By Armelle Decaulne, Najat Bhiry, Fabienne Joliet, Laine Chanteloup, Thora Herrmann, Bruno Persat, Daniel Germain, Orsane Rousset
The TUKISIK (Tukisigasuaqatigit: Understanding together) is a scientific program, ongoing since 2014, concerning human-environment interactions, reinforcing links between scientists and several communities.
To strengthen the collaboration and enable for mutual learning between scientists and members of the northern communities in Nunavik, a new project of TUKISIK program has been launched, called TAKUJUQ (“he/she sees”). TAKUJUQ aims at converting scientific activity into visual arts, and thereby exploring new ways to communicate science through art. The final objective is to provide results that will stay in the communities, and to capacitate and encourage northern residents to take an active part in the scientific projects, so that outreach is accessible, not only provided in the form of scientific reports. We know reports are not inspiring, and even frustrating, while most of scientific methods and findings are often innovative and have direct implications for community development. The green houses, for instance, benefit from research on soils and energy; the turbidity research in rivers benefits the drinking water knowledge as well as the fish availability; the slope dynamic research highlights locations with potential risks for populations; the perception of Inuit territory supports land sovereignity. These projects are part of TUKISIK program.
In the TAKUJUQ project, the visual arts are not restrained to an artistic creation that remains a simple representation of the scientific facts. The TAKUJUQ project wants to go a step further: visual arts in this project are considered as a development of new techniques, innovative thoughts and an original transfer of knowledge.
To start the project, we have initiated collaboration with a young cartoonist; Orsane Rousset is 17 years old and lives in France. She is interested in knowing more about Nunavik and Nunavimmiut. She has been drawing since a very young age and aims to become a scientific illustrator: making science attractive is essential in her work. We have discussed our research, shared ideas, and discovered the Nunavik landscapes from the photographs we have taken during previous field campaigns. On this basis, Orsane initiated several drawings where research projects are carried out, for example, George River banks of Kangiqsualujjuaq, views of Wiyâshâkimî Lake, and Tasiapik Valley near Umiujaq.
These aquarelle paintings are much more relevant than ordinary photographs taken in the field to communicate with people (researchers with community members and community members with scientists), as they involve emotional interactions rather than solely a visual show.
Orsane also worked on one of the tools we use in Nunavik to observe slopes year-round, aiming at catching processes active on slopes close to villages, or within Tursujuq National Park. In fact, to better understand the impacts of climate change on snow-avalanche occurrence in the future, a good knowledge of their occurrence today is necessary. Those automatic cameras are facing slopes where snow avalanches have been recorded; the collected images provide essential information of the timing of snow avalanches, their runout distance, and the triggering weather conditions. These data are crucial to define the more active paths, and potentially the more dangerous ones.
Presenting such a tool through paintings and drawings is probably more pertinent than with a research report and leads to all kinds of enriching discussions on the utility of the research, the methods used for the illustrations, enabling and stimulating interactions between people.
In the TAKUJUQ project, students and pupils are involved, in France and in Canada, and we wish to involve interested pupils and schools from Nunavik. Many youth and artists radiate creativity in Nunavik. Any person living in Nunavik who is interested in joining our project is more than welcome. To enhance the visibility of science within the communities, we wish to share mixed ideas, mixed backgrounds, mixed representations, mixed ages, and mixed representations of landscape changes to improve exchanges and discussions. We would be pleased to have your involvement, Inuit artists of all ages, so we can work together.