“A Great Investment in Our Communities”: Strengthening Nunavut’s Whole-of-Society Search and Rescue Capabilities





recherche et sauvetage; organisations communautaires; résilience communautaire; gestion des urgences; renforcement des capacités; Arctique; Nunavut; Inuit; recherche communautaire


Community-based organizations along with territorial, provincial, and federal agencies are responsible for search and rescue (SAR) in the Canadian Arctic. In delivering response capabilities at all hours of the day and for 365 days a year, the community-based organizations face a wide array of challenges. Using the data collected through the Kitikmeot Search and Rescue Project and the Kitikmeot Roundtable on SAR, coupled with academic and non-government organization literature, this article explores the major challenges facing community SAR organizations in Nunavut and builds a case for how targeted investment can best bolster community-based capabilities. We suggest novel, practical, and holistic solutions that have been proposed by or co-devised with community partners, are rooted in the unique context of Nunavut’s communities, and are reflective of a community resilience-building approach. One set of recommendations involves strengthening current programming, including the expansion of Nunavut Emergency Management’s inReach program, continued support for the enlargement of the CCGA, streamlining the process to activate Canadian Ranger patrols, and encouraging greater cooperation in the provision of training by federal and territorial agencies. We also propose new approaches, including a whole-of-society preventative SAR program centred on educational and youth programming, the adoption of a SAR equipment usage rate model, and the launch of a Community Public Safety Officer program in Nunavut. Finally, to justify greater investment at the community level, we argue that policymakers must change how they conceptualize community-based SAR capabilities in Nunavut. An effective SAR system is about more than the ability to respond to emergency events. It is a critical enabler to broader objectives and goals prioritized in the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework and other federal, territorial, and Inuit strategies.