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Habiter le Nord québécois


Habiter le Nord québécois


Land Preservation

Take Care of the Land and its Meanings

Nancy Etok

Interview with LINQ (2023)

"It's almost like the mountains are hugging you, you feel secure just by looking at the mountains and the trees […] you feel like you're in a peaceful environment, all the time."

Nuna is a sacred community asset that anchors the knowledge, practices, and history of the Inuit people. Maintaining the land near and in the villages thus means protecting Inuit identity.

Aside from its vital ecological role, the land embodies meaningful places that are deeply rooted in collective memory. Its qualities and strong imageability form a cultural landscape inscribed in people’s lives. In this sense, the land and its landscapes are indivisible: nuna encompasses both the complex organization of the world (the land) and its manifestations as they can be felt, perceived, and experienced (the landscape).

Climate change is rapidly altering the land’s seasonal cycles: thawing permafrost and heavier rainfall cause landslides, ice changes and water erosion fragilize the shores, and altered wildlife habitats and berry picking spots impact food harvesting. Meanwhile, imported urban development practices encroach insensitively upon the precious land, which is an irreplaceable source of food and well-being. The land close to the villages is particularly at risk of being permanently degraded.

What We've Learned

Paths for Change

Sustainable village planning and land care go hand in hand. Conservation areas in and near the village, free of man-made transformations, align with Inuit values as stewards of the land, who take only what they need.

Protecting the shores close to living areas maintains all-season access to waterways for fishing, harvesting, or travelling to camps. This access reinforces the durability of a local food circuit that sustains families and communities while allowing for the transmission of traditional practices from one generation to the next.

Maintaining an active relationship with the land means allowing for the continuity of collective memory and for the transmission and re-enactment of its underlying activities, experiences and traditions. Perceiving the land from the village can be made possible by unobstructed visual connections to key landmarks.

Calls to Action

5. Define ecological areas of biodiversity

  • Identify and protect ecosystems in and around the village, where plants, animals, and other living organisms, as well as soils, atmosphere, and water, can co-exist.

6. Protect the shores

  • Preserve coastal environments by prioritizing soft and ecological over hard engineering.

  • Renaturalize the shorelines to increase resilience to erosion.

  • Provide public access to water and ice.

7. Support traditional means to maintain food security

  • Facilitate land access through shared cabins and mobility equipment to consolidate the local food circuit and increase food security, all the way to the freezer.

  • Maintain berry-picking spots within or close to the villages.

8. Bolster places of collective memory

  • Inventory meaningful locations, such as sacred places, exceptional viewpoints, or berry-picking spots.

  • Adopt conservation measures to not only preserve these locations and their stories for future generations but also to make place for new memories where traditions meet aspirations for a prideful future.

9. Highlight landmarks and visual markers

  • Situate buildings and equipment in ways that highlight meaningful views toward natural or human elements, such as water, mountains, and beacons.

This community design project explores the potential for a future extension of Inukjuak on the opposite shore of the Innuksuak River, a place of significance in local collective memory.

It proposes a new residential area strongly linked to the land and the landscape. An innovative yet flexible system of “branches” consists of semi-detached houses arranged on a shared and continuous wood platform which conceals services (water provision/collection by gravity).

Each family has direct access to the land near the house to do activities, such as berry picking. A minimum number of streets on pads helps preserve the land (and save gravel) and encourage walking or travel with ATVs and skidoos.

A new bridge would connect both sides of the village near existing services (school, grocery store, clinic, NV). The river and its edges remain accessible as a unifying and meaningful collective space for the entire community.

By M. Avarello, M. Garneau-Charbonneau, G. Larouche and E. Renaud-Roy, École d’architecture de l’Université Laval, 2015

Where Houses Once Were: Planning and Preserving the Land along the Innuksuak River

Innovations: Thinking Outside the Box

Outside the Box Innovations

Towards a Northern Home

Towards a Northern Home


Scenarios for Climate Change

Scenarios for Climate Change

Sustainable Planning

Housing as Empowerment

Housing as Empowerment

Community Housing

Let's Do It Together!

Let's Do It Together!


Where Houses Once Were

Where Houses Once Were

Community Planning


Open Access


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