Aboriginal peoples and northerners are dramatically impacted by climate change at the individual and community level where life and livelihood patterns are affected; the Arctic (North of 60) populations, peoples, lands, waters, animals and cultures are at stake. Increasingly unpredictable weather impacts northerners’ ability to travel safely affecting their ability to access food (community hunts) and emergency health services like expertise in disaster management and transportation safety. Most small health centres have no emergency service capacity – a health concern for most communities. Northern communities desperately need the knowledge and tools necessary to address emergency scenarios and adaptation plans.
The intent of this project was to ensure northern voices guided the shaping of these adaptation plans while leveraging this topic as a focus of research and as a tool for promoting research skills with youth. The traditional knowledge participatory model is central to bridging age-old methods of surviving on the land with the new realities of a North in transformation. The project aimed to amplify the voices of the Elders, traditional harvesters and youth giving them the opportunity to elaborate on their plans. Arctic communities have called upon Elders to teach their youth about traditional ways of the land so that the youth can retain their culture, but also develop new research skills to learn to adapt to their environment impacted by climate change while communicating these efforts.
Using a video that was shown at a roundtable national event organized by Gordon Foundation/Munk School of Global Affairs in Yellowknife and emphasizing youth research skills, this was the first project for this First Nations region of the North. In the first phase of this project, the youth participated in a series of seminars delivered by subject area experts and elders. Clayton Pielak, Jackii Edwards, Kyra Sangris and Taylor Pagotto, interviewed local hunters, elders, and municipal and territorial government leaders to get a sense of how the land has changed over the past 30 to 40 years, and how they will have to adapt to the new landscape climate change is creating.
In the long term, the research skills developed by the Elders and youth will contribute greatly to future projects related to climate change and health impacts on Arctic (north of 60) communities. The networking and community capacity building with northern youth and Gordon Foundation fellows will be invaluable for future generations.
Research licence obtained from the Aurora Research Institute
Ethics approved by the Health Canada Ethics Review Board
This project was built on an ArcticNet-supported youth photovoice project that was conducted in Inuvik in the previous year.
Project support provided by Climate Change and Health Adaptation Program for Northern First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Communities (Health Canada) with further support from the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies at the Munk School of Global Affairs and the Walter & Duncan Gordon Foundation.
ICHR Facilitator: Cindy Gilday
The ICHR managed this project in partnership with the Dene Nation and in cooperation with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, high schools in Yellowknife and Nunavut, as well as Ecology North, Western Arctic Moving Pictures, and the Frozen Eyes photography club.
With their focus on Arctic emergency preparedness and management, the Walter & Duncan Gordon Foundation and Munk School of Global Affairs provided valuable expertise. Grand Chief and AFN Regional Chief Bill Erasmus assigned Daniel T’seleie, Director Lands, Dene Nation, to work with ICHR. Two Gordon Foundation Fellows who are both Dene and live in Yellowknife played key facilitation roles.