As ice melts, the Inuit strive to keep their culture alive

Amid a warming climate and disappearing traditional knowledge, Inuit communities in the Canadian Arctic are grappling to adapt.

When sea ice ages, the salt sinks into the ocean, leaving fresh, drinkable water on top. Charlotte Naqitaqvik collects a teapot of water at her family’s hunting camp in Nuvukutaak, near the community of Arctic Bay in northern Canada.

In the spring, when animals migrate north and the sun never sets, Inuit children join their families on weeks-long camping trips across Canada’s Arctic. They’re taught hunting skills and cultural values passed down for more than 5,000 years. In the past three decades, multiyear ice, the thickest (and oldest) type that supports the Arctic marine ecosystem, has declined by 95 percent. Elders no longer can predict safe travel routes on thinning ice, and animal migration patterns are changing. The future of the ice—and those who live on it—is uncertain.

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