Hunting for treasure and trash on melting shorelines

By Aviaq Johnston, Arctic Intern, WWF-Canada
In June, the city of Iqaluit came together to clean up the Iqaluit beach and other nearby creeks with 600 people from the community, including the mayor of Iqaluit, and staff from Parks Canada, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc, Qikiqtani Inuit Association and the Government of Nunavut.
From Koojesse Inlet to the Airport River and the Kuugalaaq Creek that runs through town, these groups worked together to collect bags of litter, which staff from the Baffin Correctional Centre picked up too quickly for us to count.

The creek by WWF’s Iqaluit office before the cleanup. © Aviaq Johnston
Kuugalaaq Creek, by WWF’s Iqaluit office, before the cleanup. © Aviaq Johnston / WWF-Canada

Volunteers pulled out some large objects that included several children’s bicycles, a couch and armchair, and other types of furniture. But most of the litter we found was smaller, and with lots of nooks and crannies in our shoreline, it took a lot of work to find all the garbage between those rocks. Most of the items we collected were junk food wrappers for candy and potato chips, as well as pop cans, disposable cups and plastic bags.
Cleaning the shoreline didn’t just make our community look better, it made things better for the wildlife. We get seals, arctic char and beluga in Koojesse Inlet, and a rare polar bear. If these species eat or get tangled in the litter, it can threaten their survival. With Koojesse Inlet flowing into Frobisher Bay, a lot of other species are safer from litter, like bowhead whales, narwhal, and walrus.
It was a sunny and windy morning, and thankfully the rain held off until noon, when sponsors held a barbecue of appreciation for those who participated in the clean-up. There were hot dogs, pulled pork, and cupcakes for all who came out. There were also draws for prizes of all sorts, including three bags of swag from us, gift cards to local stores, and free plane tickets to any location that Canadian North flies to as the top prize.
The creek by WWF’s Iqaluit office after the cleanup. © Aviaq Johnston
Kuugalaaq Creek after the cleanup. © Aviaq Johnston / WWF-Canada

This year marked one of the most successful clean-ups Iqaluit has seen by the amount of people who came out and by the garbage collected. The people of Iqaluit grew antsy for the clean-up once the snow melted and revealed the litter from winter. You can be sure that in whatever weather there is in the future, we Nunavummiut always make sure to go out on the day of the clean-up and help beautify our small city.
This was the third year that WWF-Canada has partnered with members of Iqaluit’s Community Cleanup Committee, which is a dedicated group of people from the Government of Nunavut, the City of Iqaluit, Nunavut Tourism, and the Government of Canada working together to host an annual spring clean-up. WWF contributes helping hands in preparation for the event, and we have specific duties on the big day. WWF-Canada also donates some pretty cool swag and reusable mugs for participants to take home at the end of the day, hopefully minimizing the need for disposable mugs in the future.
The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup encourages Canadians to keep our rivers, wetlands, lakes and oceans clean all year round. Find a cleanup near you or organize your own.