Nunavut communities tackle climate change using Indigenous knowledge and science
June 29, 2021 — Nunavut — Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
The Government of Canada is working together with Indigenous and Northern partners to find solutions to the impacts of climate change in the North.
Today, Minister of Northern Affairs Daniel Vandal highlighted progress on three unique, Indigenous-led projects that are helping communities in Nunavut adapt to the challenges posed by climate change.
The Minister met virtually with the mayor of the Hamlet of Arviat to learn about their Community Drainage Plan project. The Hamlet has been experiencing the effects of climate change, including permafrost degradation and more severe weather events that have caused the flooding of community streets and residents' property. With funding from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, the Hamlet developed the Community Drainage Plan, which will guide its response to drainage issues to help prevent road damage from flood events and mitigate some of the effects experienced as a result of climate change.
In the Kivalliq region, the Kivalliq Wildlife Board is using science along with Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit—or Inuit Traditional Knowledge—through a terrestrial and marine community-based monitoring project that studies the connection between climate, vegetation and caribou, as well as water conditions and the marine food chain. The project addresses community concerns across the entire Kivalliq region regarding access to country food by developing local monitoring capacity to track the impacts of climate change. The monitoring activities are conducted by local youth with the guidance of hunters, women and Elders, who promote intergenerational knowledge exchange and culture-based capacity building rooted within their own culture.
Many communities in the North continue to rely on diesel or other emissions-intensive sources of energy, which not only contribute to climate change but are also costly and polluting. In the Hamlet of Baker Lake, the community is installing a 130 kilowatt solar energy system on its recreation centre, which will reduce reliance on imported diesel by an estimated 32,000 litres per year. The project will also create local employment opportunities, generate revenue for the community and provide renewable energy training to community members.
These projects are delivering important environmental, social and economic benefits that lead to healthier, more sustainable and resilient communities across Nunavut. They also build community clean energy capacity and help reduce the impacts of climate change.
"These three unique projects are bringing environmental, social and economic benefits to Nunavut. By empowering communities in their decision-making and supporting their vision for a green future, people working at the local level are finding solutions to tackle the effects of climate change. The end result will be healthier, more sustainable and resilient communities in the North."
The Honourable Daniel Vandal, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Northern Affairs
"For years, we have seen the changes that are happening in the natural world, not just in terms of increased flooding, but also the changing weather patterns and disruptions to wildlife such as polar bears, caribou and beluga whales. That's why the Arviat Council has identified climate change and climate change adaptation as a priority for the Hamlet and the community. We thank CIRNAC and the Climate Change Preparedness in the North Program for their support in this initiative."
Joe Savikataaq Jr., Mayor of Arviat
"In addition to better managing drainage, this project addresses another community priority of maintaining the quality and safety of public roads. This drainage plan, completed by Dillon Consulting in close consultation with the Hamlet of Arviat, is a solid start to addressing the infrastructure, knowledge and training requirements the Hamlet needs to effectively manage this issue in the coming years."
Steve England, Senior Administrative Officer for Arviat
Through the Climate Change Preparedness in the North program, the Hamlet of Arviat received $150,000 for its Community Drainage Plan project.
The Kivalliq Wildlife Board received $459,615 through the Indigenous Community-Based Climate Monitoring Program for its Climate, Wildlife and People: Terrestrial and Marine Monitoring Promoting Adaptation and Food Security in Kangigliniq project.
Through the Northern REACHE program, the Hamlet of Baker Lake received $172,930 for its 130 kilowatt solar photovoltaic system as part of Baker Lake's Recreation Centre project.
Canada's North is warming at three times the global rate, with significant impacts on shoreline erosion, wildfire risk and permafrost stability. Indigenous Peoples are experiencing its impact on their way of life, which is closely tied to the land and waters. Many communities in the North continue to rely on diesel or other emissions-intensive sources of energy, which not only contribute to climate change but are also costly and polluting.
As part of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada has invested $134 million in more than 670 unique projects in Northern communities for initiatives that monitor and assess climate change impacts, improve green energy infrastructure, and engage Indigenous communities on climate policy.
Building on these investments, Budget 2021 proposes $40.4 million over three years, starting in 2021–22, to support the feasibility and planning of hydroelectricity and grid interconnection projects in the North to help communities transition to clean energy and reduce their reliance on diesel and other emissions-intensive sources of energy.
For more information, media may contact:
Office of the Honourable Daniel Vandal
Minister of Northern Affairs
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
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