Kawerak Inc was recently recognized with a Public Service Commendation from the Department of Homeland Security U.S. Coast Guard “for outstanding support to the United States Coast Guard to advance the Bering Strait Port Access Route Study.”
The Coast Guard initiated the Bering Strait Port Access Route Study in 2010 to examine the need for vessel routing and other preventative measures to enhance the safety of navigation and protect environmentally sensitive areas. After launch of the study, they realized they needed more input and information on the region. Kawerak assisted with filling that gap of knowledge, ensuring the region’s voice was heard.  The Coast Guard  reflected, “Kawerak’s strong advocacy for the Bering Strait villages served as a constant reminder that both preserving the environment and ensuring the opportunities for the people and tribes of the region to thrive in the future was of paramount importance.”
In response to receiving the award, Kawerak Inc would like to recognize the Kawerak Board of Directors, the many individuals from the region that contributed their current knowledge and traditional knowledge to the variety of workshops held on the topic of Arctic Shipping, as well as the dedicated efforts of the Kawerak Marine Advocate, Austin Ahmasuk. The Marine Advocate position came about by the determination of the Kawerak Board of Directors in 2014. It was this moment that regional leaders had the vision to protect and advocate for the region in the evolving environment. Without the contributions of knowledge from individuals across the region, the linkages between the historical knowledge and present knowledge would have been very difficult to make.
As the Bering Strait emerges as a new shipping corridor, Kawerak is proud and humbled to represent the region’s voices in order to protect, preserve and promote our way of life.
Photo: Marine Advocate Austin Ahmasuk