“Sorastargia”: Arctic residents overwhelmed by a new form of climate sadness | US News

WThe hills surrounding the city of Iqaluit have just begun to snow, and hunters scramble off by boat. They hunt Canadian geese as usual, but now they use rifles and motorboats instead of their ancestral spears and kayaks.

Throughout Baffin Island, Inuit are harvested before autumn begins to transition to winter. Later this year, when it snows and the fjords and harbors thicken with ice, boats are replaced by snowmobiles and the area is once again full of human life.


However, motor echoes and Inuktitut sounds are least noticeable throughout this vast Arctic island during a temporary period during what is locally known as the “shoulder” season. And these shoulder seasons are becoming more and more unpredictable – something related to Neil Kigtaq.

The shoulder season has always been a problem. There is not enough ice to use the snowmobile safely, but there is too much ice in the water to board the boat. However, these seasons are deteriorating and becoming unpredictable as the climate warms. Determining the safest route can now be difficult-and it is worried about the psychological consequences, if predictable.

“Because of limited access to land and water, we see many people with strong ties to our culture due to the effects of seasonal depression,” says Kigtak. Precipitation and temperature have rapid, wild “aggressive” fluctuations that are almost impossible to plan.

“Everything can be green, then awaken the indelible four-inch snow before the ground and ice freeze,” he explains. “Or in the spring, when the wind blows, -25 will occur, but within two weeks it will suddenly go to zero and a large amount of snowmelt will flow in. Ponds and rivers will be dangerous. Standing on sea ice I can see the water. “

Around the world, the environmentally sensitive regions from Australia to the Amazon are changing due to the warming climate. Climate change may be abstract in some places, but here in the Arctic it is concrete and disturbingly familiar.

The fear and sorrow associated with the rapidly changing environment is named Sorastargia. Ashley Kunsolo, Dean of Arctic and Sub-Arctic Studies at the Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s, says he is working with Inuit to investigate psychological, physical, psychological, and emotional effects. Of the climate crisis.

“You don’t have to move to mourn the loss of your home. The environment around us can change rapidly and that mourning may already exist.” Indigenous peoples are suffering the worst. In the Arctic, for example, climate variability is exacerbating existing social problems such as food security, overcrowded housing, mental health and the fight against addiction.

Inuit, who once relied on hunting and fishing, instead have to pay for expensive, often low-quality food that is notorious in grocery stores, as climate variability disrupts traditional access to land and water. not. The Nunavut Territory, like all Inuit hometowns in Canada, is experiencing a major housing shortage, with sometimes three to four generations all living under one roof.

Hunting, fishing and harvesting are also the ways Inuit pass on culture, skills and values ​​from generation to generation. This transfer of knowledge is not only the way the Inuit survived the Arctic, but also the way they thrived in the Arctic. Now they are worried that the climate crisis may endanger their skills.

“So we have this longing,” says Kigtak. “I feel this loss when I recognize my emotional state.”

He says he misses the predictability of what things were going on and fears that traditions like the annual caribou hunt may never be the same as his youth. I will. When the shoulder season is out of control, and when the temperature drops sharply and pitches within a few days, Kigtak says the community is worried: people are aware that something is wrong, Together, it remains intangible sadness until we can name it and talk about it. Cunsolo believes that Sorastargia will help shape that grief.

A view of Iqaluit in Nunavut, where climate change makes the seasons unpredictable.Photo: Stephen Mahe / Reuters

The term Solastalgia was coined by the philosopher Glenn Albrecht in 2005 to address the shocking sentiment of Australia after a large open pit mine in New South Wales transformed the Upper Hunter Valley. People explained the landscape they once knew so well that they couldn’t recognize it.

Although still relatively new, the term is popular with people living in environmentally sensitive areas, especially those who are vulnerable. It has not yet been recognized by DSM or psychological groups, but research is increasing. “People express this deep pain,” says Cun solo. I’m still here. “

Solastalgia applies to anyone experiencing climate-related grief, but indigenous peoples are particularly vulnerable because of their deep ties to their hometowns and their practical daily knowledge of the area, says Kunsolo.

Kigtak says he sees his work as a researcher as an obligation to give back to his people and the land. In addition, he says, by working with other Inuit to maintain their lifestyle and use traditional knowledge to enhance their research, he helped him face Sorastargia on his own.

“The ability to use Inuit’s traditional skills, which have been passed down from generation to generation, is a way for us to adapt to our ever-changing environment and is now helping us to do better research and surveillance.” Says Kigtak. “Our work is an opportunity to be proud of ourselves and our culture and to contribute to something.”

When goose hunters return to Iqaluit, they share door-to-door plump prey with friends and family, making sure everyone has food for the next shoulder season. No one knows how drastic or sudden this year’s changes are, but if the Inuit are something, they are adaptable.

Kigtak said it was this adaptability in the face of the unknown that made Inuit leaders aware of what was happening in the fight against climate change and not feel paralyzed by Sorastargia. Stated. Above all, he says, it is especially necessary to recognize that you are not alone and find a community that faces a changing future.

“”[The term solastalgia] It helps to utter some of the emotions we have, “says Kigutaq. “It can help create awareness and conversation-and the ability to connect with others who are experiencing the same thing.”

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