in the community.

Nobody is quite sure why the problem is becoming more common, but the worries it has created are shared by all residents.

Sled dogs and property have been attacked. And parents and locals have long been worried about the dangers the bears pose for people, especially children, in the community.

But a recent project put in place by the World Wildlife Fund and the Hamlet of Arviat called “The Human-Polar Bear Conflict Reduction Project” seems to be turning things around.

Last week, I spoke with Arviat’s polar bear monitor Leo Ikakhik to find out more.

To listen to the complete interview on Radio Canada International, click here

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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