Cultural Significance

Canadian Indigenous peoples have experienced rapid cultural changes in the last few generations. These changes, and the limited economic opportunities across the Canadian Arctic, create challenging socio-economic conditions. Maintaining a link to natural resources is extremely important for cultural, mental and physical wellbeing. This is accomplished by traditional activities such as fishing for arctic char, harvesting seals, caribou and polar bears. Community-based wildlife management, the sharing of wildlife products, conservation hunting and fur trade play an important role in defining their culture identity and enhancing community cohesion.

Polar bear hunting is highly regulated and largely subsistence-based for Indigenous communities in Canada’s North. Polar bear hunting is part of the traditional way of life, and Indigenous peoples benefit from the harvest through the use of skins, meat, and income generated from guided hunts and the sale of items, such as hides and handicrafts made from parts of the bear. Therefore, there is great interest and support in maintaining healthy and viable (sub) populations of this valuable and charismatic species. Numerous examples from around the world have demonstrated that keeping an economic link between wildlife and local populations is an important component of sound conservation.