Yukon and Northern BC First Nations tackle climate change using Indigenous knowledge and science
June 18, 2021 — Yukon — Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
The Government of Canada is working together in partnership with Indigenous and Northern communities in finding solutions to adapt to the impacts of climate change in the North.
Today, Minister of Northern Affairs, Daniel Vandal, along with Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency), Larry Bagnell, highlighted progress on three unique, Indigenous-led projects that are helping communities in Yukon and Northern British Columbia adapt to the challenges posed by climate change.
The Minister and Parliamentary Secretary met virtually with Carcross/Tagish First Nation (C/TFN) to learn about their community-led climate change monitoring program. C/TFN has partnered with Tsay Keh Dene Nation (TKDN) and Chu Cho Environmental of Prince George, British Columbia, to build a community-led monitoring project that examines environmental data and Indigenous knowledge to create a holistic picture of how the climate is changing across C/TFN and TKDN traditional territories. The project combines tracking of current and historical climate trends with knowledge shared by Elders while also providing opportunities for youth mentorship and climate change awareness.
The Taku River Tlingit First Nation (TRTFN) is also leading a unique project to assess the impacts of climate change within their traditional territory. Climate change is causing many of the culturally significant ice patches to melt, exposing organic artifacts to oxygen and leading to rapid deterioration. The TRTFN ice patch mapping project will involve performing archaeological assessments to prevent the degradation of artifacts. Research will be guided by traditional knowledge, Elders and oral histories, when available, and heavily involve community, Elders, youth and Knowledge Keepers.
The Pelly Crossing Selkirk Development Corporation is leading the Selkirk Wind Resource Assessment project through the installation of a Sonic Detection and Ranging (SODAR) system. The initiative includes a feasibility study leading up to the construction of a renewable energy facility, including wind, solar and battery energy storage. Expanding clean energy within the region will have direct benefits for communities, including reduced reliance on diesel, job creation and revenue generation for Selkirk First Nation.
These projects are delivering important environmental, social and economic benefits that lead to healthier, more sustainable and resilient communities across Yukon and Northern British Columbia. They also build community clean energy capacity and help to avoid the impacts of climate change.
"These three unique projects are bringing environmental, social and economic benefits to Yukon and Northern British Columbia. 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
"Northern First Nations—with their traditional knowledge—immediately understand the dramatic climate changes we are experiencing. They have always been early innovators, leaders and champions of projects to reduce and adapt to these devastating changes."
The Honourable Larry Bagnell, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency) and Member of Parliament for Yukon
"We're very proud of this project, the partnership with Tsay Keh Dene Nation and Chu Cho Environmental, and the work by our Citizen, Jewel Davies. The scientific data we received is integral and so is building the capacity within our youth, who will be leading the solutions for climate change into the future."
Haa Shaa du Hen Lynda Dickson
"Many of these sites will be destroyed if cultural materials cannot be recorded and preserved quickly. The project is intended to enhance Taku River Tlingit First Nation's cultural identity and will assist in forming linkages between historic and present use of the traditional territory."
John D Ward, Spokesperson of Taku River Tlingit First Nation
"Assessing the availability of local renewable energy resources through the Selkirk Wind Resource Assessment project represents a significant opportunity to bring environmentally responsible and economically viable clean energy production to the traditional territories of Selkirk First Nation and Yukon. It seeks to develop wind as a winter renewable energy solution to displace Yukon's reliance on imported fossil fuels during our energy peaking winters and to introduce new technology to our citizens that creates jobs, improves resiliency, reduces energy costs, and reduces imported fuels and emissions."
Zachary Fulton, CEO of Selkirk Development Corporation
The Tsay Keh Dene Nation and the Carcross/Tagish First Nation received $494,192 through the Indigenous Community-Based Climate Monitoring Program for its Community-Based Climate Monitoring and Research project.
Through the Climate Change Preparedness in the North program, the Taku River Tlingit First Nation received $145,450 for its Ice Patch Mapping project.
The Selkirk First Nation received $117,628 through the Northern REACHE program for its Selkirk Wind Resource Assessment 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.
Budget 2021 also proposes to provide $25 million in 2021–22 to the Government of Yukon to support its climate change priorities, in collaboration with Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada.
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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