A regional initiative of the Hudson Bay Consortium, the 3rd East Hudson Bay/James Bay Regional Roundtable Meeting was scheduled for January 18-21, 2021 to bring together coastal communities and Indigenous organizations from Nunavik, Eeyou Istchee, Mushkegowuk Aski and Nunavut (Sanikiluaq), regional and federal agencies and any groups interesting in the long-term stewardship of the region. While this was to be a virtual event hosted online only, the Hudson Bay Consortium Secretariat had also been helping to organize spaces with adequate bandwidth where community members could participate safely while following public health guidelines; a shift in the impacts of the COVID pandemic following the holidays and increased lockdowns in local communities resulted in the required cancellation of this event. Instead, the Hudson Bay Consortium Secretariat worked to reschedule/reformat the components of the Roundtable agenda to the extent practicable in order to respect changes to public health guidelines while furthering the objectives of this event.

Throughout early 2021 the Hudson Bay Consortium Secretariat reached out and attempted to connect with each of the communities around Eastern Hudson Bay and James Bay. The focus of these community calls was to review the research and monitoring priorities that were identified for each community at the 2019 Roundtable in Timmins and determine whether any additions or other updates were needed. During the calls, a number of communities also expressed interest in participating in two new working groups under consideration by the Hudson Bay Consortium: Community-Based Fisheries and Environmental Response and Search and Rescue. These outreach efforts are described in more detail below, along with several presentations provided by regional organizations and other groups detailing their efforts to create new protected areas and improve stewardship within Hudson Bay and James Bay.

Regional Updates

The schedule for the Roundtable Meeting had included time for each region to share their ongoing research projects and priorities, followed by a roundtable discussion with community members. An Indigenous Stewardship and Protected Areas workshop had also been planned that would highlight several important conservation initiatives planned or underway in Eastern Hudson Bay/James Bay.  Though the Roundtable Meeting did not proceed as planned, several organizations instead agreed to share their presentations through the Hudson Bay Consortium website, for the interest of the entire Consortium network.

Conserving our Culture & Marine Life in Weeneebayko
Qikiqtait: Progress on a Community-driven protected area for the Belcher Islands Archipelago
Eeyou Marine Region Wildlife Board (EMRWB)
Arqvilliit Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area

Community Research and Monitoring Priorities

The Hudson Bay Consortium Secretariat reached out to each of the eastern Hudson Bay and James Bay communities to discuss their respective community research and monitoring priorities identified at the 2019 Roundtable in Timmins. The Secretariat developed a set of questions to act as a guide for conversations on the community calls and to facilitate gathering information on the progress, relevance and addition of new priorities, as well as gauge community interest in participating in existing and new Hudson Bay Consortium Working Groups. 

During the calls, many communities identified that their priorities remain relatively unchanged, with many of the same topics and issues shared in common. For example, thinning ice, signs of climate change, changing wildlife conditions, and issues with waste materials were raised by multiple participants. Not all communities were able to make representatives available to participate in the planned calls, however, the listings of community priorities can continue to be revisited in future on an as-needed basis. 

The creation of a new Arctic Region by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard which includes the whole of Hudson Bay and James Bay will provide new opportunities for the delivery of programs and services to local communities. Working with funding provided by the Canadian Coast Guard, the Hudson Bay Consortium Secretariat also attempted to determine the extent to which communities might be interested in additional coordination and collaboration through the Consortium specific to key program areas. Multiple communities confirmed a strong interest in participating through the two new Working Groups that are currently under consideration by the Consortium: a Community-based Fisheries Working Group and an Environmental Response and Search and Rescue Working Group. More information on these Working Groups will be shared here as they are established.

Looking Forward

While the Covid-19 pandemic and associated public health safety measures limited our ability to gather together in 2021, the Hudson Bay Consortium continues to serve as an important platform for communities to collaborate for improved marine stewardship and indigenous self-determination. We are looking forward to organizing the next Hudson Bay Consortium Summit in 2022 and developing a new strategic plan that will guide the Consortium’s work on behalf of communities moving forward. We invite you to sign up for our mailing list to receive updates on these and other important initiatives as they progress!