Environment and Natural Resources

The Environment and Natural Resources department works to protect, promote and enhance the sustainable use of the environment and natural and cultural resources. The department strives to maintain healthy ecosystems, viable animal populations and a clean environment, while protecting the Indigenous harvesting rights of NunatuKavut Inuit. NCC remains connected to our ancestors through a spiritual connection to our land, ice and water.

Fisheries and Oceans

Communal Fishery

NunatuKavut Inuit have a deep cultural and economic connection to the fishery. Each year, NCC issues designations for salmon, trout, char and cod. Members are strongly encouraged to return catch logs, which provides crucial information for the monitoring and analysis of designations, as well as fish stock variations. NCC continues to collaborate with DFO through the implementation of a Contribution Agreement under the Federal Aboriginal Fishing Strategy to accomplish mutual objectives while protecting and promoting our rights to harvest fish.

ENR staff also oversee the Community Freezer Program. More information on this important program can be found here.

Marine Protected Areas

NCC is committed to working with DFO to continue science research through field data collection in the Gilbert Bay Marine Protected Area (MPA). Through this program, NCC guardians are gathering aquatic samples to be further analyzed. NCC is also working with DFO to study the possibility of creating an Inuit Marne Protected Area by participating in the Federal Government’s Marine Spatial Planning process.

Oceans Protection Planning

A critical component to this work is the engagement of NCC coastal communities that are knowledgeable of the maritime environment and its issues. NCC works in collaboration with the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG), DFO and Transport Canada (TC) on Oceans Protection Plan initiatives pertaining to RAMSARD and other maritime safety issues (i.e. Navigable Aids) and oceans importance and protection. NCC is very supportive of community dialogue and this type of collaboration in the areas of environmental response, marine situational awareness, ice breaking and Aids to Navigation to help support NCC communities with respect to readiness for marine incident prevention and response.

Coastal Restoration

The Coastal Restoration Fund (CRF) is part of the national Oceans Protection Plan. NCC has partnered with the World Wildlife Fund, among others, to participate in a province-wide project called “Stewarding Coastal Habitats Monitoring and Restoration for Priority Species.” Its goal is to identify data gaps on coastal habitats for priority species, particularly capelin, but including salmon, trout and char.

Under this program, there has been investments in useful tools, including a new plotter for recording and sharing traditional knowledge and an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to help assess and monitor coastal erosion. With the assistance of Birdseye Incorporated to start, the data collected by the UAV will be analysed by the Newfoundland and Labrador Geological Survey and the final product will be added to NCC’s own geographic information system. This monitoring program is important to gain an understanding of coastal erosion on nearshore habitats.

Environment and Wildlife

Climate Change

NunatuKavut communities are experiencing the impacts of climate change firsthand. Local conditions and ecosystems are changing, which affect community health, safety and culture. Understanding the climate is important to the management of natural resources and the future of coastal communities. NCC continues to play a more meaningful role in monitoring, research and action on climate change now and into the future.

NCC is leading discussions within communities to gather and share Indigenous knowledge and identify priorities for the territory. This is necessary to support immediate and short-term needs, such as changes in weather and ice conditions, as well as longer-term monitoring and research needs that focus on changes in the climate and ecosystems over time.

Community-Based Climate Monitoring Project

NCC has just started a three-year Community-Based Climate Monitoring Project that engages community youth, elders, and adults who currently spend time out on the land hunting, fishing, or harvesting berries and plants. It involves the communities of Cartwright, Charlottetown and St. Lewis. The project will be expanded to other communities when possible.

The project will focus on seven climate indicators from sea ice to invasive species (primarily aquatic) to health and seasonal timing of plants. Knowledge and data will be collected in three ways:

  • Youth Direct Ice and Water Monitoring
  • Elder Climate Knowledge
  • “Out on the Land” for collecting observations from active adults.

While the first is specifically designed to provide youth with skills and climate knowledge, youth will also be involved in the others as observers and assistants to NCC staff. This will increase opportunities for intergenerational transfer of knowledge as well as to build skills in this area.

Caribou

Mealy Mountain Caribou Herd

NCC is concerned about the population of the Mealy Mountain Caribou Herd (MMCH), whose habitat is located wholly within NunatuKavut. It is currently listed as a threatened species under federal and provincial legislation. A survey of the herd’s population estimates was last completed in 2012 and a population census took place in 2019. NCC strongly encourages its people to avoid any harvesting of this herd until there is further information and data to inform management decisions.

Ungava Peninsula Caribou Aboriginal Round Table (UPCART)

Evidence from both our traditional knowledge holders and scientific data continue to show significant declines in caribou populations harvested by Indigenous groups and nations inhabiting the Quebec-Labrador Peninsula. As a result, a collective decision was made in 2013 to establish an Indigenous leadership-led initiative to discuss concerns relating to caribou called UPCART. It was formed with membership from seven nations, including Inuit of NCC, Inuit of Nunavik, Inuit of Nunatsiavut, Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach, Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)/Cree Nation Government (GCC(EI)/CNG), Innu Nation of Labrador and all Innu communities from the Québec region.

One of the priorities of UPCART was to develop a caribou management strategy with a wholistic Indigenous vision. The management strategy, called “A LONG TIME AGO IN THE FUTURE: CARIBOU AND THE PEOPLE OF UNGAVA,” was officially released at a historic signing ceremony with all seven nations in October 2017 in Montreal. A copy of the strategy can be downloaded by clicking on the following link:

Other Species At Risk

Since the arrival of the first European settlers, more than 30 wildlife species have become extinct in Canada. (Hinterland’s Who Who). A species at risk is any plant or animal that is likely to become extinct, or is at risk of disappearing from the NL or Canada. Species assessed as extirpated, endangered, threatened or special concern/vulnerable are all considered species at risk.

NCC needs to conserve NunatuKavut’s plants, animals, and ecosystems so that we have an environment that supports healthy communities. If we properly manage our activities and use our natural resources in a sustainable way, we can help protect vulnerable species, today and into the future.

ENR’s ongoing activities will continue to manage the conservation of the species at risk within NunatuKavut territory and to educate about the current species at risk and the important role NunatuKavut Inuit play in its conservation. Recovery activities will include outreach, monitoring and data collection, gathering and documenting Inuit Traditional Knowledge and species at risk protection.

The program will target the following Species At Risk:

  • Caribou (Rangifer tarandus) Boreal population – Threatened
  • Little Brown Myotis (Myotis lucifugus) – Endangered
  • Northern Myotis (Myotis septentrionalis) – Endangered
  • Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) – Special Concern
  • Wolverine (Gulo gulo) – Special Concern
  • Ivory Gull (Pagophila eburnea) – Endangered
  • Red Knot rufa subspecies (Calidris canutus rufa) – Endangered

There maybe other species at risk within NCC territory that might be added to the program, however, more research will be required to determine potential activities. The species that could be included are other migratory birds (bank swallow, barrow’s goldeneye, common nighthawk, harlequin duck olive-sided flycatcher, peregrine falcon anatum/tundrius, rusty blackbird, short-eared owl) and insects (gypsy cuckoo and yellow-banded bumble bee).

The Government of Canada maintains a species at risk public registry. Please visit https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/species-risk-public-registry.html to learn more.

Report an unknown animal or plant or a species at risk
to 709-960-0407 or sighting@nunatukavut.ca

Migratory Birds

NCC has been consulting with NunatuKavut Inuit on migratory bird and gull egg harvests for many years. Education workshops and field surveys, such as Wingbees, nest plumage surveys, nest egg hatch surveys, and harvest surveys have been influential in moving towards developing a proposed harvest management strategy to Council. While protecting the resource, NCC understands the need to preserve our relationship to traditional food harvests. A harvesting management strategy is being developed to ensure NunatuKavut Inuit can continue to rely on traditional foods while protecting the resource.

Lands and Energy

Forestry

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and its Department of Fisheries and Land Resources (DFR) continues to engage NCC in the development of district forestry plans. DFR is required to consult with NCC on the forest operations and development in Labrador districts 19, (Upper Lake Melville), 20 (Sandwich Bay) and 21 (South Coast). This provides NCC with some limited capacity to work along with DFR in forestry planning, in the review of all permitting processes and involvement in other management aspects as they relate to forestry activities in these three districts.

Environmental Assessments and Permitting

NunatuKavut Inuit have always travelled and lived throughout Labrador. Our environment, natural resources and waterways provided the necessities for our people and communities. We took only what was needed and wasted nothing. Conservation and stewardship of our environment continues to be the major priority for our people and the NunatuKavut Community Council (NCC).  Before any projects or development can take place within NunatuKavut, our communities and people must be fully consulted during the environmental review process. NCC’s Environment and Natural Resources department reviews all Environmental Assessments and associated permits to:

  • Identify possible environmental effects;
  • Propose measurements to mitigate adverse effects;
  • Predict whether there will be significant adverse environmental effects, even after the mitigation is implemented; and
  • Consult with our communities and share information

The department ensures that the use of Indigenous knowledge and current western science is incorporated in the review of all environmental assessments and permit reviews.

NunatuKavut Guardians

With over 40 years of collective experience by local Guardians, the Aboriginal Fisheries Guardian Program is designed to support the management, protection and enforcement of the NCC communal fishing and wildlife activities within NunatuKavut. The Guardians work closely with DFO Fisheries Officers and, on many occasions, are the first line of communication with NCC membership, educating members about licenses, reporting violations, fish and fish habitat, wildlife, monitoring and reporting. In addition to this, the Guardians often participate and provide crucial local information during DFO stakeholder consultations and community level meetings. Their contribution cannot be understated and provides a valuable means of relationship building with NCC communities, management and its members. They also present at special interest group meetings, schools, workshops and youth/elder functions.

Staff

George Russell Jr.
Director, Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Tel: (709) 896-0592, ext. 229
Fax: (709) 896-0594
grussell@nunatukavut.ca

Charlene Kippenhuck
Manager, Environment and Natural Resources
Tel: (709) 896-0592 ext 230
ckippenhuck@nunatukavut.ca

Tina Combden
Financial Officer
Tel: (709) 896-0592 ext 235
Fax: (709) 896-0594
tcombden@nunatukavut.ca

Donna Carroll
Ocean and Aquatics Specialist
Tel: (709) 896-0592 ext. 232
dcarroll@nunatukavut.ca

Irene Parr
Program Support Assistant (Port Hope Simpson)
Tel: (709) 960-0420
Fax: 709-960-0425
iparr@nunatukavut.ca

Samantha Rumbolt
Program Support Assistant (Cartwright)
Tel: (709) 938-7333
srumbolt@nunatukavut.ca

Margie Clarke
Resource Technician
(Happy Valley-Goose Bay)
Tel: (709) 896-0592 ext 223
Fax: (709) 896-0594
mclarke@nunatukavut.ca

Cameron Pye
Resource Technician
(Port Hope Simpson)
Tel: (709) 960-0407
Fax: (709) 960-0425
cpye@nunatukavut.ca

Ashleigh Taylor
Resource Technician
Tel: (709) 960-0407
Fax: (709) 960-0425
ataylor@nunatukavut.ca

George Morris
Senior Guardian – Port Hope Simpson
Tel: (709) 960-0407
gmorris@nunatukavut.ca

Patrick Davis
Guardian – Cartwright
Tel: (709) 938-7333
pdavis@nunatukavut.ca

Sherry Turnbull
Guardian – Port Hope Simpson
Tel: (709) 960-0407
sturnbull@nunatukavut.ca

Keenin Coombs
Biologist/Researcher
Happy Valley-Goose Bay
Tel: (709) 896-0592 ext 233
kcoombs@nunatukavut.ca

Kristen Milbury
Aquatic Biologist
Tel: (709) 896-0592 ext 227
Fax: (709) 896-0594
kmilbury@nunatukavut.ca

Kathleen Simms
Environmental Analyst
Tel: (709) 896-0592 ext 231
Fax: (709) 896-0594
ksimms@nunatukavut.ca

Robyn Holwell
Resource Technician
(Cartwright)
Tel: (709) 938-7972
rholwell@nunatukavut.ca

Devaughn Dyson
Guardian – Cartwright
Tel: (709) 938-7333
ddyson@nunatukavut.ca

Roxanne Notley
Food Security Coordinator
Port Hope Simpson
Tel: (709) 960-0407
rnotley@nunatukavut.ca

Nunatukavut In This Section