Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts




Dr. Karen Pennesi


In June of 2008, the community of Pangnirtung, Nunavut experienced a rainstorm that caused extensive geological and structural damage. The local government characterized the event as 'severe’, however several residents pointed out the effects to the land and impacts to the community were at best exciting, and at worst, inconvenient. This thesis explores firstly, how the concept of ‘severe’ weather is constructed by social groups in Pangnirtung and secondly, how such constructions, along with Inuit worldview, experiential knowledge, governance, institutions, and access to resources, influence perceptions of vulnerability to significant weather events. The research shows the importance of cognitive processes in shaping the way groups define, use, and interpret 'severe' weather, and highlights the methods used to cope with feelings of insecurity elicited by these conditions. The results of this study enhance understandings of difference within populations and can be used to promote successful collaborations among community and research partners.



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