Summertime Fieldwork in Canada’s Accessible Arctic

Everyone has a summertime ritual. Some go to the beach; others soak up the sun on a patio. Our botany team, as usual (2014, 2015), will pack up our plant presses and head north in search of Arctic plants.

This year finds us traveling to the community of Arviat. Their tourism motto is “Canada’s Accessible Arctic” and true enough, this Hudson Bay hamlet is Nunavut’s southernmost mainland community and a relatively short hop north from Winnipeg, Manitoba.

A map showing the Arviat area and a map showing Canada and Greenland.

The community of Arviat sits on a small peninsula on the west coast of Hudson Bay (inset map). The site proposed for Nuvuk Territorial Park (roughly outlined by the orange box) occupies the eastern half of this peninsula. Image: © 2015, IBCAO, Landsat, Data SIO, NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO; map data © 2015 Google (modified by P.C. Sokoloff)

Just outside of Arviat is the currently proposed Nuvuk Territorial Park. This park will protect a wide range of habitats, from coastal shorelines to freshwater ponds and shrub tundra, which, in turn, likely harbours a diverse flora.

Five people smile at the camera.

caption The Arviat field team. Left to right: Lynn Gillespie, Troy McMullin, Sam Godfrey, Geoff Levin and Paul Sokoloff. Image: Paul Sokoloff © Canadian Museum of Nature

This year’s expedition team, including museum botanist Lynn Gillespie, Ph.D., research associate Geoff Levin, Ph.D., lichenologist Troy McMullin, Ph.D., grad student Sam Godfrey, and myself will catalogue the vascular plant and lichen diversity of Nuvuk to provide park managers with a comprehensive baseline inventory.

A field of cottongrass.

Cottongrass (Eriophorum sp.) sways in the wind near Arviat, Nunavut. Image: Mike Beauregard © Mike Beauregard (CC-BY-2.0)

Unlike many previous expeditions, this year we will be primarily based out of Arviat, staying in a research station owned by the Nunavut Research Institute. This will give us the chance to work closely with both Nunavut Parks and members of the community—an amazing opportunity to learn from and share knowledge with Nunavummiut (the people of Nunavut).

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