WWF-Canada Blog:

Vicki Sahanatien: Coming home to the ice

Seeing the sea ice drifting in Frobisher Bay was the perfect homecoming for one of WWF’s newest hires, Vicki Sahanatien.

“I love the open spaces, the vastness of the land and sea. I’m especially fascinated by sea ice,” says our senior officer of government and community relations.

She brings the right credentials with her. Sahanatien spent 12 years managing Arctic conservation programs for Parks Canada, working closely with local communities. Meanwhile, her recent Ph.D research focused on polar bears and sea ice habitat in Foxe Basin, north of Hudson Bay.

From WWF’s new Iqaluit office, Sahanatien will work with government institutions, Inuit organizations and local communities to strengthen WWF’s Arctic program and promote a sustainable vision for the Last Ice Area, one that will conserve vital sea ice habitat into the next century.

Sea ice underpins Arctic marine ecosystems as trees do in a forest, Sahanatien explains. “There is a vast flora and fauna on, under, and within sea ice. It’s dynamic and alive.”

Sea ice is an essential part of everyday life for Inuit. It’s a highway for travel between communities and to outpost camps. Sea ice is also critical for many hunting and fishing activities. Inuit are key stakeholders in Arctic conservation and important sources of traditional knowledge.

In her new role, Sahanatien is looking forward to reconnecting with the Arctic community where she has spent many years. The familiar faces at the airport, happy to welcome her back, are excited too. “People are very interested in what WWF will get up to and how we will contribute to Arctic conservation,” says Sahanatien.