August 23-28, 2015
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
Ecology North, with support from the Pembina Institute and Dene Nation, hosted the third Young Leaders’ Summit on Northern Climate Change in the summer of 2015, following successful Summits in 2009 and 2011, which were held in Inuvik and Yellowknife, respectfully. Rather than staying in one city for this Summit, eight youth from NWT, Yukon, and Nunavut traveled by van from Yellowknife to Hay River, and back, stopping at various communities and interesting locations along the way to learn from elders, scientists, and other community members. The young leaders camped and cooked their own meals, which gave them the challenging opportunity to work as a team and experience living on the land that they were learning about. This encouraged collaboration and strong communication, which are skills that will be necessary when going forward and battling climate change issues.
Participants visited sites such as the Forest Fire Research Camp in Kakisa and the Northern Farm Training Institute in Hay River, which allowed them to see first-hand the types of initiatives that are currently gaining traction in the North. They learned about topics such as permafrost, fishing and water quality. Conversations with Members of the Legislative Assembly of the NWT and employees of the Government of the NWT allowed the participants to learn about how climate change affects tourism, transportation and other sectors of government, including the large costs associated with maintaining an environment that is deteriorating. Community members and Indigenous elders shared their stories about how they have experienced the land around them changing, and how it affects their lives and the lives of regional animals and plants. The list of educational topics and insightful presenters goes on.
At the end of the Summit, participants were tasked with creating projects that represented their journey and a call to action. The projects took on various formats, including a photo essay and map, interviews of the participants, an interview of an elder, and a social media blog. The participants concluded that going forward, agriculture needs to be strengthened in the North, in order to improve on food security issues. The young leaders believe that climate change is a topic that should be incorporated into elementary and secondary school education. They encourage Northerners to turn to renewable energy sources to meet their needs. Finally, the participants urge governing bodies to take on a leadership role in response to climate change, and create action through policy and the investment of resources.
For more information, read the final report.
Check out a CBC article about the 2015 Summit here and a News/North article here.
Read about the experiences of our two participants from Nunavut, Teresa Tufts and Carmen Barrieau, here.
Thank you to all the participants, presenters, guests, volunteers and sponsors who helped make the summit a great success.