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Doing things differently: An atlas of best practices and opportunities for culturally acceptable and sustainable living environments in Nunavik


Principal investigators

Geneviève Vachon, Michel Allard


Myriam Blais, André Casault, Geneviève Cloutier

Collaborators outside of ULaval

Émilie Pinard (Université Laurentienne), Maxime Héroux (MXHX), Marie-Pierre McDonald (BC2), Érick Rivard (Groupe A / Annexe U)


Nunavik’s Inuit communities face urgent housing, development and climate change challenges and, in this regard, the houses and villages they actually live in are unsustainable. They are planned according to models drawn from the South that are ill-suited for the North, their development is carried out in hurry, and time is lacking to develop locally-anchored solutions adapted to the needs, resources, and climate of Nunavik. It is widely recognized that such environments, built without Inuit participation, do not meet their aspirations. There is a pressing need to shift the current development paradigm (based on economic agenda) towards a genuine sustainable process (based on social agenda and design quality) in order to better address local conditions and Inuit culture and aspirations. In proposing to “do things differently”, the project will build on Inuit engagement, and on the experience of a multidisciplinary research team.

The project combines dimensions related to infrastructure/urbanization and social environment (culture and local knowledge). Most importantly, it considers the quality and humanity of dwelling spaces, as they also impact on residents’ safety, well-being and health. The project thus invites a variety of disciplines, as well as Inuit communities, around the crucial challenge of culturally appropriate, safe, and resilient living environments. Two main research questions are addressed by the project: 1) What are the most promising challenges and the best opportunities to develop sustainable and culturally adapted living environments? 2) What are the most useful means of action that would allow for such developments, and how could they be turned into pragmatic and convivial tools for community engagement and decision-making? The team will tackle these questions by collectively devising an Atlas of best practices and opportunities, that is a depository of models, actions and policies proposing alternative scenarios for sustainable and culturally adequate living environments.