In Canada's western Arctic climate change is driving rapid ecological changes. Ongoing and locally-driven environmental monitoring, in which systematic observations of environmental conditions are recorded and synthesized, is required to understand and respond to climate change and other human impacts. Indigenous peoples' traditional ecological knowledge is increasingly used as the basis for regional monitoring, as there is a need for detailed, place-specific information that is consistent with local ways of understanding and interacting with the environment. In this project, participatory multimedia mapping was used with Teetł'it Gwich'in land users and youth from Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories, Canada to record information about local environmental conditions and changes. Gwich'in monitors made trips on the land to document environmental conditions and changes using geotagged photo and video observations. Subsequently, land users provided detailed information about each observation in follow-up interviews, which were added to a web-based map displaying participants' photos and videos. In this paper, we present the outcomes from the first year of research, explore the diverse types of knowledge this approach can contribute to environmental monitoring, and identify areas of convergence between traditional ecological knowledge and scientific research in the Arctic. Our work shows that this approach can make an important contribution to monitoring environmental changes associated with climate change in a way that is locally relevant and culturally appropriate.
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Vol. 34 • No. 3